10/18/2016 5:24:00 PM,
Daniel W. Staples
GREENBELT, Md. (CN) - The family of a Maryland man who died after being Tasered by police nine times over at least 37 seconds has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Montgomery County and the two officers involved.
The use of Tasers by police in Maryland has come under stiff scrutiny as officers have been accused of not following the manufacturer's recommendations for the weapons, which fires electrified darts into suspects. Police have been accused of deploying the weapons for more than 15 seconds and have used the devices on nonviolent or mentally unstable victims.
According to the lawsuit filed in the District of Maryland on Oct. 13., when police arrived at the cul-de-sac in the Washington suburb of Gaithersburg, Maryland, they found Anthony Howard Sr., 51, dancing barefoot on an SUV as a crowd of bystanders, who recorded the 2013 incident, can be heard laughing and joking.
Montgomery County Police Officers Alexander Patapis and Dana Russell first attempted to subdue Howard with pepper spray. But after one of the officers mistakenly deployed the spray on himself the crowd began to taunt officers and urged them to use their Tasers on Howard.
In a 17-minute video of the incident obtained by the Baltimore Sun during an investigation into police use of Tasers, Howard is seen backing up to the door of a townhome, noncompliant but was not threatening the two officers, when they deployed their weapons at the same time — also against the Taser's recommendation.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Howard's family initially sought civil action against Montgomery County, but dropped their efforts when police refused to turn over video evidence. Several bystanders who recorded the incident said that when police returned their phones the videos had been erased.
Howard's family seeks $400 million in damages.
A representative of the Montgomery County Police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Howard's family is represented by Jason Downs with Murphy, Falcon & Murphy in Baltimore, who did not immediately respond to request for comment.