In a case dealing with the right to file a lawsuit based on a serious injury caused by a police officer, an Illinois federal district court judge held on Wednesday that police officers who used a Taser gun on a woman are not immune from liability even though the woman was resisting arrest. Therefore, the judge allowed the woman’s Chicago personal injury lawsuit brought under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 1983, to proceed against the two officers involved. April L. Haynes v. Village of Lansing, et al., No. 07 C 3125 (N.D. Ill. Aug 26, 2009).
The judge did not rule on the merits of the plaintiff’s claim that the officers used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment when they arrested her. However, the court noted that several pieces of evidence suggest that the woman may have been injured by police excessive force, including the use of a Taser gun on the unarmed plaintiff three times during the incident.
Still, the court held that the officers were not immune in this action. Citing Clash v. Beatty, 77 F.3d 1045 (7th Cir. 1996), the judge stated that police officers are not immune for an alleged violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable seizures when there is evidence that their actions were unreasonable. Specifically, the judge held “there is a clear dispute whether any reasonable officer would believe it was necessary to deliver not one but three 50,000-volt jolts of electricity to an unarmed individual lying prone on the floor, especially considering the nonviolent nature of the crime charged (attempted obstruction of justice.”
To speak with a Chicago personal injury lawyer regarding a potential action, call Passen & Powell at (312) 527-4500 for a free consultation.