The University of Cincinnati will pay $2 million and suspend using Tasers by university police as part of a settlement with the family of a student who died after being shocked with a Taser.
The settlement, also requires UC to create a memorial for the student, to provide free tuition to his siblings and to send a letter to the family expressing regret over the incident. The student, Everette Howard Jr., died Aug. 6, 2011, after a confrontation with a UC police officer. A coroner’s investigation could not determine the cause of death, but Howard’s family and expert witnesses blamed the shock from the Taser.
Howard’s death and the uproar that followed thrust UC into an intensifying national debate over the safety and proper use of Tasers, which incapacitate suspects by sending 50,000 volts of electricity into the body.
“For these parents, there is no amount of money that could ever replace their son,” a family spokesman said. “It was important to them to approach this litigation with the goal of making a difference and preventing future deaths.”
UC spokesman Greg Hand said the settlement was “amicable” and that the school has no intention of resuming using Tasers “until we have more information about their effectiveness.”
The settlement requires the school to install a memorial bench and plaque at the site where Howard died, and it includes a letter from UC President Santa Ono expressing his regret for Howard’s death. “I want to extend our very deepest regrets to you and your family for the loss of your son,” Ono wrote in the letter. “By all accounts, Everette was a truly amazing young man with a tremendously bright future ahead of him.”
According to UC’s internal report, Haas encountered Howard around 2 a.m. when he responded to a call about a fight at Turner Hall. Witneses told the investigators Howard threw no punches in the fight and was trying to help a friend fend off attackers.