Suit Settled Despite Tasering that Contributed to Man's Death

The plaintiff’s decedent, Billy Cook, a 39 year-old-male, from Charleston, SC was supposedly delusional, confused and intoxicated with cocaine when deputies responded to a late-night call. Mr. Cook who was unarmed, was allegedly tasered 38 times until he was handcuffed, shackled and left lying on his stomach. There had been a dispute as to how many times Cook had actually been tasered.

Mr. Cook had stopped breathing after being tasered, but no one tried to resuscitate him, but an EMS was called who took him to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. Cook has a history of heart disease and when he was arrested, the amount of cocaine in his system was well over six times the lethal limit.

The plaintiff said that the defendants violated Cook’s civil rights in using excessive force to effect his arrest. The plaintiff said that because Cook was tasered 38 times it prevented Cook from being mentally and physically able comply with the officers’ requests. Also the plaintiff argued that the defendants should have tried to resuscitate but failed to do so. The plaintiff also argued that the defendants having training on how to use tasers three weeks before the incident and should have reasonably foreseen that tasering someone multiple times would do harm.

The defendant argued that the cocaine intoxication and severe coronary artery disease was the cause of Mr. Cooks death. The defendants said they tasered Cook only five or six times which did not cause his death. The reason the defendants say they did not try to do CPR on Mr. Cook was because they didn’t have the CPR mask or CPR gear to protect themselves.

The case was settled for $325,000 on March 8, 2010.

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