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Tennessee Woman Files $1.75 Million Excessive Force Lawsuit

A 61-year-old woman named Nancy Mason has filed a $1.75 million lawsuit in Hamilton County Circuit Court that accuses six law enforcement officers of excessive force against her. According to Court filings, Ms. Mason was cooperative when she was booked into the Hamilton County Jail on March 21, 2015. They patted down the frail woman, found her unarmed, and began to take her possessions. She refused to give up her earrings. According to reports, it took less than 25 seconds for an officer named Sgt. Rodney Terrell to taze her repeatedly.

The lawsuit also alleges the county has taken no disciplinary action against Terrell and the five officers with well as deputies Chauncey Morrison, Charles Lowrey III, Brendan Beadle and Joshua Ross for condoning the excessive force. Additionally, the suit also alleges they failed to step in and protect Mason from Terrell. A spokesperson for the police department claimed there was no reason to believe the police behavior violated police policy.

Holding Police Liable for Personal Injuries Sustained for Failing to Protect

In general, while police can be held liable for their actions such as excessive force, they are rarely found responsible for lack of action, such as the failure to protect citizens from harm and injury. There is no official constitutional duty to protect one average citizen from another. However, under Section 1983 of the United States Code, two exceptions exist when law enforcement can be held legally responsible for the failure to protect.

  • The Special Relationship Theory: When police take someone into custody, they do have the responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure a citizen’s safety. This means things like ensuring seat belts are on in the car, placing arrestees in a position to minimize head injuries, etc. Should an officer fail to take reasonable steps to minimize risks, and someone is injured as a result, s/he can be held liable for personal injuries or damages suffered by the individual in custody.
  • The State-Created Danger: These claims allege that someone who was not in police custody suffered injury or wrongful death as a result of police action or inaction (e.g. police engage in a shootout in public with a suspect in which the plaintiff is shot by the suspect). In instances of police-created danger, it may violate the constitution’s guarantee of due process.

Contact Us Today for Assistance

At the office of Calhoun Law, PLC, we represent those who have suffered emotional and physical traumas, personal injuries, head injuries, spinal cord injuries, or the wrongful death of a loved one due to other’s bad behavior(s). Personal injuries sustained by police in excessive force cases are no different. If you or a loved one has been injured due to what you believe is misconduct, contact our law offices today. We will go through your case with zeal to evaluate the evidence to determine whether you have a case. We will also utilize accident reconstructionists to help you gain the justice you deserve.

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