ACLU petitions Supreme Court on taser case

02/05/09 Mitch E. Perry
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The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner says that a Plant City man who was tasered by sheriff’s deputies last year died from "delirium with agitation due to schizoaffective disorder.”

Dr. Leszek Chrostowski said the cause of death of 46-year-old Roney Wilson last September was homicide.

Chrostowski would not go on tape discussing his findings with WMNF, but he did tell us that generally medical examiners choose between homicide and accident when listing cause of death after an incident with tasers.

Asked whether he believed the taser was a contributing factor to Wilson’s death, he said it was a reasonable possibility.

The use of by tasers by law enforcement agencies has increased over the years, and so has the number of people dying from them. Amnesty International USA says 334 people have died from taser use in the U.S. since 2001.

Meanwhile, In a completely unrelated case, the ACLU of Florida submitted a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this week, asking for a ruling that a law enforcement officer’s excessive use of force with a taser is unconstitutional.

It regards a Sheriff’s Deputy in Washington County , who administered three five-second-long 50,000 volt discharges to Jesse Buckley in 2004 with the taser in “drive-stun” mode - that means the device was pressed directly against the skin instead of being administered from a distance.

Buckley had been stopped for speeding.

The ACLU lawsuit alleges that the deputy’s actions violate the Fourth Amendment, since his only purpose was to inflict pain upon an already-handcuffed arrestee to make him stand up.

Maria Kayanan, associate legal director at ACLU of Florida called it ”horribly disturbing.”

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