A complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court alleges that officers from four police departments contributed to the death of 61-year-old Robert Neill of Mount Joy by stunning him multiple times with Tasers when responding to Neill’s early-morning 911 call to report that someone had stolen his bike. Taser International is also named in the civil lawsuit for negligently manufacturing and distributing the electronic control devices and failing to properly instruct police officers on their use.
Neill’s family is bringing this civil action against the Pennsylvania State Police Department, Mount Joy Police Department, the Susquehanna Regional Police Department, and the Northwest Lancaster County Police Department, asserting that they were aware of Neill’s mental and emotional illnesses, responded with an excessive and unnecessary amount of force, and failed to provide Neill with adequate medical care before his untimely death.
“I’m sitting here and speaking about it now. I’m pretty much in the same state I was when the state police showed up at my door,” says Neill's son, Robert.
The family's attorney says Neill was a Vietnam Veteran who suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The attorney says Neill was unarmed and running away from the police when he was repeatedly tased, drive-stunned, hog-tied with rope and pepper sprayed.
“The police’s excessive force contributed to the death of an innocent victim. Neill’s death is a tragedy that could and should have been avoided. We aim to help prevent such unnecessary incidents from happening to others,” said the family’s attorney Stewart J. Eisenberg of Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, PC.
The polcie departments named in the lawsuit declined to comment on it.
Taser Inernational released the following statement:
“While TASER does not comment on pending litigation involving our equipment, we continue to stand by the independent peer reviewed medical studies that have shown that the TASER® electronic control devices are generally safe and effective.
“TASER technology has proven to reduce excessive use of force claims and these highly publicized cases represent a small percentage of arrests where it has saved numerous lives, dramatically reduced injuries to both officers and suspects while reducing excessive use of force litigation.”