Punxsutawney woman sues state police over son's death
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The mother of a Punxsutawney man sued the state police Wednesday claiming that her son's death two years ago resulted from improper use of force.
The lawsuit in U.S. District Court, filed by Barbara J. Wingard, said that her son, Troy Robert Lee Hooftallen, was at his girlfriend's house when he had a bad reaction to the Mucinex DM he took for bowel problems. A family member called 911, and police and an ambulance were dispatched.
The troopers arrived first, finding Mr. Hooftallen sitting but disoriented, the complaint said. The troopers "decided to tease and taunt Mr. Hooftallen until he finally took a swing" at one of them, it said.
Police tackled him, shocked him repeatedly with a Taser, handcuffed him and kneeled on his throat and back, it said.
Mr. Hooftallen, 36, went into respiratory and cardiac arrest, it said. He was hospitalized and pronounced dead the next day.
An autopsy showed that Mr. Hooftallen died "as a result of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease while being both physically and electrically (TASER) restrained during a physical confrontation" with police, the complaint said.
Ms. Wingard sued the state, two unnamed troopers, and Taser International, which makes the device. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages. A state police spokeswoman declined comment.
First Published October 18, 2012 12:00 am