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State settles lawsuit over Tasered child

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Officer said incident at career day was an accident

The state has settled a lawsuit brought on behalf of a 10-year-old boy who was Tasered by an officer in the New Mexico Motor Transportation Police during a career day at his Tularosa school.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William Lynch approved the settlement – the precise amount of which is confidential – at a hearing earlier this month, and the lawsuit was dismissed Monday with “no admission, finding or implication of negligence, liability or wrongdoing” by the officer, Chris Webb.

Lynch’s approval of the settlement came after he heard testimony from the boy’s mother, statements from attorneys and from the guardian ad litem, Rachel Higgins. Her report details questions of fact and law that the judge said would have involved extensive investigation and probably would have led to at least one appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The lawsuit alleged Webb pointed the stun gun at the boy after the boy made a joke and said, “Let me show you what happens to people who do not listen to the police.”

According to the lawsuit, Webb was presenting at a career day program at Tularosa Intermediate School, which serves students in third through sixth grade. He asked a group of students if they would like to clean his patrol car, and according to the suit, the 10-year-old victim “jokingly” said he did not want to.

Webb pointed his stun gun at the boy, commented about consequences for people not listening to police and Tased the boy in the chest, sending 50,000 volts of electricity through his body for five seconds, the lawsuit said. The boy, who weighs less than 100 pounds, blacked out.

In its response, the state said Webb was also joking around, and that the weapon fire was an accidental discharge. The state denied Webb made the comment about what happens to people who don’t listen to police.

The state admitted that at least one of the barbs penetrated the shirt but said legal precedent in federal court bars suit for an officer’s accidental, negligent or careless use of force.