By JIM SUHR Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man is suing an imprisoned police officer convicted of violating his civil rights two years ago, when the officer repeatedly shot him with a stun gun during a traffic stop and gave him a heart attack that he says nearly killed him.
Bryce Masters, who was 17 at the time of the September 2014 confrontation with Independence police officer Timothy Runnels, also is suing the Kansas City suburb, its former police chief and Arizona-based Taser International Inc., which made the stun gun and which Masters accuses of marketing a “defective, unreasonably dangerous” product. The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, was filed Monday in federal court in Kansas City.
Runnels, who has apologized in court to Masters and said he never meant to harm him, was sentenced in June to four years in federal prison for violating Masters’ civil rights.
Witnesses testified that Masters went into cardiac arrest when Runnels shot him in the chest with a Taser after the teen refused to get out of his car.
Video from Runnel’s patrol car shows Runnels using the stun gun on Masters and, after the teenager went limp from the electrical charges, handcuffing him and dragging him to the curb, where he dropped Masters on the pavement face-down.
“You don’t like to play by the rules, do you?” the lawsuit quotes Runnels as telling the unresponsive Masters, whose teeth were broken when they hit the pavement.
According to the lawsuit, Masters had been in cardiac arrest for more than seven minutes by the time an ambulance arrived. No one had tried resuscitating him, and he had turned blue. He eventually was “remarkably” revived using a heart defibrillator.
According to prosecutors, Runnels “continuously” shocked Masters with his stun gun while the teen was on the ground and unthreatening, then submitted a misleading police report that omitted or falsely described the amount of force he used.
Runnels also tried to hinder the police department’s investigation of the matter, prosecutors alleged.
Taser declined comment Wednesday, telling The Associated Press by email that it doesn’t discuss pending litigation. The Independence police department did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Runnels’ previous attorney, J.R. Hobbs, told the AP that Runnels’ family is considering its options on how to respond to the lawsuit.