By Brett Gillin
Taxpayers in the City of Torrance California are footing the bill for a $2 million settlement involving a couple of their police officers. In the recently released court documents, details have emerged in the suit between Officer Zachary Bazilius and Sgt. Martin McGee which lead to the huge settlement. According to these documents, Bazilius was severely injured when McGee discharged a Taser.
CBS Los Angeles reports that Bazilius told his superiors that he was suffering through back pain before the incident, which occurred in July of 2010. Then, during the morning roll call at the Torrance Police Department, McGee decided to test whether Bazilius was telling the truth by firing off a Taser directly behind Bazilius’ head. Although the Taser’s probes did not fire from the weapon, it caused Bazilius to lurch forward from his seat, causing what Bazilius and his lawyers say were permanent injuries.
Immediately after firing off the Taser, court documents claim that McGee said “I guess he’s not faking it.” The 35-year-old officer claimed that he told his superiors, he wouldn’t be able to get out of his chair due to his back pain, according to this article on the Daily Breeze. When McGee tested that notion, Bazilius moved rapidly, but did not leave his seat.
Bazilius’ injuries became worse when Bazilius fell a couple months later, while on duty. According to the Daily Breeze, that fall was attributed directly to the results of the injury caused by the Taser event. One of the more interesting aspects of the subsequent court battle was whether or not Bazilius was actually shocked by the Taser or if he was simply startled by the sound.
“It’s my understanding that he wasn’t [shocked]… He heard the noise, and the noise startled him. And that caused him to lurch forward and hurt his back,” Torrance Mayor Patrick Furey told reporters with CBS Los Angeles. Furey also explained to reporters why the suit was settled.
“We already expended more than $600,000 in defense costs,” Furey explained. Furey also told reporters that McGee was disciplined for the event, having to undergo training, but he remains employed with the department. When reporters asked former Councilman Tom Brewer, one of the men to approve the settlement, what he thought of McGee still being employed, he was surprised.
“I’m surprised he’s still employed,” Brewer told reporters with the Daily Breeze. “If he caused that kind of damage and problems, there should be some follow-up on that.”
There is no word as to whether McGee faces additional discipline after the settlement. Bazilius retired from the department in May of 2013.