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Lawsuit Filed In Taser Case

Victim's brother names gun maker, 2 local counties in claim

Sep 9, 2004 |

Monroe and Lawrence County Sheriff's departments and officers, the City of Bedford and TASER International Inc., have been added to the lawsuit in the death of James Borden.

The lawsuit, ammended Aug. 27 by Steve Borden, James' brother, charges 13 defendants in the wrongful death of James Borden.

James Borden died while being processed in the Monroe County jail Nov. 6, 2003 after he was arrested for violating the conditions of his probation.

James Borden was incoherent and disoriented when he was taken into custody against advice from EMS, which urged officers to seek medical attention for James Borden, according to police and EMS reports.

James Borden was then shocked three times by Officer David Shaw for being "uncombative and uncooperative," according to police reports.

In April, Sgt. Chuck Cohen, an Indiana State Police detective who investigated the case read testimony regarding Monroe County Sheriff's Corrections Officers Shaw and Chris Hutton.

Cohen testified that he concluded Borden was not a threat to himself or anyone else the evening of Nov. 6. Shaw shocked James Borden with an M26 taser gun that has 50,000 volts in each shock.

Steve Borden is seeking compensation "for the wrongful death of James Borden, who died as a direct result of being deprived of emergency medical attention and the defendants' use of excessive force against him," the suit alleges.

Steve Borden said the excessive force and the conflicting reports of how many shocks were administered to his brother don't add up.

"They reported that the taser gun trigger was used 11 times," Steve Borden said at a hearing in April. "I guess that is from that night. Shaw pulled the trigger 11 times, but the autopsy only shows three marks. But then it came out Thursday the trigger had been pulled 11 times."

John Potter, a Lawrence County Sheriff's deputy, who witnessed James Borden's death, told police Shaw seemed to be enjoying pulling the trigger on the taser.

"I think he was enjoying it," Potter told police during the investigation.

The suit claims "defendant Potter has said that when defendant Shaw tasered Mr. Borden that Shaw appeared to be smiling."

Hutton, who was also named in the suit, is recorded as having said "Defendant Shaw's use of force against Mr. Borden was excessive."

Steve Borden hopes the lawsuit will bring restrictions to taser guns and the excessive force they are used with. Steve Borden believes by naming TASER International Inc., in the suit, other people will not be subjected to the same fate as his brother.

"Taser international is selling lethal weapons, we think they need to be used in the right way for the right reasons," Steve Borden said. "They ought to have some set rule on tasers."

Borden cited two other recent taser-related lawsuits -- one in Indianapolis and one in South Bend.

"Tasers aren't good," said Troy Borden, James Borden's younger brother. "Tasers have cost our family a member. Tasers need to be put away until we look into it... we're still waiting to find out what happened."

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