GREENWOOD, Ind. – The family of a man who died after being tased by a Greenwood police officer last year has filed a federal lawsuit in the case.
Charles Todero, 30, was walking home from his father’s funeral on May 29, 2016, when an officer encountered him. Todero was carrying a Bible with him.
According to the account from the Greenwood Police Department, Todero was “exhibiting strange and dangerous behavior” and “walking in and out of traffic.” Police said Lt. Brian Blackwell, who was acquainted with Todero, used the Taser to prevent Todero from walking into traffic and potentially being hit by a car.
The department released body camera footage last year from the encounter.
However, Steven Art, attorney with Loevy & Loevy who is representing the Todero family in the case, says the only crime Todero committed on the day of the incident was jaywalking. The lawsuit contendsTodero “had done nothing to provoke or justify Defendant Blackwell’s brutal and deadly assault.”
The lawsuit claims police tased Todero excessively—16 times in 98 seconds. The number exceeds the safety recommendations of the manufacturer, Axon, the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit said Todero’s heart stopped after he was tased and that hospital tests revealed “tell-tale signs of Taser-related injury— severe metabolic acidosis (from the release of lactic acid with each involuntary muscle contraction caused by the 16 electric shocks), high blood potassium, and kidney damage.” Todero suffered a series of heart attacks, the lawsuit claimed, before experiencing organ failure and dying on June 11, 2016.
“Every single sign that we see in victims of excessive Taser use was present in Charles Todero,” Art said during the news conference on Tuesday.
Todero’s younger brother and mother also spoke with reporters outside the federal courthouse Tuesday afternoon.
"I still can't believe you're gone. I'm absolutely crushed and broken inside,” James Todero, Charles’ older brother, said.
Teresa Todero, Charles’ mother, said Charles made the responsible decision to walk home from his father’s funeral because he knew he would be too upset to drive. “Because he made a responsible decision, he got persecuted for it trying to get home,” she said.
Teresa says they watched the body cam footage by Greenwood police. “The last thing we heard him say was 'I didn't do anything.' That's just it. He didn't do anything,” Teresa said.
The city of Greenwood released the following statement about the pending lawsuit:
The City of Greenwood is aware of the lawsuit filed this morning by the Estate of Charles Todero and the incident giving rise to it. It received a copy of the complaint this morning from media outlets and has not yet been served. The City disputes many of the factual allegations contained in the Complaint and denies all of its claims. Due to the pendency of litigation, the City will have no further comment.