The city and the mother of a teenager boy Tasered by police at in 2010 are moving toward a trial in a lawsuit the mother has brought against the city.
The lawsuit filed by Tanya Jackson, whose then-17-year-old son was Tasered by police in the high school has 10 specific counts, or allegations against the city, including assault and battery, false arrest and imprisonment and inflicting emotional distress on her son. The lawsuit also accuses the school district of violating the teenager’s constitutional rights, including his right to due process, by not properly training the police who worked at the high school as “resource officers.”
Jackson’s son at the time was a minor and is named in the lawsuit only by his initials, Z.J. You can read a pdf of her lawsuit, as well as the city’s response to it, above. A tentative trial date has been set for June of 2013. The incident occurred in September of 2010.
According to Jackson’s lawsuit, Z.J. and his then-15 year-old brother, referred to as Y.J., were eating lunch in the cafeteria when Z.J. walked up to the food line and took a beef patty, after he had already taken a slice of pizza. Both students were on the free or reduced lunch program, the lawsuit states, and Z.J., took an additional food item because he thought it was legal to do so.
However, the legal action states, a woman who works in the cafeteria began yelling at Z.J., berated him in front of the other students and accusing Z.J. of stealing. The teenager returned the patty to the food line, the lawsuit says.
The cafeteria worker, the lawsuit states, continued to yell at Z.J., drawing the attention of two school resource officers, Kurt Scrivo and Alex Rodriguez. The two approached Z.J., the lawsuit alleges, and told him to go to the school’s security office. When the youth tried to explain that he had done nothing wrong, the officers “violently threw him backwards onto the cafeteria floor” and Tased Z.J. five times, the lawsuit says.
When his brother, Y.J., sought to intervene, both were arrested and taken to the police station. Jackson says her sons have suffered physically and emotionally from the incident and she is seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages on their behalf. The lawsuit also seeks damages from three other unnamed police officers who responded to the incident.
In their response to the lawsuit city lawyers say, in part, that as city employees the officers are immune from being sued and that the officers were legally justified in taking the actions they took against Z.J. and his younger brother. They also say that Z.J.’s “own negligence and carelessness contributed to and was a substantial factor in causing the injuries and losses referred to in the complaint” because he:
- Failed to obey the lawful commands of police officers
- Failed to act as a reasonable and prudent person
- Physically resisted arrest;
- Failed to cooperate with police officers and adult staff at the high school
- Verbally abused adult staff at the school
- Verbally abused police officers
- Physically abused police officers
After the incident the Board of Education removed the resource officers from the school, but reinstated them several months later.