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Taser death case suit settled for $1.95 million,incident video released

Police dash cam,recently released video:The family of a man who died after Shelby Township police subdued him with a Taser in 2007 settled a lawsuit against the township recently for $1.95 million.

Steven Spears died Aug. 4, 2007, after police officers shocked him with the stun-gun type device. Family members of the 49-year-old hair stylist filed a lawsuit claiming excessive force by the police caused Spears' death.

On Dec. 8, U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood approved a settlement between lawyers for Spears' family and those representing Shelby Township's insurance carriers.

Spears came into contact with officers when they responded to several 911 calls complaining of a man running in the street near 23 Mile and Dequindre roads wearing only socks and underwear.

The officers described Spears as "agitated" and called paramedics to render aid. But Spears was uncooperative with emergency personnel and ran into traffic, police said.

Officers used the Taser device several times to subdue Spears. He subsequently stopped breathing and died a short time later.

"It was just brutal," said Paul Broschay, an attorney with the law firm of Geoffrey Fieger, who represented Spears' family. "They used the Tasers to punish him. They were mad because he wasn't complying. They

can't do that."

Despite the settlement, Shelby Township police Chief Robert Leman defended his officers and their actions.

"I reviewed that (videotape) over and over and I still support my guys 100 percent," the chief said.

After conducting an autopsy, Dr. Ljubisa Dragovic, Oakland County chief medical examiner, concluded that a cocaine overdose was the primary cause of Spears' death. The use of physical restraint was a contributing factor, the doctor said, but Spears' death was accidental.

The Macomb County Prosecutor's office also investigated the death and concluded the police officers acted appropriately.

Leman did say concerns raised by Spears' lawyers that Spears died of "positional asphyxia" prompted the department to review how officers handcuff suspects behind their backs while they're lying on their stomachs.

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Added: Feb-1-2009 Occurred On: Aug-4-2007
By: jdischord
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Tags: Taser death case suit settled for $1.95 million, incident video released
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