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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Vallejo Police Killed Man With Excessive Tasing, Lawsuit Claims

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Police brutality: always a boiling hot issue.
  • Police brutality: always a boiling hot issue.

On June 15, 2010, Michael White, a 47-year-old Vallejo man, died after police officers tased him while attempting to arrest him inside his home.

Vallejo police reported that cocaine was found in White's blood. His death, the department told the press, was apparently caused by "Excited Delirium," which the Chronicle described as "a complication of cocaine abuse marked by bizarre actions or speech, aggressive behavior, and elevated body temperature."

Almost two years later, White's daughter and her mother are suing the the city of Vallejo, as well as Vallejo Police Chief Robert Nichelini, for wrongful death, claiming that White died because of excessive force.

"The actions of [the police officers] were intentional ... reckless, malicious, deliberately indifferent to [White's] rights," stated the suit, Monday in Sacramento. "[White] did not die from Excited Delirium, but from asphyxiation and excessive or unreasonable tasing."

The police were at White's house to investigate an assault claim. White's neighbor at the Vallejo Mobile Estates, an elderly woman, had called them after White allegedly assaulted her at her front door.

When the police arrived, White refused to cooperate and locked himself inside another neighbor's bathroom. He resisted as the police tried to restrain him. As the Chron reported at the time, "Officers shocked White with Tasers, but they had no effect, police said." White collapsed at some point during the struggle. He died soon after at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Vallejo.

The complaint claims that the tasing "lasted several minutes," which it calls "unreasonable long exposure." White's actions, it states, were due to "untreated serious medical needs."

The plaintiffs argue that Nichelini "failed to properly hire, train, instruct, monitor, supervise, evaluate, investigate, and discipline" the officers involved. The officers, the suit states, should have been more cognizant of Taser International's multiple warnings "against prolonged exposure to the Taser in people suffering symptoms of ... Excited Delirium."

Police outnumbered White by "at least four to one," according to the filing, and White "never posed a serious or immediate threat to any person."

The Vallejo PD has noted that White's criminal history included at least one assault on police.

In addition to the city and the chief, 25 unnamed police officers are listed as defendants in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs are seeking damages.

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