Fort Worth Offers $2 Million to Settle Taser Death Lawsuit

Fort Worth is offering $2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of a man who died after a police officer shocked him with a Taser.

Michael Patrick Jacobs, 24, died as a result of two shocks in April 2009 during a confrontation with police. The medical examiner ruled Jacobs' death was a homicide.

Fort Worth is offering Jacobs' family $2 million to settle a lawsuit they filed against the city. It is the largest lawsuit settlement offer the city has ever made in a case involving death of injury, a city attorney told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

But the city is not admitting liability in Jacobs' death. Fort Worth spokesman Jason Lamers said the city is trying to prevent lengthy and costly trials.

"This settlement is absolutely not a message of liability from the city," he said. "It's more of, 'We believe that this is the right thing to do.'"

The Jacobs family said they are pleased with the settlement offer but want more than just money. The Rev. Kyev Tatum Sr., who is speaking for the family until the settlement is finalized, said the family is asking for additional training for police officers who use Tasers, something the city said it is doing.

Family members said they called police on April 18, 2009, to report a disturbance because Jacobs had not been taking his medication for bipolar disorder. Fort Worth police said officers used a Taser after he became combative.

Jacobs was stunned for 49 seconds and then for 5 seconds, with a 1-second interval between shocks, the medical examiner said.

His mother, Charlotte Jacobs, said last year that her son was "laying flat on his stomach, shaking" after he was shocked.

"And he was foaming out of his mouth, and snot was running out of his nose," she said. "I told [them] when I came out here, 'You're killing him.'"

A Tarrant County grand jury declined to indict the officer who used the Taser, Cpl. Stephanie Phillips.

But Tatum said he is still pursuing federal criminal charges against Phillips.

"There was something in her head, from my vantage point, that was evil and sadistic to cause her to want to pull out a Taser on a 24-year-old, 135-pound young man," he said.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the settlement Tuesday. Officials say it looks like council members will approve it.

Police in neighboring Arlington are hoping to outfit the department with an additional 300 Tasers. Arlington police said the devices will help officers better handle incidents without resorting to deadly force.

But Tatum says Tasers are deadly and is threatening to organize a boycott of the 2010 Super Bowl, which will be held at Cowboys Stadium.

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