COLUMBIA - Concerned about the cost of possible legal proceedings, the city recently agreed to pay $300,000 to a man who was injured in July 2008 after being shocked with a Taser by Columbia police.
Phillip Lee McDuffy, 46, was threatening suicide on an Interstate 70 overpass when officers fired several Taser shots at him. After being struck by the fourth shot, McDuffy fell about 15 feet to the ground below. He broke his jaw and both arms and suffered an orbital fracture in the fall.
The Police Department conducted an investigation and found the use of a Taser against McDuffy was appropriate. No officers were found at fault in the incident, and no disciplinary action was taken.
Although the investigation cleared the officers involved, McDuffy and his attorney said the department responded inappropriately. Last December, they submitted a settlement offer of $500,000 to the city.
The final settlement figure was agreed upon after discussions between lawyers for McDuffy and the city, the city manager, risk manager and others. The city was concerned that if it did not agree to the settlement, McDuffy could pursue a lawsuit that would cost more in the long run.
The city's insurance fund will cover the settlement.
Opponents of the Police Department's use of Tasers have warned of such situations. Members of the Coalition to Control Tasers and the TASER-Free Columbia Campaign, for example, have argued that the device could become a financial liability to the city. They also have pointed to the case of Stanley Harlan, who died in August 2008 after being shocked with a Taser by Moberly police. His family will receive $2.4 million from Moberly.
Are you concerned about the financial liability Tasers might pose to the city?