KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mediation is the next step for a federal lawsuit that alleges a former Missouri police officer nearly killed a teenager with a stun gun during a 2014 traffic stop.
Online court records show Bryce Masters’ lawsuit was filed against the city of Independence, its former police chief and the former officer who fired the stun gun, Timothy Runnels. A mediator is set to hear the case Aug. 9. Barring a settlement, the case is set for trial in October 2018.
Masters was 17 at the time of the September 2014 confrontation with Runnels. Witnesses have testified that Masters went into cardiac arrest when Runnels shot him in the chest with a Taser after Masters refused to get out of his car.
The lawsuit alleges Masters’ heart had stopped for more than seven minutes by the time an ambulance arrived. No one had tried resuscitating him, and he was revived using a heart defibrillator.
Video from Runnel’s patrol car shows Runnels using the stun gun on Masters and, after Masters went limp from the electrical charges, handcuffing him and dragging him to the curb, where he dropped Masters on the pavement face-down.
“You don’t like to play by the rules, do you?” the lawsuit quotes Runnels as telling the unresponsive Masters, whose teeth were broken when they hit the pavement.
Runnels, in his response to the lawsuit, admitted making that comment and shooting Masters with the stun gun after he resisted efforts to pull him out of the vehicle.
Runnels pleaded guilty to violating Masters’ civil rights and apologized in court to Masters, saying he never meant to harm him. Runnels was sentenced in June 2016 to four years in federal prison.
According to prosecutors in the criminal case, Runnels “continuously” shocked Masters with his stun gun while Masters was on the ground and unthreatening, then submitted a misleading police report that omitted or falsely described the amount of force he used.
Runnels also tried to hinder the police department’s investigation of the matter, prosecutors alleged.