A Washington County man who was asleep in the back of a cab claims he was shocked with a Taser because he "shushed" a state trooper when the man tried to wake him.
Phillip S. Chappel, 29, of Washington, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the state police, as well as Trooper Jeffrey Osrodowski, claiming the officer had no reason to take aggressive action against him.
On Aug. 8, 2008, Mr. Chappel and a friend attended a pre-season Steelers football game, and then they "continued to enjoy a post game celebration."
Early the next morning, the men hired a cab to take them back to Washington, but both men fell asleep during the trip.
According to the lawsuit, the cab driver, presumably, was unable to wake them.
So, he drove them to the state police barracks on Murtland Avenue in Washington, arriving just after 2:20 a.m.
"When the trooper attempted to wake Mr. Chappel, he 'shushed' the trooper and fell back asleep," the lawsuit said.
The trooper again tried to wake him, and Mr. Chappel "shushed" him again.
At that point, the lawsuit said, Trooper Osrodowski fired his Taser at the sleeping man.
The complaint said that the Taser sent 50,000 volts of electricity through Mr. Chappel's body and argues that officers are trained to use the weapon only when subjects are resisting arrest or being aggressive.
"At no time did Chappel pose any threat to the officer or to himself or others," the lawsuit said.
Mr. Chappel was cited for disorderly conduct. On the citation, Trooper Osrodowski wrote: "defendant did create offensive condition by an act which serves no legitimate purpose to wit: the defendant did in a Yellow Cab shush a trooper while the trooper was givin [sic] him verbal commands to exit the vehicle."
The charge was later dismissed by a magisterial district judge.
Mr. Chappel claims he sustained a variety of injuries in the incident, including burns, numbness, scarring and post-traumatic stress.
He also notes in his lawsuit that he's had an implanted pacemaker since he was 13 months old.
The suit includes civil rights claims for violating Mr. Chappel's First Amendment rights to freedom of expression, as well as retaliation and battery.
Paula Reed Ward: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2620.