Mom Files Lawsuit Over Son's Taser Death

By Megan Carpenter |

Published 06/18 2014 06:41PM

Updated 06/18 2014 07:25PM

BURLINGTON, Vt.- Rhonda Taylor says she hopes for some closure after filing a lawsuit regarding her son's death.  In June of 2012, Vermont State Police were called to check on 39-year-old Macadam Mason.  Police had said Mason acted aggressive towards them before he was tased.  A medical examiner says he died of a heart attack caused by the shock.

"We believe the evidence will show Mr. Mason had a serious disability, had a seizure the day before his death, and that seizure caused him not to process information correctly," says Taylor's attorney Robert Appel.

Taylor filed a civil rights action lawsuit in federal court Wednesday against Vermont State Police and the Department of Public Safety.  It specifically names the trooper who used the Taser.  The lawsuit says Trooper David Shaffer used "excessive and unreasonable force."  It also claims Mason's rights were violated under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"I have wanted to do this for a long time because i just don't think it's right that my son was killed," says Taylor.  "I think there are other ways this could have been handled.  He could have been talked to."

The complaint asks for compensatory and punitive damages upwards of $75,000 for Taylor.  Last Tuesday, Governor Peter Shumlin signed first in the nation legislation to regulate the use of Tasers by police.  It requires training to identify people suffering from mental illness.

"It's very important for police whose job it is to serve and protect us are held accountable for legal standards," says Appel.

Attorney General Bill Sorrel is representing the state in this case.  He expects to receive a copy of the complaint Thursday.  Until he reviews it, he says he will not make a formal statement regarding the lawsuit.                            


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