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Tasered 'Hula Hoop Lady' Receives Cash Settlement From Norfolk Government

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Civil charges that a Norfolk police officer used excessive force when he repeatedly used his Taser to shock a mentally disabled woman because she would not turn down the radio she played while exercising with a hula hoop near Wards Corner have been settled for $65,000.

The Virginian-Pilot reported on Saturday that Pamela Brown's legal team accepted the settlement offer from the Norfolk city government after initially seeking $5 million for civil rights violations and brutality. Brown suffered brain injuries after being struck by a truck while in high school during the late 1970s. Most days, she walks from her home to a median near the intersection of Granby Street and Little Creek Boulevard, cranks up her radio and breaks into a hula hoop routine.

On Oct. 11, 2008, police received a noise complaint about Brown's radio. When Brown refused to comply with a request to turn down the volume, the responding police office Tasered her for several minutes, handcuffed her and took her to jail. All charges against Brown were later dropped.

Brown's civil lawsuit and its settlement highlight several important issues related to law enforcement and the protect of people with brain injuries. Model guidelines for the use of Tasers--which come in other brands and are generally referred to as "conducted energy weapons--state that police officers should only use the disabling weapons when they feel immediately threatened and are reasonably sure that the suspect they are confronting is near to themselves in age, strength and physical capability. It would appear difficult that Brown met any of these criteria.

Further, while Tasers have been determined to be safe when used appropriately, many instances of the overuse and even fatal use of Taser are well documented. In June 2008, Taser manufacturer Taser International Inc. was ordered to pay $6.2 million to a California family whose member died after being repeatedly shocked with Tasers.

Beyond questions of the proper use of force, the case involving Norfolk's Hula Hoop Lady casts a light on how police should act when encountering individuals with brain injuries or other mental disabilities. There is no simple prescription for this, but a 200 report titled Keeping the Peace: Police Discretion and Mentally Ill Persons does conclude with a recommendation that "police officers must receive adequate training in recognizing and handling mentally ill citizens so that individuals who are more disordered than disorderly are referred to the appropriate system."

About the Editors: Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), near the NE North Carolina (NC) border. The firm handles car, truck, railroad, medical negligence cases and more. Our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono public information service. Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan’s lawyers are licensed in VA, NC, SC, WV, DC and KY.

EJL
1 Comments:
Do you have any attorney's here in Northern California that will handle my Tazer issue. I have sent/talk with civil attorney's, but was turned down, because I was not taken to Jail by the Alameda Sheriff dept, because they used a Tazer on me while I was having siezures, which they lied on thier report after I got of copy of it only saying they "Tazer" me 2 times, and then getting a copy from "Peramedic's" which they said I had "Tazer" tags on my chest, and they said that I was Tazered 4 times to control me from charging. Most of civil, and other Attorney's that said they handles these cases, are not willing to help sense I was not taken to Jail when handcuff by the sheriff dept. Sheriff report is not correct.
Posted by Kenneth Gordon Sr on November 2, 2009 at 05:07 PM

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