Sheriff’s Deputy Defends Use Of Taser In Wrongful Death Lawsuit

FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — A Frederick County sheriff’s deputy takes the stand, defending his use of a Taser. Four years ago, he fired the weapon, killing a 20-year-old. Now the victim’s family seeks millions in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Adam May has the revealing testimony for court.

To be exact, the family is suing for $145 million. They’re claiming the officer misused the Taser.

The family of 20-year-old Jarrel Gray is suing a Frederick County sheriff’s deputy who fired a Taser, killing the young man.

“I want the police to think about it when they’re using that thing,” said Gray’s grandmother, Anna Thomas.

It started when residents in the Frederick neighborhood called 911, reporting a fight in the street of November 2007. In federal court, the responding deputy, Rudy Torres, told jurors Gray put his hands in his pants and he was yelling and out of control. But some eyewitnesses at the time dispute that.

“‘My hands are on the ground, officer. My hands are on the ground’ and they tasered him,” said eyewitness Sara Ismach.

Torres fired the weapon twice. In court, attorneys for the plaintiff asked, “You tased him for a second time when he was laying on the ground?” and the deputy replied, “That’s correct.” But Torres went on to testify he had no choice, claiming Gray refused to show his hands.

A recent report by the state’s attorney general found 10 Marylanders have died after being struck by Tasers. Twenty-four law enforcement agencies here use the weapon, firing them almost 1,400 times as of 2009.

Attorneys for the Gray family imply Torres was reckless. They’re also going after the department’s internal investigation, which found no wrongdoing.

Gray’s parents also claim their son had hearing problems so he may not have heard the commands.

The trial is expected to last about a week.


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