A father with mental problems has received an out-of-court settlement from police after he was Tasered FOUR times in a “gratuitous, unprovoked, and violent” attack.
Cornelius Thomas was returning to his home from a shopping trip with his eight-year-old daughter when he was repeatedly zapped with the weapon which fires 50,000 volts.
The 39-year-old suffered injuries to his wrist and bruises on his back when he fell to the ground during the confrontation with four officers.
He was rushed to hospital following the incident where he was treated for a month after doctors discovered a Taser barb embedded in his chest.
West Midlands Police denied liability for his injuries, arguing use of the Taser was “lawful, justified and proportionate in the circumstances”.
But after Mr Thomas‘ solicitor issued court proceedings the force settled the claim out-of-court and agreed to pay Mr Thomas “substantial” undisclosed damages and legal costs.
Speaking about the ordeal for the first time today (Mon), Mr Thomas, who lives in Kings Heath, Birmingham, said he still suffers panic attacks.
He added: “I had arrived back with my daughter and she was inside the house by the time I was Tasered in my doorway and obviously knew what was happening.
“I have never felt a pain like it in my life and I hope I don’t again.
“It was out of order, you can’t treat people in that heavy-handed manner.
“It was over the top and to do it four times when I had my hands up and was no threat is ridiculous.
“It would be fair to say that I’m not too keen on the police anymore.
“Whenever I see them I suffer from panic attacks, including if I see a police car flying past.
“I have lost my confident in the police and I hope that nothing ever happens to my daughter because I would struggle to trust them.
“I have never received anything like a written apology for what happened, but I am glad it is now over.”
Mr Thomas, whose daughter was eight at the time, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1999 and has received help for his condition since 2001.
He was Tasered by one of four police officers that were brought in to support mental health staff, who had decided to section him under the Mental Health Act.
But Mr Thomas was unaware of the decision to section him so arrived back home at 8pm on June 10, 2011 to see two police cars and an ambulance parked outside.
He added: “I had been to the shops with my daughter to get bread and milk when I came back and saw the police cars.
“They asked me if my name was Cornelius and then two came over and started hassling me for my keys without saying anything.
“I was pushing my hands in my pocket then I fell on the floor but they didn’t try to pick me up or arrest me.
“Then I got up and starting walking towards my house and they suddenly shouted ‘police with Taser’.
“I turned around with my hands up but they just shocked me anyway. I got up and they shocked me again from about two or three metres.
“I got up again and was walking to my door and they Tasered me while I was at the door and I remember shaking on the door handle.
“Then I fell to the ground and the last time I was tasered I was unconscious for a minute or two.
“When I woke up there was a policeman sitting on me and I couldn’t breathe so I had to twist my body because I thought I was going to die.”
Mr Thomas‘ legal team said police admitted in court documents that he was forcibly pulled from his car and Tasered in his chest, twice in his upper torso and once as he turned his back.
His solicitor Iain Gould added: “On each occasion my client was Tasered, he says he felt a surge of electricity, intense pain and fear.
“Each Taser resulted in Cornelius falling to the ground suffering multiple minor soft tissue injuries, but he managed to get up and move a little closer to his front door.
“On the fourth and final occasion that he was Tasered, he says both his hands were in full view and that he was clearly no threat.
“At this point Cornelius had his back to the police, his left hand on the door handle, and his right hand on the keys in the lock.
“Despite this, he was electrocuted again.
“In my client’s opinion, West Midlands Police’s use of force in this incident was gratuitous, unprovoked, and violent.
“To repeatedly electrocute an already vulnerable person using a Taser weapon is wholly disproportionate and unnecessary.”
West Midlands Police confirmed the force had made the undisclosed payout but said no disciplinary action was taken against any of the officers.
A spokesperson added: “An out of court settlement has been agreed with Mr Thomas for an undisclosed amount, without any admission of liability by West Midlands Police.
“This claim is now resolved and, following an investigation by the force’s Professional Standards Department, no disciplinary action was taken against any officers.”