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Ben Glass
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Taser Lawsuit Dismissed on Immunity Grounds

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A $4.5 million personal injury lawsuit filed by a man a former Colonial Beach police officer Tasered in 2005 has been dismissed by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson decided on Thursday, March 6 that former Sgt. Ryan Hood was “entitled to qualified immunity” from civil liability after shooting James Keller with the stun gun. He said that it was appropriate for Hood, who resigned from the force last year, to use the Taser on Keller because he reasonably believed him to pose a threat.

Keller, who suffers from a brain disorder, was shot with the Taser after spending two hours wading in the Potomac River exhibiting erratic behavior and escaping police in boats. The jolt knocked him to the pavement, causing sever head injuries.

A federal grand jury indicted Hood and Courtlandt Turner, former Chief of Colonial Beach police, on multiple charges as a result of the incident. Both officers were acquitted by another federal judge after a trial last year.
Keller’s attorneys then filed suit against Hood, Turner, and the town of Colonial Beach. Turner, who retired early this year, and Colonial Beach were dropped as defendants in October.

Keller claimed that by using the Taser, Hood deprived him of his Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable seizure by police and also charged him with assault and battery.

Hudson said that his review of the depositions from both the civil suit and criminal proceedings convinced him that “Keller spun towards Hood and raised his fists.”