A federal lawsuit that alleges a former Independence police officer nearly killed a teenager with a stun gun during a 2014 traffic stop has been scheduled for mediation with a former Jackson County Circuit Court judge.
According to court records, the mediator is scheduled to hear the case Aug. 9. The lawsuit was filed by Bryce Masters, who was 17 at the time of his confrontation with police Officer Timothy Runnels.
The lawsuit was filed against the city of Independence, its former police chief, Taser International and Runnels, who was prosecuted in federal court and sentenced to serve four years in prison for violating Masters’ civil rights. Masters suffered a brain injury that continues to affect his memory and cognitive abilities, according to the lawsuit.
Barring a settlement, the case is set for trial in October 2018.
Never miss a local story.
Witnesses have testified that Masters went into cardiac arrest when Runnels shot him in the chest with a Taser after Masters refused to get out of his car.
According to the lawsuit, Masters’ heart stopped for more than seven minutes before an ambulance arrived. No one had tried resuscitating him, and he was revived using a heart defibrillator.
Video from Runnels’ patrol car shows Runnels using the stun gun on Masters and, after Masters went limp, handcuffing him and dragging him to the curb, where he dropped Masters face-down on the pavement.
“You don’t like to play by the rules, do you?” the lawsuit quotes Runnels as telling the unresponsive Masters, whose teeth were broken when they hit the pavement. Runnels admitted making that comment in his response to the lawsuit.
Runnels was a former Kansas City police officer who had been “compelled” to resign because of “poor judgment and temperament” before being hired in Independence, according to the lawsuit.
Runnels pleaded guilty to violating Masters’ civil rights and apologized to Masters in court, saying he never meant to harm him. Runnels was sentenced in June 2016 to four years in federal prison.
According to prosecutors in the criminal case, Runnels “continuously” shocked Masters with his stun gun while Masters was on the ground, then submitted a misleading police report that omitted or falsely described the amount of force he used.
Runnels also tried to hinder the Police Department’s investigation of the matter, prosecutors alleged.
Assigned as mediator in the civil case is former Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Jay Daugherty.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.