A Georgia man’s family has learned that he died while in police custody after being hit with a Taser some 13 times by two police officers who were involved in a foot chase with the man. At the time he was in handcuffs and had claimed that he was too tired to walk.
According to news station WSB-TV, Gregory Towns’ family is gearing up for a lawsuit against the East Point Police Department in Georgia after their lawyer learned that ” … department policies were violated during this encounter.”
Chris Stewart, the family’s attorney, told the news station that Towns was repeatedly hit with a stun gun during an encounter with police in April. Police records seen by Stewart reportedly show that Towns was “drive-stunned” in an attempt to make him get up and walk.
“This is a direct violation of their own rules,” Stewart told WSB-TV. “You cannot use a Taser to escort or prod a subject.”
Stewart told the news station that police records and eyewitness accounts led him to believe that two officers “violated the city’s standard operating procedures for Tasers.” The lawyer says the family plans to file a lawsuit later this week.
“He wasn’t cursing. He wasn’t being abusive. He was saying, ‘I’m tired,’ ” Stewart told WSB-TV.
Stewart said Taser logs show that Sgt. Marcus Eberhart triggered his Taser 10 times and Officer Howard Weems shot his Taser three times. Stewart notes that the Taser may not have made contact each time the trigger was pulled, but he still feels that the number of trigger pulls was excessive for a man who posed no threat to the officers. “This situation is indefensible,” he said.
Dale Preiser, one of Weems’ lawyers at the Police Benevolent Association, told the news station that his client’s actions did not cause Towns’ death.
“Use of drive stun to gain compliance is permitted under federal and Georgia law,” Weems’ lawyers said in a statement seen by the news station. A city representative told the news station that the city had no comment on pending or potential litigation.