A mentally ill man died after being tasered at the Athens-Limestone Hospital according to News Courier. The man, Randy Nelson, was tasered by an Athens police officer in February 2016. He was just 49-years-old according to documents. Nelson’s mother, Dorothy Nelson, filed charges against two police officers and the city of Athens over Randy’s death.
Nelson claims that Randy’s civil rights were violated and is seeking punitive and compensatory damages, litigation costs and attorney fees.
“Wrongful death involves more than just an accidental death. Someone must have shown negligence, misconduct or criminal behavior in such a way as to cause the death of another. For example, the family member might have been involved in a car accident caused by the other driver’s reckless, aggressive or intoxicated driving,” states Steinberg Goodman & Kalish.
Randy’s mother brought her son to the hospital, which was not named in the lawsuit, for proper medical care. She claims that the police officers, whom were improperly trained, killed him. Lawyers for the family state “this type of incident involving the mentally ill happens far too often.”
Nelson claims that officer Greg Lott used excessive force leading to a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Officer Dusty Meadows was also named in the lawsuit. Nelson claims that Meadows failed to stop Lott from tasering her son.
Nelson’s mother claims her son was brought to the hospital because he suffers from mental illnesses. She claims that her son has bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and was waving his arms slowly because he was afraid of medical personnel.
She claims that the hospital staff called the police to help restrain Randy while they injected him with medication. The events, according to Nelson’s mother, quickly escalated when police started to use physical force against her son.
Randy was tasered in the back according to the lawsuit.
Randy is shown in a video, released by the Athens Police, being aggressive, throwing items, swinging at anyone that walked near him and even kicking a doctor that was trying to exit the room. The officers can be heard telling Nelson that they will have to taser Randy to get him under control with his mother replying “okay.”
He is seen being tasered in the video and falling to the floor. There is a continued struggle before he is eventually handcuffed.
Police Chief Floyd Johnson states that the taser was correctly deployed and that the officers followed procedure. Randy fell into cardiac and respiratory arrest. He was resuscitated before succumbing to his injuries five days later.
Attorneys for the Nelson family claim that the hospital may be added to the lawsuit depending on what they learn during the discovery phase of the trial. Nelson claims that she has not reached a settlement with the hospital and has not signed any documentation relieving the hospital of their liability.
“The City of Athens clearly ignored TASER’s warnings that the TASER, even when properly used, can cause death, and failed to adopt a proper policy and provide proper training to the individual defendant’s governing its use,” states Martin Weinberg, a lawyer for Nelson.