Appeals court to re-examine Durham Taser case

The court battle over Bryan DeBaun's injuries has been going on for five years.
December 26, 2013 3:18:29 PM PST
The State Court of Appeals will soon take a second look at a lawsuit against the Durham Police Department.

The case, which alleges an officer used excessive force when he tased an unarmed man, was initially dismissed, but it's made its way all the way to the State Supreme Court.

The court battle has been going on for five years.

Bryan DeBaun says he was severely injured when he was tased during an encounter with an officer back in 2009. He suffered severe facial injuries when he was unable to break his fall, according to his attorney. DeBaun racked up nearly $40,000 in medical bills.

Citing other Taser cases where others have either been injured or killed, Debaun is hoping the Court of Appeals will declare the Durham Police Department's policy unconstitutional.

"Mr. DeBaun feels strongly that this policy should be changed -- that other people will be seriously hurt, may be killed by this policy," said the plaintiff's attorney Alex Charns. "There's no reason, for our city fathers and mothers here, why they couldn't change this policy, why the chief of police couldn't change this policy."

DeBaun admitted he had been drinking the night an officer stopped him.

Charns said he's not calling for an outright ban on Tasers, just policies that emphasize more caution when using them.

According to court documents, the attorney for the officer who tasered DeBaun believes that's exactly what happened. He told the court that when the officer tried to prevent DeBaun from escaping police custody it, "... was objectively reasonable and that there is no basis upon which a factfinder could conclude that this authorized use of a Taser was excessive or unreasonable under the circumstances."

Because this case is still pending, the police department and the city have both declined to comment.

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