Syracuse police use of Taser on teen prompts lawsuit

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – A civil liberties group on Tuesday filed suit against the city of Syracuse and two police officers, arguing the use of a Taser against a high school student was unconstitutional.

The lawsuit stems from a September 2009 incident when the boy, then 15, tried to intervene in a fight between two girls and was Tasered by a Syracuse police officer called to the scene.

The officer used his Taser stun gun on the teen, identified only as A.E., without warning and without issuing any commands, according to the complaint filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the boy’s mother.

The police action constituted excessive force, false arrest and false imprisonment, all in violation of the U.S. Constitution and state law, the suit claims.

The complaint seeks compensatory damages for A.E.’s family to cover medical expenses. A.E. was arrested and hospitalized after the incident but never charged with any crime.

“I still don’t understand why I got Tased; I was only trying to stop a fight,” A.E. said in a statement. “This is one of the scariest things I’ve ever been through. I don’t want any other kids to go through what I’ve been through.”

A spokesman for the Syracuse police department was not available for comment on the case.

A Taser incident in 2007 gained national attention when a University of Florida student repeatedly tried to question Sen. John Kerry during an appearance, and campus police used a stun gun on the student when he refused to leave. A video of the incident spread widely on the Internet and prompted debate over Taser use.

In Syracuse, police officers are routinely deployed to maintain order in and around city high schools.

The NYCLU argues that Syracuse police policies make no distinction between using Tasers on children or on adults. Tasers use electric current rather than bullets.

According to the lawsuit, police officers are not required to issue any warnings before using a Taser on a suspect. Warnings are required before using a firearm.

“Monitoring children in a learning environment is much different than patrolling the streets and the Police Department’s policies should address that distinction,” NYCLU Attorney Corey Stoughton said.

“Otherwise, more students will suffer frightening and unnecessarily violent encounters with police officers.”

(Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr., editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune)

Syracuse police use of Taser on teen prompts lawsuit