Tasers are meant to be a non-lethal way for police officers to force targets into compliance, but more than 500 deaths have been attributed to Tasers since 2001, largely due to cardiac arrest. At one Texas high school, the use of a Taser by Randy McMillan, a sheriff's deputy/school resource officer, on 17-year-old Noe Niño de Rivera has resulted in the student being put in a medically induced coma. The family has filed a lawsuit against McMillan, the school district, and the county, and alleges Rivera was tased after trying to break up a fight. Via YNN Austin:
The court document says the teenager began to walk backwards with his hands up when McMillan shocked him with the Taser.
Rivera fell to the ground and hit his head on the floor, causing permanent injury to his brain. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital where it was determined he had suffered a severe a brain hemorrhage and was put into a medically-induced coma.
Last week officials with the Bastrop County Sheriff's Office said Rivera was acting aggressive before the Taser was used. They say the two officers ordered the teen to back off, but he ignored their commands, according to a county spokesman, prompting McMillan to use the Taser.
Still, the lawsuit says Rivera "posed no imminent threat of death or serious injury" to McMillan and the deputy was unlawful in his use of force.
The court document also says McMillan used a Taser on another student one year ago, and says the school district and the county sheriff's office failed to discipline him correctly.
The family is seeking a jury trial. About a hundred students walked out of class last week to protest Rivera's tasing. KVUE reports the family's attorney claims to have cellphone video corroborating the family's story, but did not share it with the TV station. The KVUE story also includes one parent voicing support for McMillan. "I find it hard to believe that an officer of that standing would ever do anything that he didn't have to actually do. If you're not there you really can't judge," she said.
McMillan has been moved from the school to patrol duty for the time being.