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Mom sues Vermont trooper in Taser death - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Mom sues Vermont trooper in Taser death

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Rhonda Taylor Rhonda Taylor
Macadam Mason Macadam Mason
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Two years of grief-- that's what Rhonda Taylor says she has experienced since the death of her son, Macadam Mason, who she says was wrongfully killed. Now, she's suing the state police trooper she says is responsible.

"Nothing will bring him back. We live with that every day, but I'm hoping this will make a difference for others with losses such as ours," Taylor said.

Taylor filed a civil suit in Burlington's U.S. District Court alleging Trooper David Schaffer used excessive force in discharging his Taser. The suit also alleges Schaffer caused emotional distress.

"We do bring an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against Trooper Schaffer for pointing first a rifle and then tasing Mason because it obviously would put him in emotional distress prior to his losing consciousness," said Robert Appel, Taylor's lawyer.

Macadam Mason died due to a heart attack after he was tased by Trooper Schaffer in 2012. Mason suffered from seizures and mental health issues. With Mason threatening suicide, police arrived on scene that day to help the Thetford man, but tased Mason in the chest in an effort to control him. State police said Mason acted aggressively, resisted arrest and lunged toward the officer before he discharged his Taser. Mason died soon after and the medical examiner found the stun gun to be the cause.

"I feel that people need to be accountable for the death of my son," Taylor said.

Appel says the state has not reached out to try to settle the case. We reached out to Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn, who directed us to their communications office. Spokesperson Stephanie Dasaro told us it would be inappropriate to comment on pending civil litigation.

Vermont's attorney general cleared Schaffer of any criminal wrongdoing, saying the officer felt he was in danger.

Appel says now is the appropriate time to file the civil suit because they did not want to overshadow the signing of the new Taser bill, signed into law by Gov. Peter Shumlin, that will limit the use of the stun guns.

"We frankly didn't want it to get mixed up in the Taser bill conversation and we also wanted it to be filed in a timely fashion," Appel said.

If Taylor's lawsuit is successful, the proceeds will go to Mason's daughter, Cassidy. While the state police found in their investigation the officer had sufficient reason to use the stun gun, the family's attorney, Robert Appel, says he will argue the officer should have followed a rule stating that the Taser could not be used on an individual suffering from epilepsy.

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