The widow of a man who was tasered to death by sheriff's deputies in May 2017 has filed a wrongful death claim against the County of San Diego. The claim is the first step before filing a civil lawsuit.
In the November 15 claim acquired by the Reader, Collette Adkins says deputies fired multiple charges into Mark Adkins. He died later.
Deputies were called to an apartment complex off of Lemon Grove Way in Lemon Grove on the morning of May 20, 2017, to investigate calls that a man had hopped a fence into a private backyard. When deputies arrived they found 54-year-old Adkins sitting in a outdoor common area at the complex.
According to reports, Adkins refused to follow the deputies' orders. Adkins’s failure to comply, says the complaint, prompted several deputies to begin firing their tasers at him.
"During this encounter, the unidentified deputies repeatedly deployed their electronic control devices against Mr. Adkins, causing him to collapse on the ground, and continued to use their tasers against Mr. Adkins as he lay on the ground with his hands in the air, pleading for them to stop. The powerful electronic currents delivered by the Taser barbs caused Mr. Adkins to seize, spasm, and convulse for an extended amount of time. The unidentified deputies knew or should have known that continuous and repeated deployment of a powerful weapon such as an electronic control device can result in serious bodily injury or death."
A neighbor in a nearby unit recorded the incident and told reporters that he had heard three charges fired during the altercation.
The claim alleges that deputies then pinned Adkins down and called for medical assistance. Adkins soon became unresponsive and later died.
"The use of these Tasers in this manner and these circumstances constituted excessive force in violation of Mr. Adkins's civil and statutory rights, and his untimely death was directly and proximately caused by the unlawful conduct described above."
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department and the County of San Diego have been sued over the use of tasers before. In May 2017, as reported by the Reader, the county agreed to pay $3 million to a man who had to undergo multiple amputations and suffered brain damage and was paralyzed after deputies repeatedly tasered him in a Vista shopping-mall parking lot.
The county has 45 days to process and investigate the claim. If it is denied then a lawsuit can be filed.