Panhandler Wins $100M In Stun Gun Lawsuit
An Atlanta jury awarded a panhandler $100 million after they determined an officer used an unreasonable amount of force to subdue the 69-year-old man. The city has since filed a motion for a directed verdict arguing that the award figure is too high. The judge has yet to issue a ruling which would amend the settlement figure to something significantly lower.
The judge may not elect to do that, however. In this case, the man, who can only move his eyelids, requires 24-hour care at exorbitant rates.
The 69-year-old man was asking drivers for change when he was approached by a police officer. The man ran from the officer and the officer responded by tasing him. The man suffered a paralysis injury in the incident.
The jury found that the officer used excessive force when restraining an elderly man who was not a threat to anyone. The arresting officer was found to have violated the department’s policy on the use of force.
The officer has not faced charges yet or disciplinary action related to the altercation. He remains on the force in good standing. However, the press surrounding the incident will likely cast a shadow around the officer. He has also been individually named in the lawsuit, and $40 million of the judgment has been attached to his estate.
There were a number of problems with this interaction. Firstly, the officer was within his rights to ask the plaintiff to stop panhandling. However, panhandling remains a Constitutionally-protected act of free speech, and efforts to make it illegal generally have to surmount that Constitutional hurdle. So, trespassing, or other charges have to be filed against panhandlers.
In this case, unless the property owner had asked the panhandler to leave, the panhandler was not committing a crime. Even if the panhandler was committing a crime, the officer had resolved the situation by chasing them off. At that point, there was no need to pursue the man, and even if there was, the use of the taser was likely more than required to regain control of the situation.
So, the officer used the most heavy-handed tactic available to address an old man asking for change. The jury saw that there was no good reason for that, and decided to hold the city accountable for their negligent hiring.
What happens now?
The judge can revise the verdict to make it more reasonable. $100 million is an abstraction to the majority of people. They won’t earn that much money in their lifetime. It’s an abstraction to government officials too, who never spend their own money. The plaintiff can now buy a 10% interest in an NFL football team, a 25,000-square-foot mansion in California, or an Airbus. However, the money will be placed in a trust to manage the cost of his ongoing care which has already accrued $14 million in debt.
Talk to a Miami Personal Injury Attorney Today
Payer Law represents the rights of Miami plaintiffs filing personal injury lawsuits against individuals and companies. Call our Miami personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin discussing your lawsuit immediately.