Pa. man who suffered heart attack allegedly caused by police Taser files suit

By Jon Campisi | Nov 11, 2011

A Montgomery County, Pa. man who claims the heart attack he suffered during a late March 2010 altercation with the police at his home was caused by officers’ use of a Taser gun has filed a federal complaint against two law enforcement agencies and two individual cops.

Philadelphia attorney Olugbenga O. Abiona filed suit Nov. 7 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Pottstown, Pa. residents Michael and Kathleen Ogin.

The defendants named in the civil action are the New Hanover Township Police Department, the Lower Pottsgrove Police Department, New Hanover police Officer Bradley Shup and Lower Pottsgrove Officer Kienle, whose first name is not stated in the complaint.

According to the complaint, the two defendant officers showed up to the plaintiff’s home on March 20, 2010, after reportedly receiving a 911 call for a domestic dispute.

Upon the officers’ arrival, the plaintiffs informed the cops that the couple owned the residence, hadn’t made any 911 calls, and had no need for police presence on their property, although they admitted to having been involved in an earlier argument, the lawsuit states.

Nevertheless, Michael Ogin was suddenly “grabbed” by Officer Shup, who attempted to handcuff the man, but did not succeed because of the plaintiff’s size, the suit states.

The plaintiffs informed the cops that Michael Ogin had not committed any offenses, and that the situation was a big misunderstanding, the suit claims. Still, the officers attempted to use “unnecessary and excessive force to place Michael Ogin into handcuffs behind his back.”

When the officers realized they couldn’t handcuff Ogin, Shup shot the man twice with a Taser gun directly into his chest, causing Michael Ogin to “immediately suffer successive heart attacks,” the lawsuit claims.

“Defendants’ shooting a Tazer gun at Plaintiff Michael Ogin was unnecessary and excessive under the surrounding circumstances,” the lawsuit states.

The officers informed the couple that they were unable to use just one pair of handcuffs to secure Ogin’s hands behind his back because of his physical size and weight, something that the plaintiffs claim to have told the cops before the ordeal began, according to the complaint.

“But they refused to listen and tazed him anyway, causing Michael Ogin to suffer [a] heart attack,” the suit claims.

The lawsuit claims that Michael Ogin’s constitutional rights were violated during the course of the incident. It blames the two respective police departments for failing to properly train its officers regarding false arrests, unlawful searches and seizures, police abuses, using excessive force and malicious prosecutions.

“Had these individual defendants Shup and Kienle received appropriate training and discipline from their respective Police Departments, they would have known that they lacked probable cause for the arrest of the Plaintiff Michael Ogin, that they should not be using excessive and unreasonable force to place Plaintiff under arrest and detention, and that to do so would violate Plaintiff’s Constitutional Rights,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit contains assault and battery claims against the individual officers, as well as a common law abuse of process count against the two cops.

The plaintiffs seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as damages for pain and suffering, emotional pain and suffering, loss of consortium, attorney’s fees and other court relief.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-06965-RB.

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