The family of a Texas man who died in police custody has filed suit against the city of Marshall, its police chief at the time and several police officers. According to the Longview News-Journal, police Tasered 32-year-old Marcus Dewayne Slade to death in January of 2013 and ignored his sister’s pleas for officers to obtain medical assistance.
Now, Slade’s family are listed as plaintiffs in the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas. The suit is asking for wrongful death damages and survival damages against the city of Marshall, then-police Chief Stan Spence and officers John Johnston, Cortney Wells and Stacey Roach.
Last year, on Friday, Jan. 4, police responded to a disturbance call at Slade’s residence at approximately 8:30 p.m. and found him naked and extremely agitated in the street. His sister, Coren Slade-Bell, arrived shortly after the police and watched as they subdued him by shocking him repeatedly with a Taser.
“They also used the Taser while I was there. They used it on him before and after I arrived. I don’t know how many times… but it was at least three,” Slade-Bell told the News-Journal.
Slade’s limp body was loaded into a police cruiser and taken to Harrison County Jail, but he was never booked into custody. By the time he arrived at the facility, Slade was completely unresponsive. He died less than an hour later at 9:40 p.m., according to a report by Justice of the Peace Kenneth Alford.
Slade-Bell said she begged police to take her brother to a doctor.
The family’s lawsuit alleges that police used excessive force in subduing Slade. Dashboard cameras in police vehicles show that Slade never made any threatening gestures or actions against police.
“Decedent Marcus Slade at no time obtained a position of command and or domination over defendants,” reads the suit. Furthermore, when officers fired the Taser, Slade’s “arms were at his sides while on the ground.”
Officers fired the Taser seven times, delivering 50,000 volts of electricity into Slade’s body with each discharge of the weapon. The lawsuit accuses the police team of ignoring the Taser company’s warnings about what is known as Sudden In-Custody Death Syndrome, which lists “bizarre or violent behavior, disrobing and unusual strength and/or endurance as warning signs that a person might be at risk for an arrest related death.”
The damages sought by the suit were not set at a specific amount.
[Police officer with Taser image via Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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