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"Don't Tase me bro!"
It was one of the top quotes of 2007. Andrew Meyer, a student at the University of Florida, shouted it moments before being hit with a Taser and arrested for allegedly inciting a riot, resisting an officer and disturbing the peace. Meyer had been in the process of trying to ask uncomfortable questions to Senator John Kerry at a Constitution Day forum. The incident brought to light mounting questions over the use of Tasers and whether they are safe and appropriate.
A brain damage case in California sheds further light on the risks involved with the stun guns.
Taser has settled for $2.85 with a man who was shocked by a Taser four years ago. The settlement marks the first time Taser International has settled a case over their product. Prior to Butler's lawsuit, they had also never lost a Taser case.
Steven Butler, 49, was off of his psychiatric medication and intoxicated while riding a bus in Watsonville. He refused to get off the bus and a police officer stunned him with a Taser X-26. Butler went into cardiac arrest, fell to the ground and stopped breathing. He nearly died. Medical personnel needed 18 minutes to resuscitate him and his brain went without oxygen for too long and he was left with brain damage, Mercurynews.com reports. He now requires around the clock health care. Butler has no short-term memory as well as severely reduced motor skills and mobility.
"This resolution will allow the Butler family to comfortably care for Steve for the rest of his life," attorney Dana Scruggs, who represented the Butlers in the brain damage case, wrote in court papers.
Medical experts say that if a person is hit by a Taser dart near the chest, one result is a dramatic increase in the subject's heartbeat -- from a resting 72 beats a minute to as many as 220 beats a minute for a short period of time. After the settlement by Steven Butler, there is no doubt that this is an issue that will make for continuing litigation.