Monday, March 10, 2008

Utah Taser Victim Jared Massey Accepts $40,000 Settlement, Drops Civil Rights Suit Against UHP Trooper Jon Gardner

Want to make a quick $40,000? Go to Utah, drive 20 mph over the speed limit, provoke a trooper into Tasering you, film and post the incident on YouTube, and file a lawsuit.

That's the real message sent on March 10th, 2008 when the Utah Attorney General's Office has agreed to pay $40,000 to a motorist who was Tasered, settling a pending excessive force lawsuit. Full stories posted by the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret Morning News.

Click HERE to review all previous posts on this issue.

In exchange for the settlement, which includes attorney fees, Jared Massey agreed to dismiss the lawsuit and forego all claims against Trooper Jon Gardner and all potential claims against Utah Highway Patrol, Utah Department of Public Safety and the state of Utah arising out of the incident, according to the Attorney General's Office.

"We think this is a legally defensible case because Trooper Gardner acted reasonably to avert a volatile and potentially dangerous confrontation on the side of a busy highway. We recognize, however, that this is a close case," Assistant Attorney General Scott Cheney, who represented Gardner, said in a news release.

Ahh, but not to worry. The state did not walk away completely empty-handed. Back in Janaury 2008, Massey paid a fine of $107. Whoopee! Massey wins, Massey's lawyer wins, Utah taxpayers lose.

Update: On March 12th, the Deseret Morning News also reported that the UHP internal investigation has now been concluded and Trooper Jon Gardner received a letter of counsel for failing to communicate adequately with motorist Jared Massey during the traffic stop, and for failure to follow UHP protocol when he removed the Taser probes from Massey's back. In the latter case, Gardner did not use latex gloves to remove the probes or clean the wounds with alcohol wipes, as required by department policy.

A letter of counsel is not the same as a letter of reprimand. It will remain in Gardner's file while he works in the UHP's Section 5 — the section that covers Duchesne, Uintah and Daggett counties — but will not follow him if he transfers to another section.

This should be the end of the whole story, finally

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