USA – Alexandria, Louisiana: Father sues over death of son shot with stun gun (2011-02-07)

Published on February 7 2012 by admin

[[SUMMARY / COMMENTS: In an all-too-familiar scenario, the death of 22-year-old Robert Ricks is blamed on his high level of cocaine – 1,090 ng/ml was above the 1,000 ng/ml generally recognized to be toxic – rather than the taser which brought him down. Understandably, the family is lodging a lawsuit contesting the official explanation of his death: that he died of “excited delirium” from having a lethal amount of cocaine in his system. Mr Ricks, whom the lawsuit labeled a “serious mentally ill person” suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia had been released from a treatment center earlier in the week, was handcuffed by Alexandria Police officers and led to a police car. After sitting down in the car, the lawsuit states, Ricks refused to put his feet in the car, and he eventually was shot with taser. He later was shot in the back with the stun gun while sheriff’s deputies attempted to book him into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.]]

The TownTalk.com

The father of Robert Ricks, the 22-year-old Alexandria man who died in police custody on Feb. 6, 2011, after being subdued with a stun gun, has sued local officials and Taser International, the company which produces the weapon used on Ricks.

A coroner’s report and a Louisiana State Police investigation exonerated officers involved in the case, saying that Robert Ricks died of “excited delirium” from having a lethal amount of cocaine in his system.

The lawsuit, filed Friday, lists a host of defendants: the city of Alexandria and its mayor, Jacques M. Roy; the Alexandria Police Department and four of its employees, Danny Joffrion, Deidra Allen, Marcus Kirk and William Carmouche; the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Charles F. “Chuck” Wagner Jr. and three of his employees, Jason Walker, James Brunet and Mark Wood; Acadian Ambulance and its insurance company, XYZ; the Alexandria Fire Department and one of its employees, Silton Metoyer; and Taser International.

Alexandria Police Chief Loren M. Lampert, who was not at the helm of the Police Department when Ricks died, initially deferred comments to City Attorney Chuck Johnson, but said he would wait for the legal system to take care of the matter.

“We have complete confidence in the justice system and will allow the matter to be litigated in the courtroom,” Lampert said.

Johnson said he would “only echo what was stated by the chief.”

Linda Kinder, assistant to Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Darrell Guillory, said the Sheriff’s Office had no comment on the lawsuit.

“Due to the ongoing litigations at this time, chief said we cannot make any comments at this time,” Kinder said.

Attempts to reach other officials named in the lawsuit, as well as Ricks family attorney Carol Lexing Powell of Monroe, were unsuccessful on Monday.

According to the 16-page lawsuit, Lawrence Ricks, Robert Ricks’ father, is seeking damages for wrongful death, deprivation of rights and negligence that he alleges led to his son’s death.

The suit alleges that officers used an “unreasonable” amount of force in dealing with Robert Ricks, who was arrested after his grandmother, Maxine Jones, called 911 for assistance because she noted Ricks was “sweating and shaking very badly,” according to the complaint.

Acadian Ambulance and the Alexandria Fire Department responded to the call, but Ricks refused medical treatment and became combative. That’s when officers from the Alexandria Police Department were called to assist.

Ricks, whom the lawsuit labeled a “serious mentally ill person” who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and had been released from a treatment center earlier in the week, was handcuffed by Alexandria Police officers and led to a police car.

After sitting down in the car, the lawsuit states, Ricks refused to put his feet in the car, and he eventually was shot with the stun gun, which uses an electric charge to temporarily incapacitate someone. He later was shot in the back with the stun gun while sheriff’s deputies attempted to book him into the Rapides Parish Detention Center.

After the second shooting, the lawsuit says, Ricks’ body went limp, and he stopped breathing.

“Throughout this incident, decedent Robert E. Ricks presented a medical problem in need of a doctor, not a law enforcement problem in need of a jail cell,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants acted in deliberate indifference to his medical needs.”

Other allegations are that the police officials had “demonstrable propensities for excessive force” and were not adequately trained in the dangers of “repeated Taser shocks,” that employees weren’t adequately disciplined, that constitutional rights violations were condoned and encouraged, and that officers showed a “pattern of constitutional violations.”

The suit also claims that Taser is at fault because it “defectively manufactured and marketing the unreasonably dangerous ‘Advanced Taser’ with which the individual defendants repeatedly shocked the decedent proximately causing his death.”

Steve Tuttle, vice president for communications for Taser International, said the autopsy report placed the blame for Ricks’ death not on a Taser device but rather the cocaine that Ricks allegedly ingested prior to his death.

“While it is our policy not to comment on pending litigation, the autopsy classified Ricks’ death as an ‘accident’ and that the cause of death was ‘excited delirium due to schizophrenia and cocaine toxicity following a struggle’ and not the Taser device,” Tuttle said in an emailed statement.

“It is worth noting that the autopsy report also confirms that the level of cocaine in Ricks’ system at the time of his death (1,090 ng/ml) was above the 1,000 ng/ml generally recognized to be toxic.”

http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20120207/NEWS01/202070330/Suit-filed-over-death-Alexandria-man-Tasered-while-custody?odyssey=nav|head

 

 

One Response to “USA – Alexandria, Louisiana: Father sues over death of son shot with stun gun (2011-02-07)”

  1. […] 2/20/2011: Another young brother, Robert Ricks, Tasered To Death; this time by Alexandria, LA police. The murder happened on Saturday, February 5 and right now, […]

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