COLUMBUS — An Ohio man has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against a sheriff’s deputy and a state trooper, accusing them of using excessive force after he was shot in the eye with a Taser stun gun, causing permanent near blindness.
Matthew David Kelly, 24, of Harrison in southwestern Ohio, filed the lawsuit in federal court in Cincinnati on April 2.
The lawsuit names Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Standforth, the deputy that deployed the Taser on Kelly and a state trooper, and seeks more than $20 million.
Spokesmen for each agency involved in the lawsuit declined to comment.
Last May, Kelly was asleep in the passenger seat when his friend was pulled over for drunken driving on Interstate 71 between Cincinnati and Columbus, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
When Ohio State Trooper Bryan Cook woke Kelly, he was startled and began flailing his arms, according to the lawsuit.
Fayette County Deputy Clinton Sines then drew his Taser, opened the passenger door and shouted for Cook to get out of the truck and show his hands as he grabbed the back of Kelly’s sweatshirt and tried to pull him out, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit says Sines was apparently unaware that a still-confused Kelly was restrained by his seat belt.
“I’ll taze you,” Sines told Kelly as he continued to yank Kelly from the truck, according to the lawsuit.
When Sines’ grip slipped, Kelly rose. That’s when Sines fired his Taser, striking Kelly in the right eye, where a Taser prong became lodged.
Kelly fell back into the seat and covered his head with both arms, and Sines fired a second jolt into his eye, the lawsuit says.
When Sines tried to pull Kelly out of the car again, that’s when he realized Kelly’s seat belt was on. Cook then reached in and released it.
Kelly was taken to a nearby hospital, where an eye surgeon had to remove the Taser prong, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit says that the Taser permanently damaged Kelly’s retina and caused near-total vision loss in his right eye. It says he also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, other psychological injures and has caused a loss of enjoyment of his life.
The lawsuit accuses Sines of excessive force and Cook of failing to prevent the deputy from deploying his Taser.
Sheriff Stanforth is accused of failing to properly train Sines.