A jury reached its verdict in the lawsuit of an Independence man against a former Independence police officer.
On September 14, 2014, Bryce Masters, who was then 17-years-old, went into cardiac arrest after Officer Timothy Runnels used a taser gun on him after a traffic stop.
Masters, whose father is a police officer with the Kansas City Police Department, was awarded $5 million in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages.
Friday’s verdict follows a 2016 trial in U.S. District Court after which Runnels was sentenced to four years in prison following Federal prosecutors charging him with violating Master’s civil rights.
Dash cam video from the officer’s police car showed Runnels approached Master’s car on the passenger side, asking him to completely roll down his window. Masters only rolled down the window partially, telling Runnels he could hear him.
Visibly frustrated, Runnels approached the driver’s side of Master’s car and told him to get out. Masters refused, repeatedly asking if he was being arrested. Runnels then shot Masters with a taser gun in the torso while he was still in the driver’s seat. Runnels left the taser’s electrical impulse on for about 20 seconds while he forcibly removed Masters from the car and forced him to the ground and handcuffed him.
He then dragged Masters face down from the street to the curbside, throwing him to the ground. Because Masters was handcuffed from behind, he could not break the fall. Masters then went into cardiac arrest before being revived by paramedics. His parents were initially told that if he lived he would be in a vegetative state.
Since the 2014 incident, Masters−who was in a coma following the tasing−has regained his speech and motor functions, but has a degree of brain injury from oxygen deprivation that he and his parents note has changed him.
On Friday, Master’s attorney, Kirk Presley, issued a statement in which he said, “This verdict upholds the constitutional provisions that protect us from the abuse of power. As a result of this verdict, the Masters family can now truly begin to heal.”