A lawsuit has been launched against the sheriff’s office in Marin County, Calif., over an episode in which deputies barged uninvited into a 64-year-old man’s home and shot him three times with a Taser, screaming “stop resisting” while the incapacitated victim writhed in pain on the floor.
The sheriff’s version of the episode was that watching “selected” video segments of the events may mislead people.
The incident was reported by KGO-TV in San Francisco, which posted a video:
The episode developed late in June when Peter McFarland, a consultant, returned home one night from a charity fundraiser and fell on his front steps, injuring his knee. Paramedics were called to treat his injury.
Then as the paramedics departed, McFarland reported, two deputies barged in.
“All of a sudden they just showed up, came in here like there was a fire,” he said.
The deputies insisted on taking him to a hospital for an evaluation, according to the television report.
“We’re going to take you to the hospital for an evaluation,” one deputy says on the video. “You said if you had a gun you’d shoot yourself in the head.”
McFarland said that statement was no more than hyperbole, reflecting how much pain he was in from his fall and the fact he was exhausted.
He refused to go and argued with the deputies. He told them to get out of his house and got up to go to bed.
That’s when he was shot by the deputies, three times. The officers were yelling, “Stop resisting. Stop resisting,” as he screamed unintelligibly while writhing uncontrollably on the floor.
His wife was pleading for the officers to stop, telling them McFarland had a heart condition.
John Scott, McFarland’s attorney, told the television station it is “hard to imagine something this shocking could happen.”
McFarland was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, but the charges later were dismissed. The attorney told the station the officers had no search warrant or any legal reason to enter the private home.
The station interviewed Dr. Byron Lee, a cardiologist, who said “the Taser has some real risks that if you can get Tasered in the right places, you can cause sudden death and cardiac arrest.”
The sheriff’s office’s written statement to the station said, “The decision to resort to the use of force is never taken lightly and deputy sheriffs (sic) undergo an extensive amount of on-going training to ensure those decisions are both appropriate and fall within the guidelines established by law and department policy.”
The station said the officers also said watching someone being jolted is hard.
“That reaction can all too often also be influenced by using only small, selected segments of a much lengthier video that better depicts the complexity of the event in question.”
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