Officer Timothy Runnels is serving a four-year prison sentence for violating Masters’ civil rights.
Bryce Masters has been awarded more than $6.5 million by a Missouri jury for a 2014 incident where an Independence police officer tasered the teen at a traffic stop — leading him to suffer cardiac arrest — and then was seen on video taunting the unconscious teen.
Masters was 17 at the time of the incident and had sued the city of Independence along with police officer Timothy Runnels, who shot the teen with a taser after Masters refused to get out of his car. As Fox 4 Kansas City reported, Masters nearly died after he lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest. The lawsuit claimed that his heart stopped for close to seven minutes while no one from the police department tried to resuscitate him. Masters was eventually revived using a heart defibrillator.
Dash cam video showed Runnels using the stun gun on the teen, then dragging his limp body to the curb and dropped Masters face down onto the hard pavement. As the Kansas City Star noted, Masters was losing consciousness and unable to break the fall because he was handcuffed, and video shows him slamming hard into the ground before moaning in pain.
“You don’t like to play by the rules, do you?” Runnels reportedly said to the unconscious Masters, who broke his teeth from being slammed into the curb.
Runnels was accused of continuing to use the stun gun after the teen was no longer a threat, then lying on the police report about the amount of force he had used.
Runnels had already pleaded guilty to violating Bryce Masters’ civil rights and was sentenced to four years in federal prison.
The guilty plea was announced by the Department of Justice in 2015.
“The use of excessive force by law enforcement officers is a serious offense that strikes at the heart of Constitutional protections for all citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Dickinson of the Western District of Missouri. “This former police officer who violated his sworn duty to protect and serve should not reflect upon the vast majority of officers who perform their duties with integrity and professionalism.”
A jury awarded Masters $5 million in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages.
“Today the jury sent a clear message to law enforcement that excessive force will not be tolerated,” Bryce Masters’ attorney Kirk Presley told Fox 4 Kansas City. “This verdict upholds the constitutional provisions that protect us all from the abuse of power. As a result of this verdict, the Masters family can now truly begin to heal.”
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