MARYVILLE, Mo. (AP) — The parents of an autistic man allege in a lawsuit that police in northwest Missouri punched him and used a Taser on him seven times.
The parents of Christopher Kramer, who was an 18-year-old high school special education student when the incident occurred, filed a lawsuit Thursday against three Maryville officers, a Nodaway County deputy and a Highway Patrol trooper. The lawsuit says Kramer has "impairments in comprehension and speech."
The lawsuit stems from an incident on May 6 when a Missouri Highway Patrol trooper called police after seeing Kramer in his front yard. Kramer had stopped to tie his shoe, but became frightened and ran when the trooper called out to him, according to the lawsuit. Kramer told a Maryville dispatcher that Kramer was "kinda headed toward my front door." After chasing him and shouting commands, officers tackled Kramer to the ground and shocked him multiple times with a Taser.
In a statement Friday, Maryville City Manager Greg McDaniel defended the city's officers and said they didn't know about "Kramer's personal circumstances."
According to the lawsuit, after being tackled and shocked once with the Taser, Kramer "confused, frightened and in pain, and not understanding at all what was happening or why, continued to struggle, cry that he wanted to go home and ask why 'police car coming.'" He was shocked six more times, the lawsuit says, and after he "made contact" with two officers, one of them allegedly punched him in the head several times before handcuffing him.
Kramer was later released to his parents and not charged after being checked by the ambulance crew.
The Kramer family is seeking an unspecified amount in damages for wrongful detention and use of excessive force.
McDaniel said in his statement that while the city understands the family's concerns, "the reality of law enforcement is that officers must make split-second decisions based on the behaviors and circumstances they witness while protecting their community."
"There simply is no way any officer could have known Mr. Kramer's personal circumstances before this issue transpired," McDaniel said. "Officers immediately responded with care and compassion upon discovery of Mr. Kramer's situation. We are confident the facts will become clear through the legal process."