Inmate gets $55K settlement in Taser suit
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The state and a prison guard paid $55,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a former inmate of the State Correctional Institution Fayette in LaBelle, Fayette County, who said he was shocked with a Taser in 2007 after refusing to perform a sexual act.
A settlement agreement provided to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in response to a right-to-know request indicates that the state will pay $50,000 to Gerald Keehn, 34, of Coatesville, Chester County. Corrections Officer Kenneth Lucas will pay $5,000.
Keehn, who has been convicted repeatedly on theft and bad check charges, claimed that he was brought to a prison back room by officers who said they would give him a TV for his cell.
Keehn claimed in his deposition that Mr. Lucas, accompanied by another officer and an inmate, told Keehn to "give them all [oral sex] or get tasered." Keehn said he tried to leave the room, but another officer arrived and pushed him back in. When he refused to perform the sexual act, he was shocked three times with a Taser, he claimed.
Two officers said that Keehn asked to be shocked to resolve an argument with another inmate about the effects of Tasers.
Keehn sued alleging cruel and unusual punishment. The Department of Corrections characterized the incident as "innocent horseplay" in filings.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly ruled that the state was not allowed to argue at trial that Keehn consented to be shocked. The state settled the case in March, on the eve of trial.
Court records indicate that Mr. Lucas was fired but successfully grieved that decision and returned to work. He still works for the department.
The Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project represented Keehn and will pay him the proceeds minus the costs of their legal work. A project attorney declined comment. The department denies wrongdoing, according to the agreement.
First Published July 6, 2012 12:00 am