Police Taser Man to Death and Cost City $1 Million
The city of San Jose must pay $1 million to the family of a truck driver who was Tasered to death by four police officers.
Steve Salinas, 47, was naked and high on PCP when police confronted him at a motel in 2007. He weighed 260 pounds and was grunting unintelligibly but was unarmed. Three of the officers admitted they urged a fourth officer, Barry Chickayasu, to zap Salinas. Chichayasu Tasered him 10 times in 93 seconds.
The city started using Tasers in 2004 thinking it would cut down on police shootings; since then there have been at least five deaths of people shocked by Taser guns.
This is the first time the city has lost a lawsuit over Taser deaths.
At trial, the city argued the police had to use the Taser against Salinas repeatedly so that they could handcuff him.
But Dale Galipo, who represented Salinas’ four adult children at trial, told the jury that his client was naked, unarmed and did not put up a fight. He also argued that the officers violated their own guidelines that say they should avoid multiple Taser stuns, that prolonged Taser shocks can kill, and that drug users face higher risk of bad reactions to Taser shocks.
The jury may have also been struck by the fact that Chickayasu, who is no longer a police officer, did not show up to defend his use of the Taser.
The jury found that the police used unreasonable force and awarded $1 million.
After the verdict, Noreen Salinas, 35, one of the victim’s four children, said she was grateful the jury saw the truth. “It’s justice for my father.”