Family of Pasadena Man Who Died After Being Shocked With a Stun Gun Reaches $1.5 Million Lawsuit
The city of Pasadena has agreed to pay the family of Reginald Thomas Jr., an African-American man who died after police officer shocked him with a stun gun, $1.5 million.
The incident occurred on Sept. 30, 2016 when six police officers arrived to Thomas’ apartment complex and found him outside the door holding a fire extinguisher and a dagger. The police reported that Thomas looked like he was on some type of drugs. His family, who were inside the apartment at the time, said that he has a history of mental illness.
The police officers told Thomas to drop the dagger and fire extinguisher, but he didn’t comply. They tased him with a stun gun and restrained him. Thomas became unresponsive and police had to perform CPR. The father of eight died right there in the apartment.
“Expert investigators determined that Thomas’ death was not caused by the use of force by police in their efforts to restrain him, but rather by Thomas’ ingestion of lethal levels of illegal narcotics, including PCP and methamphetamine, which had caused his erratic behavior,” the city’s statement reads.
Thomas’ family filed a civil rights lawsuit in November 2016, claiming that police used excessive force when restraining Thomas and tried to cover up the incident.
City Council approved a settlement last week, just three weeks before the trial date.
“By agreeing to the settlement, the city and its officers do not admit liability or fault in the matter,” Pasadena spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said in a statement. “This settlement, when finalized and approved by the court, will resolve the lawsuit.”
“Every use of force/incident review provides an opportunity for the department to consider whether changes to policies, procedures or tactics are warranted,” wrote in an email. “While this case will be no different, it’s important to understand that the city believes its officers acted appropriately, using less than lethal force, to safeguard the children trapped in the apartment with Mr. Thomas who was under the influence of both PCP and methamphetamine.”
Caree Harper, the family’s attorney, said that her office is disappointed that the police officers won’t face trial for their actions, but the family is happy with the settlement. However, the family wants Thomas’ autopsy to be made public and for the police officers to be prosecuted.
To get help after facing a similar wrongful death situation, contact an attorney at Cohen & Cohen