"They tortured him"; police used Taser on special needs teen for breaking window before shooting him

Suburban officer tases, shoots teen with special needs

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It was a broken window complaint that led to a 14-year-old boy being shot by a police officer.

But before being shot, the teen had been repeatedly tasered. The intense pain caused the teen to run.

Dave Savini and the CBS 2 Investigators reveal a disturbing trend of who officers are more likely to use Tasers on. 

"My man I'm going to tell you something here…"

The 14-year-old boy scratching his head and the girl next to him was being questioned by Sauk Village police about a broken window.

Officer: "Do me a favor keep, keep your hands out of your pockets bro. Just keep your hands out of your pockets."

Boy: "We're coming out here to see friends."

Officer: "You're coming out here to see friends? Okay."

Things escalated quickly. The teen was shocked repeatedly with an electroshock weapon - a Taser delivering voltage and an electrical discharge causing an immense amount of pain.

"This kid did not deserve what they dished out," said Bettina Washington, the boy's legal guardian.

Washington calls the boy her son. CBS 2 showed her body camera footage that had been kept secret for a year and a half. A chilling sound that lasted for 11 seconds.

Bettina Washington is the guardian of the 14-year-old stunned and shot by officers.  CBS 2 Chicago

"Why did he do that?" she said crying. 

Lisa Thurau has studied the misuse of Tasers on children around the country as director of the nonprofit, Strategies for Youth.

"Each time I see something like this, after doing this for so long, I am still outraged, terrified, and revolted. I feel for this kid," she said.

Her organization works with law enforcement and kids, by helping to create policies and training programs to avoid situations like this.

"This is what I call use of force for officer expedience," Thurau said. "No, that is not why you use force with anybody. You don't do it so that you can punish or cause them pain. You don't do it to subjugate them and teach them their place. You don't do it because you don't feel like running. That's not what an officer uses force for. That's not an acceptable justifiable use of force under any legal framework in the United States."

There are two settings for Officer Seth Brown's Taser; one setting shoots darts connected to wires, penetrating skin to immobilize a person. The other setting is called Drive Stun Mode, where the device is directly pressed against a person like a cattle prod. Brown was seen pressing his into the teen's clothing.

CBS 2 Chicago

"He said he felt like he was getting electrocuted," Washington said.

"To do the Drive Stun Mode, even though it was through the young man's clothes, is especially bothersome, because that is done to cause pain. Pain compliance, and the use of pain to get young people to comply, is just wrong, especially for a broken window," Thurau said.

Thurau's nationwide examination of decades of lawsuits involving Tasers, also called "Conducted Electrical Weapons," found the devices were used on a disproportionate number of children of color and children with disabilities.

Washington says her son fits that description and attends a specialized school.

"A 14-year-old. A special needs 14-year-old, who has disorders, who do not understand what is going on," she said.

Thurau: "Without understanding the lethal and sometimes long-term consequences of Tasers, you're putting a whole lot of kids at risk, and you're not giving officers what they need; which is policies, training, and guidance about the risk of this kind of weapon on kids."

Savini: "Is there any kind of uniformity for Taser incidents to be tracked?

Thurau: "Regrettably, there is no uniformity, no consistency in data collection within states, across states, between departments. It is highly problematic, so we don't know how often Tasers are used, know when they are used on kids. We don't know what the outcomes are."

Thurau pointed to other cases of Tasers she says were wrongly deployed on children, including an 11-year-old girl in Cincinnati who was suspected of shoplifting, and a 16-year-old in Florida who was simply waiting for his girlfriend at her backdoor. He fell and smashed his head.

Back in Sauk Village things are about to escalate even more.

"He was treated like an animal," Washington said.  

As her son got away from the Taser, he started to sprint. At that point, his encounter with police became nearly fatal. The other officer, Sergeant Scott Langan, drew his gun from his holster, aimed it, and fired - shooting the teen just below his belt on his hip.

Fearing he might get shot again, he hid in a nearby yard, bleeding.  

Teen shot by officer after being stunned by Taser in Sauk Village. 
Illinois State Police

Washington: "They tortured that 14-year-old kid. They tortured him."

Savini: "He thought they were going to kill him?"

Washington: "He said he thought they was going to find him and kill him."

When paramedics arrived, the 8th grader came out of hiding for medical help and was taken to a hospital. 

The teen suffered injuries after being stunned and shot by officers in Sauk Village.  Illinois State Police

Days later, Sergeant Langan told officials investigating his actions that the shooting was an accident and he thought he was firing his Taser.

"He has to live with those bruises from getting tased the rest of his life. The gunshot wound. He has to live with that," Washington said crying.  

Bettina Washington is upset that neither officer was charged for their role in injuring the teen, and she's also upset to learn a police disciplinary investigation into the incident didn't even begin until last month - a year and a half after the teen was tasered and shot.

We will stay on it. 

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