The family of an unarmed, mentally ill man who died after being shocked seven times with a stun gun, kicked and repeatedly hit with a baton — mostly after he had fallen and stopped moving — has settled its lawsuit against two police officers and a suburban city, their attorney told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The Indiana family of Doug Boucher agreed to settle its lawsuit against Mason, just northeast of Cincinnati, and the two officers for $375,000, which will support Boucher’s minor daughter, Cincinnati civil-rights attorney Jennifer Branch said.
“While both sides feel strongly about their positions, and obviously disagree, both sides recognize the tragic loss of life that occurred and sympathize with the impact this loss has had on the parents and minor child of Douglas Boucher,” according to a statement by attorneys on both sides.
Gary Becker, who represents the city and the officers, did not respond to requests to comment.
Boucher died Dec. 13, 2009, after a confrontation with the officers outside a Mason convenience store. The 39-year-old Boucher had been accused of making lewd comments to the store’s 19-year-old female clerk.
Shortly after Boucher’s death, Mason police said only that he had died after being shocked by a Taser stun gun. Documents obtained by the AP revealed that he’d been shocked seven times and that he was lying immobile and face-down for five of them.
In court depositions, Officer Sean McCormick said that when he approached Boucher from behind and put a hand on his shoulder, Boucher clenched his fists and began screaming.
Officer Daniel Fry said he got one handcuff on Boucher’s wrist before Boucher spun around and punched him twice in the head. A wrestling match ensued, and McCormick shocked Boucher in the chest with his stun gun, causing him to fall to his knees.
The officers said Boucher then spotted the clerk outside, got up and ran toward her.
That’s when Fry shocked Boucher in the back, causing him to collapse face-first into the pavement, landing with his hands underneath him and out of the officers’ view, according to the depositions.
McCormick said he then kicked and hit an immobile Boucher with his baton and ordered Fry to stun him twice more. Although Fry said he only remembered stunning Boucher three times, information downloaded from the device showed he used it six times in a 75-second span.
After the officers handcuffed Boucher and turned him over, they found that his face was covered in blood and he wasn’t breathing. Boucher was dead minutes later.
Butler County deputy coroner James Swinehart found that Boucher didn’t have alcohol or drugs in his system and died from the fall, although he said he couldn’t rule out the stun-gun use as a factor.
Dr. Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist representing Boucher’s family, said he believes the stuns caused Boucher’s death.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation cleared both officers of wrongdoing.
Branch, the Boucher family attorney, has said the officers should have allowed Boucher to leave the convenience store because making lewd comments isn’t a criminal offense, and their escalating use of force was inappropriate.
Becker, the city’s attorney, previously said the officers had no way of knowing Boucher was incapacitated.
“These officers had been viciously attacked by this guy, and to their knowledge, that was going to happen again if they approached him without making sure he was under control,” he said.
Boucher’s parents, who filed the lawsuit, live in Marion, Ind., where Boucher lived until he was about 30. His family said he was bipolar and not in treatment.