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TODAY'S QUESTION: Are you concerned about the financial liability Tasers might pose to the city?

Monday, December 14, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

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?


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Comments

marvin saunders December 14, 2009 | 6:49 a.m.

No iam not concern about the way the city waste our money.Nobody can stop it!Look at all the wasteful spending they have been doing.All the streets could be fixed but NO lets build more parks.More could be done to stop gangs but NO lets put in bike lanes,The list is endless.I just hope they taser me I could use the money & it will more than $300,000.I will be speeding down broadway tomorrow at 6:30am so come & taser me iam ready.

(Report Comment)
Lifelong Columbian December 14, 2009 | 7:48 a.m.

Well, I said this would cost the city money the day it happened. It was a stupid move by the CPD to use a taser and now we will all pay for this settlement. I would imagine this will open up a whole hornets nest of lawsuits every single time someone is tasered under questionable circumstances. The tasers have already cost more than they are worth. We managed to get by without them for decades so I see little need for them now. They are only going to be used on people who are unarmed 99.99% of the time. A taser is no match for a loaded gun.

(Report Comment)
terry bura December 14, 2009 | 9:43 a.m.

Not saying the CPD was incorrect in using the tazer but have you ever seen a case where an internal investigation was done and the police was at fault? Second thoughts must have changed there mind in this case. If it wasen't right after the fact who judged it right in the on set?

(Report Comment)
Jay Niemeyer December 14, 2009 | 10:19 a.m.

The question no one has asked is how much would the city have paid if MCDuffy would have jumped off the bridge? The city would have been sued by McDuffy’s family for their loss, and the person or people who would have been killed or injured in the wreck that would have occurred when McDuffy landed on I 70. I am glad they tased McDuffy and got him off I 70 before someone innocent got hurt or killed.

(Report Comment)

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