Taser Time

Sheriffs in Marin County, CA, may think twice before pulling out their Taser stun guns now. Peter McFarland, a 66-year-old resident of West Marin, just won a $1.9 million settlement against Marin County over a June 2009 incident in which McFarland was shot repeatedly by a stun gun. McFarland sued for use of excessive force. Marin County chose to settle rather than go to trial.

The incident in question happened in 2009 when McFarland was 64 years old. He and his wife had come home after attending a fundraiser, and he fell outside his house. He had been drinking. His wife called for help, and paramedics arrived. Paramedics then called the sheriff’s office when McFarland made a comment about shooting himself in the head. Sheriff deputies arrived, and when McFarland refused to go to the hospital, the deputies shot him with a stun gun. The lawsuit alleged that McFarland was shot four times, including once after he was already in handcuffs.

The Marin County sheriff’s department put stun guns into service in late 2008. Deputies received about 8 hours of training. Since then the department has revised its policy regarding Taser usage.