UPDATE: $1.75 million lawsuit filed against County, City after woman wrongfully tased at jail
Nancy Mason falls to the floor after being tased by a Hamilton County Sheriff's Sergeant inside the Hamilton County Jail.
A woman who authorities admit was inappropriately tased while being booked in jail is now suing for almost $2 million.
Nancy Mason is still recovering from a fractured wrist after falling to the ground at the Hamilton County Jail after a sergeant with the sheriff’s department used his taser on the woman. He said he used the force when she refused to remove her earrings, which is a rule as someone is being booked into jail.
Attorney Robin Flores filed a lawsuit Thursday morning in Hamilton County Circuit Court that asks for $750,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages. He also asks for a jury trial on all issues.
Flores says his client’s First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution were violated. He further says that Mason was subjected to mental anguish, emotional distress, and severe physical injuries that require continued care.
“Whenever there's a constitutional wrong done to one person, it's going to be done to everybody and somebody needs to step in to help. Lawyers are usually in the best position to do that,” Flores said.
Mason was arrested on March 21, 2015 by Chattanooga Police Officer Gregory Tate for theft. While being booked into the Hamilton County Jail, Mason refused to take off her earrings. After warning her to remove her jewelry, Hamilton County Sergeant Rodney Terrell deployed his Taser on Mason, causing her to fall and fracture her right wrist.
“She was brought in for theft and she didn't have a lot of money. We're not justifying the conduct that got her into custody but this woman has no other way to have her injuries fully addressed medically without some kind of relief from these defendants,” he said.
Flores said he named Tate in the lawsuit because he was present for the event and “had not relinquished his custody of the plaintiff fully to the County, for he had not completed the booking process required before relinquishing his custody.”
“She was still in his custody. We allege that officer had a duty to protect her from what was going on right in front of him,” Flores said.
In addition to Tate and Terrell being named in the lawsuit, Flores lists the City of Chattanooga, Hamilton County and four other corrections officers as defendants.
Flores alleges that during the investigation, the defendants gave statements designed to cover-up and minimize the actions of Terrell.
“She fears police, she fears being around them and she fears seeing them,” Flores said.
Hamilton County is named in the lawsuit because it is responsible for the sheriff’s department, the jail and its inmates. The City of Chattanooga is named in the lawsuit because it is responsible for the police department, its officers and those who are in police custody.
The sheriff’s spokesperson said they won’t be issuing a formal comment as this is now a legal matter. The Chattanooga Police Department said “Any questions concerning pending litigation should be directed to city legal.”