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Autistic Missouri man loses lawsuit over police arrest

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The parents of a Missouri man with autism who was shocked several times with a Taser during a confrontation that began when he stopped to tie his shoe lost their lawsuit over how his arrest was conducted.

A federal grand jury on Thursday did not award damages to Ernest and Ellas Kramer, who sued the city of Maryville and two police officers after their son, Christopher, was arrested in Maryville in 2016. They sought $2 million in damages for wrongful detention and excessive use of force.

The Kramers’ attorney, Arthur Benson, said he was considering filing a motion for a new trial, Kansas City radio station KCUR reported.

In closing arguments Wednesday, Benson said police had no reason to detain Christopher, who was 18 at the time, even after he ran from them.

“It’s not criminal to go on someone’s lawn, to be in someone’s yard,” Benson said. “There was no criminal activity whatsoever.”

The officers’ attorney, David S. Baker, acknowledged Kramer ran and tried to avoid arrest because of his autism.

“But it’s also not the officers’ fault because they didn’t know about his disability,” he said.

The lawsuit alleged that Kramer was walking home from school when he stopped on the edge of Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper Jim David Farmer’s yard to tie his shoelace.

Farmer approached Kramer, who ran away. Farmer then called Maryville police because he said Kramer was walking toward his front door.

Two officers arrived and began chasing Kramer. A third officer then arrived and tackled Kramer.

Police body cam video introduced during the trial showed two officers ordering Kramer to stop resisting as he wailed and screamed that he wanted to go home. Kramer was shot with the Taser several times and one of the officers struck him with a baton as he continued to struggle and cry. A fourth officer arrived and stunned Kramer two more times before he was subdued and handcuffed.

The lawsuit originally named all four officers, but the two officers who arrived on the scene later were dismissed from the case. U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. instructed the jury not to consider the parents’ claims against the city of Maryville, but he did not explain why he did so.

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Information from: KCUR-FM, http://www.kcur.org

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