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Federal Court Rules APD Officers Can Be Sued for Stun Gun Use

Federal Court Rules APD Officers Can Be Sued for Stun Gun Use

The question for the court: would a reasonable jury revoke two APD officers' immunity after hearing about Jesse Perea's death?

“Unconstitutional” Stun Gun Use That Killed Albuquerque Man in 2011 Ruled “Excessive Use of Force”


The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Monday that two Albuquerque police officers can be sued for using a stun gun on a suspect who suffered from mental illness and later died.

The 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals said that Albuquerque officers David Baca and Andrew Jaramillo weren’t immune from being sued because of the way they used the stun gun on Jerry Perea in March 2011. Perea was tasered 10 times in less than two minutes by Jaramillo.

The ruling allows a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Perea’s family to move forward.

The officers had been attempting to subdue Perea, who was on a bicycle. The man’s mother had called 911 asking for a welfare check on her son that day. After Perea rode off on the bicycle, the two officers followed him in their squad cars and eventually forced him into a parking lot. When Perea put up a struggle with the officers, he was hit with the stun gun.

The officers called an ambulance to the scene, and while it was en route, Perea turned gray and stopped breathing. The officers revived him with CPR, but when Perea heard the approaching ambulance’s siren, he began to struggle and started to scream. Paramedics tried to calm Perea down, but he stopped breathing again, and his pulse stopped. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The Appellate Court ruled that the tasering constituted excessive use of force and was unconstitutional. “Though some use of force would be justified to get Perea under the officers’ control, the district court determined that a reasonable jury could find that Jaramillo continued to use the taser on Perea even after the point where it could be considered necessary or even debatably reasonable,” the court’s opinion said. “Although some use of force against a resisting arrestee may be justified, continued and increased use of force against a subdued detainee is not.”

Dennis Domrzalski is news editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

(Photo credit: dailyherald.com)

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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Ashley Kurtz is a freelance theater critic.

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