April 17--An Orange County jury on Monday awarded about $80,000 to a woman who claimed excessive force was used when she was stunned with a Taser by Orlando police officers in 2003.
Heather Hull, a 23-year-old UCF student at the time, was slammed to the ground and stunned by officers outside the Florida Citrus Bowl. Video later surfaced which Hull said contradicted officers' claims that she had behaved threateningly.
A jury agreed, ruling against the City of Orlando and awarding Hull damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress and medical expenses, according to her attorney, Howard Marks.
"The jury found that the city's policy on the use of Tasers at the time was unconstitutional," Marks said. "We're very happy with the verdict."
The jury did not, however, rule against the officers involved. Marks said he saw that decision as a sign that jurors felt the officers were following agency policy -- and it was the policy that was wrong.
Several months after the incident, Orlando police restricted Taser use to suspects who were actively resisting orders by officers, such as preventing an arrest, fleeing or taking a fighting stance.
Before that, merely refusing to comply with an officer's commands was enough to justify the use of the Taser on those who "passively" resisted.
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Copyright 2012 - The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.