A former Mount Joy Borough police officer fired his Taser 15 times while trying to gain control of a borough resident who died a short time later, according to an updated lawsuit filed by the resident's children.
Former Officer Tyson Woods' bursts lasted from two seconds to 28 seconds - 119 seconds total - during a 10-minute span, according to the suit.
But exactly how many times 61-year-old Robert Neill was shocked by the Taser - either by electrodes attached to pins and fired into his body or by the Taser being applied directly to his body - will be "a major point of contention" in the case, Daniel Sherry, the family's attorney, said Monday.
Sherry said how police handled Neill was appalling.
"They knew that this man had mental issues. Rather than getting in a crisis team ... you have something going on that is just beyond the pale," he said.
An attorney for the Mount Joy officers named in the suit did not immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment Monday.
Neill's family initially sued police, the borough and Taser International in June, but Sherry said they filed an amended suit Sept. 7 once they obtained Pennsylvania State Police investigative documents that shed more detail on the events.
The suit claims police used excessive force and failed to use or enforce appropriate-use-of-force policies.
Woods and another borough officer, Kyle Hosking, responded to Neill's apartment complex around 4 a.m. on Nov. 6, 2010, for a harassment report.
According to Woods' recounting in the state police documents provided by Sherry, this is how the events leading to Neill's death unfolded:
The police officers first met Neill outside his apartment.
He told the officers that college kids were harassing him and had stolen his bike. Woods said Neill seemed mentally slow and that when he asked him his address, Neill offered a blank stare, then turned and ran 10 or 15 yards into his apartment.
As the officers walked over, Woods said, Neill opened the door and asked what was going on.
They told him they were there to help, but Neill "was a completely different person." He had his fists clenched and "his chest was puffy."
Woods told investigators Neill "was in like a state of rage, just complete rage."
Woods said Neill went down the hallway of his apartment, then returned and came at him.
"He was barreling out at me. So that's when I took a couple of steps back in retreat and I fired my Taser at him," Woods said.
But Woods said the Taser, which he thought had hit Neill, didn't seem to have an effect. He shot Neill again, but he didn't succumb.
Woods said Neill began "kind of going" at Hosking, so he told Hosking to shoot his Taser, but that also seemed to have no effect.
Woods shot Neill again as Neill began running and refusing to stop. This time, Neill fell, hitting his face and bloodying his nose.
Other officers and emergency medical technicians were called as Woods and Hosking struggled to control Neill. They eventually handcuffed him using two handcuffs linked together, but Woods and other officers involved said Neill was still fighting them.
During the struggle, police tried to tie Neill's legs to restrain him because he was kicking at police. Woods applied the Taser directly to Neill's backside during this time and fired.
Neill also was shot in the face with pepper spray, to no avail, by a state trooper.
Eventually, Neill stopped struggling. An officer asked if Neill was "still with us? Or something like that 'cause he wasn't, um, you know, acting crazy like he was."
Neill was on his stomach at the time. An EMT rolled him over and determined he was still alive. Neill was loaded onto the ambulance but lost his pulse on the way to the hospital and was declared dead at Lancaster General Hospital.
Results of Neill's autopsy show he died of cardiac dysrhythmia, or abnormal heartbeat.
Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni has said his office could not determine what caused the cardiac dysrhythmia. There was no alcohol or illicit drugs in Neill's system, according to a toxicology screening.
The suit said Neill had a seizure disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder - and that Neill's health issues were known to the department.
However, Woods told an investigator he didn't know Neill, nor did he think Hosking did.
When asked by state police investigators about the number and duration of the Taser firings, Woods said maybe some were accidental trigger pulls.
But he said he didn't recall holding the Taser against Neill and discharging it - an action known as "drive stunning" - for 10, 17 or 28 seconds.
The state attorney general's office investigated the case, but found "no evidence of any criminal conduct," an office spokesman said in November.
Mount Joy Mayor Mary Ginder notified Woods on April 2 that he was being fired for violating the police department's use-of-force policy.
Woods has filed a lawsuit seeking his job back. The suit, filed in May, contends the borough violated his due process rights.
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