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Man sues Marin sheriff after being Tased at home

August 30, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Marin County man has filed suit against the Marin County Sheriff's Department for an incident in which he says law enforcement officers went too far. Peter McFarland was Tased inside his own home as his wife watched, begging officers to stop.

On June 29, 2009 McFarland and his wife Pearl were returning home from a charity fundraiser just before midnight. McFarland injured himself as he stumbled and fell down the long steps to his front door.

"Mainly it was to my knee and the front of my leg, my shin," McFarland said.

His wife called paramedics, who helped him into the house and treated him. As the paramedics were leaving, two sheriff's deputies arrived.

"All of a sudden, they just showed up, they came in here like there was a fire going on, like a gunfight was going on," McFarland said.

What happened in the following minutes was captured on a camera mounted on the deputy's Taser.

The deputy tells McFarland he is going to take him to the hospital because he may be suicidal.

"We want to take you to the hospital for an evaluation, you said if you had a gun, you'd shoot yourself in the head," the deputy can be heard saying.

McFarland says it was just hyperbole. He was tired and in pain.

The deputy orders him numerous times to get up or else.

"Stand up, put your hands behind your back or you're going to be Tased," the deputy says.

McFarland keeps refusing.

The exchange goes on for about five minutes; his wife keeps pleading with the deputies not to Tase him, saying he has a heart condition.

Then, McFarland tells the deputies in no uncertain terms to leave.

As he gets up to go to bed, McFarland is Tased. Not once, but three times.

"There's got to be a problem in terms of training and on supervising deputy sheriffs in the county; it's hard to imagine something so shocking could happen," McFarland's attorney John Scott said.

McFarland says he never had any suicidal thoughts. In fact, he considers himself lucky to be alive.

"I'm a survivor of pancreatic cancer; one of 4 percent in this country," McFarland said.

Scott says his client was arrested, jailed and charged with resisting arrest. A judge later dismissed the charge.

Scott says the deputies had no search warrant or legal reason to enter McFarland's home and even if they thought he was drunk and suicidal, Scott says the Tasing was excessive force.

ABC7's calls to the Marin County Sheriff's Department were not returned.


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