What should have been a run-of-the-mill Career Day presentation at a New Mexico elementary school in May took a bizarre turn when a cop shot a 10-year-old student with a 50,000-volt taser gun, the Smoking Gun reported. The officer was suspended for three days, and now a civil lawsuit has been filed.
Officer Christoper Webb, who serves in the state’s Motor Transportation Police Division, was teaching students from the Tularosa Elementary School about gun safety when his taser “accidentally discharged” and hit the child, Webb said. The student’s lawyer says the cop was behaving carelessly when he shot the boy with two electrified barbs from the taser, the Smoking Gun noted.
According to documents from the Sante Fe District Court lawsuit, the victim—who has been identified as “R.D.”—said he did not want to clean the cop’s patrol car after Webb, 44, made a joke about finding students to do so. Webb allegedly responded by pointing his Taser X26 at the boy, saying “Let me show you what happens to people who do not listen to the police,” and firing.
The Department of Public Safety report states that Webb took his taser from his holster to show the students, and when the stun gun was “out of the holster, he pulled the trigger and the probes from this less-lethal weapon struck a 10 year old male subject in his chest.”
In Webb’s memo to his superiors, which has been obtained by the Smoking Gun, the officer said he had removed the taser cartridge from the gun before presenting it to an earlier group of students, but had forgotten that he put the cartridge back in before he displayed it to the next group of children, which included R.D. The lawsuit states the boy blacked out after he was hit with the five-second jolt and was left with scars on his chest. Webb explained to a teacher what happened and the boy was taken to the hospital, according to the Smoking Gun. In his memo, Webb claims that the student’s mother told him she was not mad about what happened.
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The lawsuit, which was filed on October 26, says the wounded student could have faced “death or serious bodily injury.” It states that he now suffers “Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome symptoms,” including waking up “in the middle of the night holding his chest afraid he is never going to wake up again.” The lawsuit does not, however, specify exactly what kind of punitive or compensatory damages R.D. and his family seek.
The Career Day mishap has also triggered a civil complaint against Webb and the Department of Public Safety for battery, negligence and failure to provide medical care, the Smoking Gun noted.
As the Huffington Post points out, this lawsuit comes on the heels of an incident in San Diego in which a police officer accidentally tasered a 3-year-old girl.
A February report from Amnesty International counted 500 taser-related deaths in the United States since 2001. Last year, some groups called for the reevaluation of stun gun policies after they were tied to three deaths in one weekend.