While short jolts of ‘manageable’ electricity are supposed to render an incorrigible person unharmful, how many zaps are actually necessary? The case of Escambia County Sheriff’s Office vs. Bridges will more than likely answer that question. Filed in Federal court last week, this is one of many national cases where excessive force in detaining an arrestee caused an individual to senselessly die.
Here’s the case recap delivered by your favorite wrongful death lawyer in Los Angeles.
How the victim was detained
Cody Healy, an armed forces veteran, was apparently running through an occupied elementary school while waving his arms around madly. He was also noticed to be exposing his genitals. At that point, law enforcement officials were called to the school.
The 28-year old began physically battering officers as they attempted to arrest him. The two officers used their tasers in an attempt to subdue Healy, which didn’t seem to work. After breaking free, he ran to an area with a fence. Officers eventually tracked him, tasering him two more times while placing Healy in leg irons and cuffs.
After the second round of teasers, he went into cardiac arrest. He was taken to the nearby Baptist Hospital emergency room, where he was placed on life support before succumbing to his injuries. The medical examiner ruled his death was by homicide in her final report.
The significance of his death to this case
The honorably discharged Air Force veteran, discharged for being mentally unable to perform duties, was essentially murdered according to the ME report. While the officers may not have known about his mental illnesses, the manner in which they used their tasers was reckless. Just about any Los Angeles wrongful death attorney would gobble that up in court.
The widower’s attorney clearly denounced his death as anything but murder. Instead of waiting for backup, the officers took it upon themselves to use excessive force to subdue an individual that showed no signs of absconding.
According to the ECSO, officers complied with their training and followed procedures according to law. However, since accidental death wasn’t put on the ME report, that statement is questionable.
What this case means for wrongful death law
This case could end up being textbook wrongful death simply because excessive force wasn’t necessary to calm the arrestee down. Using the first round of taser shots should’ve been sufficient to get the man into leg irons, then two officers could’ve easily handcuffed him.
I mean, the man was diagnosed with adjustment disorder and had partial retardation. Under normal circumstances, he wouldn’t have run through a grove of trees to some random school and acted foolishly.
Bear in mind this case is against the sheriff’s department, so it would be tough for any Los Angeles wrongful death attorney to win outright in court. However, given the circumstances and obvious use of unwarranted force, a settlement is more likely to happen outside of court.
Remember, folks, there must be an element of negligence in any wrongful death suit to withstand reasonable doubt brought by any defense attorney.