Pregnant woman sues Taser manufacturer after being stunned while in jail

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Mar. 28, 2011, 8:38am

SHERMAN - After refusing a tuberculosis skin test while she was in jail, a pregnant Dallas County woman alleges she was forcibly held down and tasered by jail personnel.

Claiming the repeated use of a Taser is no different than a gun, Demondria Jefferson filed suit against Grayson County, Grayson Sheriff's Department Securitas Security Services USA Inc. and Taser International Inc. on March 18 in the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division.

Jefferson states she voluntarily turned herself in to the Grayson County jail on outstanding traffic warrants on March 19, 2009. She was booked and placed in a holding cell.

According to the allegations, sometime in the middle of the night, medical personnel came in and asked Jefferson questions relating to her medical needs. Jefferson told the guard that she was pregnant and explained she had atopic dermatitis.

The guard stated Jefferson would have to take a TB skin test, which she refused. She told the guard that the sheriff's department had explained to her that the test was not mandatory.

However, several officers forcibly held her down and used the Taser on her, in order to perform the TB skin test, and, according to the suit, she was shocked three times.

After she was released from jail, Jefferson claims she went to the hospital and was diagnosed with contusions and as having a muscle spasm.

The defendants are accused of violating Jefferson's civil rights and of assault and battery.

Defendant Taser International is accused of advertising the Taser as a "less-lethal weapon," which lulls the officers into a false sense of security, which causes the multiple and repeated use of the product, according to the suit.

"The repeated use of the product is no different than the use of a gun; in fact it is probably more dangerous because the product is unreasonable dangerous in context of its intended use," the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for physical and mental pain and suffering, physical impairment, disfigurement, medical expenses, exemplary damages, attorney's fees, court costs and interest.

Jefferson is represented by Simeon Coker of Coker & Associates in Dallas. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell is assigned to the case.

Case No. 4:11-cv-00143

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