Federal Lawsuits Filed After Two Men Die From Being Tased

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The deaths of two Kansas men after being tased has led to federal lawsuits being filed by their family members, who claim their civil rights were violated by law enforcement officers.

Thirty-eight-year-old Michael Hartshorn was serving time for his fourth DUI in the Montgomery County Jail. Three days into his sentence, Hartshorn began suffering symptoms of withdrawal, hallucinating and yelling.

Surveillance video shows deputies taking him out of his cell and restraining him in a chair. Later that night, deputies opened his cell and tasered him twice, even though he was still restrained. He died five hours later.

"In this case, it was just done clearly for purposes of causing pain even though he was restrained," said Randy Rathbun, attorney for Hartshorn's family.

Rathbun is also representing a Liberal family in a similar case.

Juan Soto was high on cocaine and standing naked in an alley in August of 2006. When police arrived, Soto walked away. Police used their tasers on him four times and restrained him. He died a few minutes later.

Rathbun says authorities violated the men's civil rights by not using the tasers properly.

"Those people are the perfect example of why you don't use a taser, because these people were having mental problems and the tasers led to their death," Rathbun said. "These should be used in certain circumstance where it's the last resort."

Both are asking for compensation for their pain and suffering as a result of their family members' deaths.

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