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Published: Friday, 2/2/2007

Wrongful-death lawsuit is filed

The mother of a Toledo man who died after he was shocked multiple times with a Taser filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court against Toledo and Lucas County law enforcement officers.

Betty Turner claims in the suit that Toledo police officers and Lucas County sheriff's employees violated the civil rights of her son, Jeffrey Turner, 41, who died Jan. 31, 2005, after he was shocked nine times with stun guns.

Turner's death is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice for possible civil rights violations.

The FBI agreed to review the incident in April, 2005, after requests were made from David Taylor III, Toledo NAACP president and civil rights activist.

The lawsuit's defendants - nine Toledo police officers, two sheriff's deputies, and a jail corrections officer - also were named in a January, 2006, lawsuit Ms. Turner filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Judge Gary Cook, who is handling the Common Pleas complaint, yesterday continued a stay in the case until May 4 because of the federal investigation.

Mr. Turner was shocked five times outside the Toledo Museum of Art after Toledo police investigating a loitering complaint said he refused to identify himself or comply with officers' instructions. Several hours later, he was shocked four more times after deputies said he became violent in the county jail.

He was found unresponsive a short time later in his cell and died in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.

An autopsy by the Lucas County coroner's office showed Turner had pre-existing heart disease, but the Taser shocks contributed to his death, which was ruled a homicide.

The lawsuit in federal court, which was assigned to Judge David Katz, claims the defendants' "deliberate, willful, and wanton misconduct'' in shocking Turner was unlawful, excessive, and unreasonable use of force.

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