GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Matthew Bolick died in his home in 2009 after getting Tased by two East Grand Rapids Department of Public Safety officers. His family has now filed a federal law suit against the department and the officers.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court. It alleges that the two officers who Tased Bolick in 2009 violated his constitutional rights.
Bill Mills is the attorney for Bolick's family. He told 24 Hour News 8 that he believes Bolick's 4th and 14th Amendment rights were violated, as well as provisons under Section 1983 of the U.S. Code.
Mills said an investigation performed on behalf of his clients, Bolick's family, reinforced one thing:
"Matt Bolick should have been alive today. No question in my mind."
The suit names the City of East Grand Rapids; the two officers involved in the incident, Sgt. Brian Davis and Officer Gary Parker; and the director of the Department of Public Safety.
It alleges that the two officers were grossly negligent, used excessive force and that they weren't properly trained on how to use their Tasers.
"The use of Tasers in this case was excessive," Mills said, "which we think escalated the situation with Matt."
The night Bolick died, his father called 911 asking for help. The suit said Bolick's father told dispatchers his son had "completely freaked out."
Police told 24 Hour News 8 in 2009 that Bolick had punched one of the officers in the face and ran before he was Tased.
At a press conference after the incident, Director of Public Safety Mark Herald told the press, "I'm very comfortable with what I believe, that you know, the officers were objectively reasonable in what they did."
The Kent County Prosecutor decided not to criminally charge either officer in connection with the incident.
The county medical examiner ruled that Bolick, 30, died of acute exhaustive mania, also called excited delirium syndrome. The medical examiner said the Tasing did not cause Bolick's death.
The new suit alleges the two officers activated their Tasers more than 20 times that night.
"We live in a society where we have a constitution," said Mills. "This isn't Iraq or Iran. We have a constitution, or principles, and people are held accountable to those principles, and it became very clear that what happened to Matt shouldn't have happened to him or any other person in our society."
That goal is why Mills said his clients are pursuing this case, even though they want to move on.
"I have never once heard from my clients anything about money," said Mills. "It was always 'let's get the story straight.'"
The suit doesn't specify an amount of money Bolick's family is looking for. It asks for "whatever amount the jury deems reasonable."
Neither the attorney for the Department of Public Safety nor anyone from the department returned calls for comment Tuesday evening.
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