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Mother of Macadam Mason Speaks Out about New Taser Law

Two years after a Thetford man was killed by a Taser, Vermont has become the first state in the nation to regulate the electronic control device.
MONTPELIER - Two years after a Thetford man was killed by a Taser, Vermont has become the first state in the nation to regulate the electronic control device.

"He was just very gifted and I miss him terribly," said Rhonda Taylor, crying as she remembered her son Macadam Mason, who she called by his middle name, Lee.

But Taylor was also celebrating the victory of a new law that regulates the device that killed him.

"A Taser is a good weapon for law enforcement because when used properly, it is less lethal than a bullet," said Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-Vt.) before signing the bill into law Tuesday.

39-year-old Mason died in 2012 after State Police stunned him with a Taser. The trooper was deemed not to be a fault, but the case questioned Vermont's Taser use policy, since Mason suffered from mental illness and had a seizure disorder.

"My son didn't have a weapon," Taylor said. "It was a wellness check. He hadn't done anything wrong, and had called for help."

The new law includes required training for police to identify people suffering from mental illness.

"I think it would've slowed things down at the scene," Taylor said.

State Rep. James Masland, a Thetford Democrat, was the lead sponsor of the bill. Mason lived in his district.

"If comprehensive training...was in place, Macadam Mason would be with us today," he said. "I think that's very clear."

The law also clarifies when a Taser can be deployed.

"It clearly defines between active and passive resistance, and when you can really use it, and what type of response you can use," said Keith Flynn, the Commissioner for the Department of Public Safety.

Rhonda Taylor can't get her son back, but she seeks solace in his paintings, his dog, "Bear," and knowing that her tough fight for this new law could save the lives of other Vermonters.

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