The family of a 54-year-old man who died after a police officer shot him with a stun gun has filed a lawsuit against the Taser's manufacturer and the Chicago Police Department.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, claims police used "deadly force" against Ronald Hasse that was "unnecessary and excessive" because he was unarmed and did not pose a series threat to anyone.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of Hasse's parents, Joseph and Delores; his brother, John; and his sisters, Julie, Delores, Nancy and Becky.
Ronald Hasse, of Indiana, died on Feb. 12 after he fought with police officers at an apartment building. Police said they used the stun gun after they were unable to restrain Hasse as he tried to kick and bite officers.
In July, the Cook County medical examiner's office concluded that the primary cause of Hasse's death was electrocution from the Taser, although it added that a contributing cause was methamphetamine intoxication.
Taser International Inc. strongly disputed those conclusions, saying it did not understand why the level of drugs in Hasse's body was not viewed as the primary factor in his death.
An estimated 170,000 Tasers are being used by more than 8,000 agencies in 43 countries, according to the company, which has long argued that its stun gun is safe.
The weapon uses compressed nitrogen to fire two barbed darts that can penetrate clothing. The darts are attached to the stun gun by wires that deliver the 50,000-volt shock, temporarily paralyzing the person.
Law enforcement officials tout the Tasers as less lethal than other ways of subduing combative people in high-risk situations.
Chicago Police Superintendent Phil Cline stopped the distribution of an additional 200 Tasers after Hasse died. He did not halt the use of the weapons by police, however.
A message left at Taser's headquarters in Arizona on Saturday was not immediately returned. Monique Bond, a spokeswoman for Chicago police, said she could not comment on pending litigation, reported AP.