By Michelle Durham
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A federal lawsuit was filed today in Philadelphia against the Pennsylvania State Police, three Lancaster-area police departments, and the Taser Corporation on behalf of the estate of a man whose death, the estate’s attorneys say, was caused in part by the excessive use of the disabling device.
The man’s family is seeking unspecified money for damages, as well as answers.
Attorney Stewart Eisenberg represents the family of Robert Neill of Mt. Joy, Pa.
Eisenberg says the 61-year-old Vietnam veteran, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), called police in November 2010 to report a stolen bicycle.
Eisenberg says his client was known to police, was on a number of medications, and was unarmed when he charged at officers.
“They used Tasers, primarily, to subdue him, and other devices,” Eisenberg says, noting that Neill was also pepper-sprayed by police, then hog-tied and carried by stretcher to an ambulance. Neill was dead when he arrived at a hospital.
Eisenberg says that according to the medical examiner’s report, three Taser probes were found in Neill’s body.
Steve Tuttle, vice president of communications for Taser International, issued a written response:
“While Taser does not comment on pending litigation involving our equipment, we continue to stand by the independent peer reviewed medical studies that have shown that the Taser electronic control devices are generally safe and effective.”
All of the police organizations were contacted for comment; all said they could not comment on the litigation.
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