July 21, 2009
A shelter for adolescents in southern Illinois is suing the local sheriff’s office for what it describes as an unprovoked attack by two police officers on four children, three of whom were tasered, and one of whom was threatened with sodomy by a sheriff’s deputy
The Southern Thirty Adolescent Center near Mount Vernon, IL, filed the lawsuit on behalf of three children in its custody, who the lawsuit says were tasered by Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies who had been called to help subdue two misbehaving children, aged 11 and 12. Neither of those children were among those who were tasered during what one news service described as a police “rampage.”
The incident took place on July 4, 2008. The federal lawsuit was filed in an East St. Louis court on Friday. In the suit the children are named only by their initials: B.B., R.E., and Z.P.
According to the legal filing, quoted in the Mount Vernon Register, one deputy “physically pushed R.E. towards his bunk and shocked him repeatedly with a taser. … R.E. was tased multiple times to multiple locations on his person, including, but not limited to, his neck. Deputy Bowers shouted to B.B. to lie down in his bunk and physically forced him to lie down.
“Without physical provocation and/or physical gestures from B.B., Deputy Bowers held B.B. down on his bed and shocked him repeatedly with a taser. While he was tasing B.B., Deputy David Bowers threatened to sodomize B.B. As a result of this repeated and excessive tasing, B.B. urinated and defecated himself. Deputy David Bowers was aware that B.B. urinated himself after the tasing.”
The filing goes on to say that a 17-year-old female visitor to the center, who had pleaded with police to stop the attack, was grabbed by an officer, choked, and locked in a closet.
From the Mount Vernon Register, quoting the legal filing:
“As Z.P. was being repeatedly tased, [17-year-old] Megan Geisler pleaded with Deputy David Bowers and Deputy Lonnie Lawler to stop. Deputy David Bowers ordered Deputy Lonnie Lawler to handcuff Megan Geisler. … Deputy David Bowers grabbed Megan Geisler by her arms, lifted her off her feet, and carried her through the male dormitory to a nearby closet. On the way to the closet, Deputy David Bowers lifted Megan Geisler off the ground, pressed her against a wall and choked her. While choking her, Deputy David Bowers said, ‘do you want to live or die bitch’ to Megan Geisler. Megan Geisler was then thrown into a closet. At this time she began vomiting and heaving.”
According to AP, no criminal charges have been filed in the case, and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office says the deputies “acted appropriately.”
The Illinois Department of Family and Child Services told southern Illinois’ WSIL-TV that “shocking children with Tasers can result in serious physical and mental injury. Use of these weapons is especially troubling in cases where the children involved have committed no crime and have not even been charged with wrong doing.”