Human RightsNorth America

US police taser mentally ill and laugh

hqdefaultPolice and paramedics are accused in a federal lawsuit of laughing as they repeatedly shocked a mentally ill man with a stun gun while he was handcuffed.

Thomas Jason James Smith filed the suit against Millvale, Pennsylvania, police officer Nichole Murphy and Chief Derek Miller, in addition to the borough, which is just northeast of Pittsburgh.

The FBI launched a civil rights investigation earlier this year into the Sept. 21, 2012, incident, when Smith was arrested on public drunkenness charges.

It wasn’t clear whether the FBI investigation is still ongoing, but no criminal charges have been filed in the case and agents declined to comment.

Video of the incident surfaced in January showing a shirtless Smith sitting on the floor at the police station while he bangs his head on the edge of an office cubicle or desk before an officer shoots him with the stun gun.

The video doesn’t show Smith attacking officers, although Murphy said she used the stun gun to subdue the suspect after he became violent.

Unspecified emergency responders are shown smiling and laughing at Smith’s behavior in the video.

Smith’s attorney said he didn’t know who recorded the video, but borough solicitor Jack Cambest has previously said the video was shot by a police department employee he declined to identify.

Cambest also previously said he wasn’t sure why the video was made or released.
An internal investigation by Millvale resulted in unspecified discipline against Murphy, who was also retrained on stun gun usage but not suspended.

According to Smith’s lawsuit, Murphy was previously fired and then rehired by the department for similar conduct, but no further details were listed in the nine-page suit. Raw Story

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