Court Revokes $5.5 Million In Damages Awarded Towards Mother Of Teen Killed By Officer's Taser

| by Will Hagle

On March 20th, 2008, 17-year-old Darryl Wayne Turner was fired from a Food Lion supermarket store in Charlotte, N.C. for insubordination. He refused to leave the store. In response to his actions, the store called local law enforcement officials.

Officer Jerry Dawson of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department arrived to the scene, and attempted to escort Turner from the store. When Turner refused to comply, Dawson fired his Taser at the teenagers chest. He held the shock for 37 seconds until Turner collapsed, and then continued holding it for 5 more seconds after Turner was on the ground. Turner ultimately suffered a fatal heart attack as a result of Dawson’s actions. 

Turner’s mother filed a lawsuit against the officer, but the court recently ruled that the woman “cannot take home $5.5 million in damages,” according to Court House News. 

This is a stark contrast to the initial award agreed to be given to Turner’s mother, which equalled $10 million in damages, according to Prison Legal News. This result occurred after Turner sued the manufacturer of the weapon, Taser International Inc., for product liability, citing academic studies that showed how the weapon could lead to cardiac arrest. That result was eventually lowered to $5.5 million, but was stripped recently by another court. 

The ruling expresses sympathy towards Turner’s family but acknowledges that the monetary award was simply too high. “We have no doubt that Turner had significant value to his parents, and that they are entitled to a substantial award for the loss of his services, care, and companionship. However, we cannot agree that the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to Fontenot, met the required ‘reasonable level of certainty’ to establish that such services, care and companionship had a monetary value approaching $6.15 million. In reaching a contrary conclusion, the district court abused its discretion. Accordingly, we hold that TI is entitled to a new trial on damages,” the majority opinion reads.