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Taser was ineffective, expert testifies at officer’s trial

December 4, 2018

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Omaha Police Department shows officer Scotty Payne, one of the Omaha, Neb., police officers facing assault charges in the June 5, 2017, arrest of Zachary Bearheels, a mentally ill Oklahoma man, after Payne pulled the trigger of a stun gun a dozen times during his arrest and later died in hospital. A police expert has testified that Payne's stun gun didn't function correctly when he used it to try to subdue Bearheels. (Omaha Police via AP, File)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A police expert has testified that an Omaha police officer’s stun gun didn’t function correctly when he used it to try to subdue a mentally ill man.

Omaha Officer Dave Staskiewicz (STASS’-koh-wihtz) testified Monday at the trial of Scotty Payne, who is charged with felony assault in the June 5, 2017, death of 29-year-old Zachary Bearheels.

Staskiewicz says that although Payne pulled the Taser trigger 12 times, the two prongs did not attach to Bearheels during 11 of those pulls, so the stun gun largely wasn’t effective. Staskiewicz questions only one of Payne’s trigger pulls, when Bearheels was seated on the ground with his back against a police cruiser tire.

An autopsy says Bearheels suffered “sudden death associated with excited delirium,” physical struggle, restraint and use of a stun gun.

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