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TASERed man sues Pa. police

By Torsten Ove
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

NORTH BRADDOCK, Pa. — A man who says two North Braddock police officers shocked him with a Taser as he slept on his couch has filed suit against the officers and the borough.

Officers Gerard Kraly and Lukas Laeuricia were responding to a silent burglar alarm at the Stokes Avenue apartment of Shawn Hicks in the early morning of July 28 when the incident occurred.

In his suit, filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, Mr. Hicks said he was asleep on his couch after a night out with friends. At 2:44 a.m., he was "awakened by being tasered by Kraly and Laeuricia."

He said he tried to explain that he lived there and showed his identification, but they shocked him two more times, according to the suit.

The officers' actions, the suit says, "were outrageous, egregious, willful, malicious and were committed so carelessly as to indicate wanton disregard" for Mr. Hicks' civil rights.

But the FBI didn't think so, nor did the Allegheny County district attorney's office. Both looked into the case and decided against taking action against the police.

John Bacharach, solicitor for the borough, said he hadn't seen the suit and couldn't comment.

North Braddock police would not comment.

Police have said the officers responding to the alarm didn't know if Mr. Hicks lived there or not when they arrived and that he refused to respond to their commands.

When they showed up, they found the door open and Mr. Hicks lying on the couch, but he wasn't asleep and he wouldn't show them his hands, they said.

Police said they didn't know whether Mr. Hicks had a weapon. When he refused to show his hands, they said, they used the Taser on him. They said he began swearing at them and continued to be uncooperative, so they shocked him again.

In the suit, Mr. Hicks said the officers shocked him a total of three times, even after they had secured his identification from his wallet and determined that he lived at the address.

He also said that his daughter, niece and mother all came home just after the incident and that his mother also told police that he lived at the address.

Even so, he said, the officers took him to their holding cell, where he sat for two or three hours complaining of his injuries before they let him go.

He said he then went to the hospital for treatment of injuires, he claims, he received from the Taser, which he said included bruises, muscle spasms and neck strain.

He said he also suffered "severe emotional distress."

Mr. Hicks, who has convictions for assault, drug possession and drunken driving in several cases in four communities dating from 1996 through 2005, refused to comment yesterday.

His lawyer, Andrew Leger, did not return a message.

Copyright 2008 Pittsburgh-Post Gazette

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