Jury awards $3M in man's death by Taser

March 2, 2009 3:09:06 PM PST
A Harris County jury on Monday awarded $3 million to the mother of a mentally ill man who died after he was shocked 18 times with a Taser gun and hogtied during an arrest four years ago. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Shirley Nagel sued four deputies with the Precinct One Constable's Office after they arrested her schizophrenic son, Joel Don Casey, in 2005 on a mental health warrant and he died.

Casey's death was later ruled a homicide. An autopsy concluded he died of psychotic delirium with physical restraint associated with heart disease.

The jury found three of the four deputies used unreasonable and excessive force during the arrest, the Houston Chronicle reported on its online edition Monday.

Nagel, 74, wept after the jury's verdict was read.

"The jurors were listening," she said. "We need a policy change. They really need to outlaw hogtying."

Nagel indicated she and others are forming an advocacy group to outlaw such restraint practices and to push for humane treatment of the mentally ill.

Assistant Harris County Attorney Frank Sanders said the deputies were not trying to hurt Casey, 52, or violate his constitutional rights. The county planned to appeal the verdict.

Casey was arrested in his mother's home. After he complained one of the handcuffs hurt him, deputies used a Taser on him multiple times, said Nagel's attorney, Kent Spence.

Casey was thrown down on the street and hogtied before one deputy dropped a knee on his neck and popped his head back, Spence said.

Sanders, who alleged that Casey was resisting the deputies, said the deputies have a dangerous job, doing 5,000 to 6,000 mental commitments a year.

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