CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The parents of a Charlotte man who died after being shocked with a Taser last year have sued the police department and the company that makes the device.
The lawsuit accuses a Charlotte police officer of using excessive, deadly force when he shocked 21-year-old La-Reko Williams twice in July 2011.
Williams’ parents say he was shocked with a Taser during an altercation between him and his girlfriend at a light rail station. The lawsuit calls Tasers potentially deadly weapons which should only be used when a confrontation calls for deadly force.
Police department attorney Mark Newbold says the city is preparing a defense against the lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court.
“Although Mr. Williams’ death was indeed tragic, we believe that the actions taken by the officer were lawful and appropriate under the circumstances,” Newbold said in a statement.
Police said when the officer arrived at the station, Williams was beating and choking a woman.
The lawsuit says Williams was unarmed and presented no threat to the officer. The lawsuit says Williams was shocked twice, went into cardiac arrest and died within minutes.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police suspended the use of Tasers after Williams’ death while they investigated the safety of the weapons. The city in September agreed to spend nearly $2 million to buy new Tasers which officers are using now. The new versions include safety features to prevent officers from killing or injuring suspects.
The city paid $625,000 to the family of a 17-year-old who died after being shocked with a Taser by a police officer in 2008. The city denied wrongdoing in that case.