Millvale man sues over Taser incident at police station

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An arrest for drunkenness inappropriately escalated into repeated shocks from a Taser, a Millvale man alleged in a complaint filed today in U.S. District Court.

Thomas Jason James Smith, 28, had been drinking at a friend's house in September 2012, and while walking home he stopped to rest on the steps of a church, according to the complaint by attorney Gianni Floro.

Officers questioned him, then handcuffed him behind his back and transported him to an office at the police department, according to the complaint. While there, he began hitting his head off of a desk in the office, according to the complaint.

Eventually an emergency medical technician pulled him away from the desk using the handcuffs, but he scooted forward and resumed striking the desk with his head, the complaint said. Then Officer Nichole Murphy used a Taser to shock him, repeatedly, according to the complaint.

Mr. Smith later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and public drunkenness, and charges of resisting arrest and aggravated harassment by a prisoner were withdrawn. He was sentenced to 90 days probation.

Mr. Smith in June pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia following a separate arrest, and was sentenced to another three months of probation.

Mr. Floro declined comment.

The complaint names as defendants the borough, Officer Murphy and police Chief Derek Miller.

Chief Miller, the borough manager and the borough solicitor could not be immediately reached for comment.

The lawsuit alleges that the incident represents a use of excessive force and demands more than $75,000 in damages.

Rich Lord: or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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