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Minneapolis man with mental illness sues city over Taser use

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Taser gun
A representative from Taser International shows a X26 stun gun.
hristopher Furlong | Getty Images

A Minneapolis man is suing the city and two police officers, saying he was shocked with a Taser stun gun in violation of the city police department's policies during a mental health crisis in 2017. 

Clifford Johnson alleges the tasing was excessive force and not in compliance with the department's policies on the use of Tasers and de-escalation.  

Officers Kevin Franek and Brian Cummings were responding to reports from a neighbor that Johnson has a mental illness and that he had been yelling in the street. The lawsuit says Johnson has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and other mental health issues.  

According to the lawsuit, Johnson cooperated with the officers, following orders and trying to calm himself down, and that the officers' behavior exacerbated Johnson's mental health crisis.

"The use of the Taser caused Mr. Johnson to suffer a severe mental breakdown, which required hospitalization for approximately 10 days and then a prolonged period of outpatient treatment and recovery," the lawsuit said.

In response, the city said Johnson was drunk and shouting profanities, and the officer only used the Taser when Johnson resisted efforts to handcuff him.  

"Defendant's actions were justified by plaintiff's actions," the city's legal response said.