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Wrongful death lawsuit in taser incident settled by family, Hurricane

Published: Saturday, Dec. 29 2012 4:10 p.m. MST

Brian Cardall and his family

KSL-TV

SALT LAKE CITY — The wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of a man who died after a Hurricane police officer twice stunned him with a Taser during a bipolar episode has been settled.

Brian Cardall, 32, died following the 2009 incident, prompting his family to file a lawsuit against Hurricane City, Hurricane police officer Kenneth Thompson and Hurricane Police Chief Lynn Excell in U.S. District Court. But court records show that the case was dismissed earlier this month after the parties stipulated to a settlement.

"Defendant and plaintiffs have entered into a mutual general settlement agreement and release of all claims and move to dismiss this matter with prejudice as part of the agreement," the motion, filed by Hurricane City attorneys Peter Stirba and Julia Kyte, states. "Each party agrees to bear their own costs and attorney fees."

The lawsuit was filed by Cardall's wife, Anna, her daughters, Ava and Bella, and Brian Cardall's parents, Duane and Margaret Cardall.

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups dismissed the case in an order filed Dec. 18.  Because it was dismissed with prejudice, the suit cannot be refiled at a later time. Additional details of the settlement were not disclosed, but attorney Peter Stirba released a statement about the agreement.

"All parties to the litigation involving the tragic events of June 9, 2009 which led to the death of Brian Cardall, believe that the settlement reached in this case is in the best interest of all concerned," the statement reads. "The ultimate outcome in this case would have required a jury to consider many facts, a number of which are in dispute. However, substantial expense would be borne by both sides if this case went to trial and the emotional burden on the Cardalls and on Chief Excell and Officer Thompson would have been very real and difficult."

The settlement, which the statement said came "after a full consideration of all the factors involved," was reached despite a decision from Waddoups in January that moved the lawsuit closer to a trial after the judge ruled that some of its claims should go before a jury.

On June 9, 2009, the Cardalls were driving through Washington County on state Route 59 when Brian Cardall began acting strangely. Anna Cardall pulled over to get his medication out of the trunk. He took the medication but refused to get back in the car and took off all his clothes. Worried that he might be hit by a car, she called 911.

In the background, Brian Cardall could be heard screaming and talking about meeting the president. He also kept running into the road acting as if he were directing traffic. Police dispatchers informed responding officers that they were going into a "psychiatric" situation.

When Thompson, in uniform, and Hurricane Police Chief Lynn Excell, wearing a polo shirt with a police logo, arrived, they saw Brian Cardall standing naked in the turnout where Anna Cardall had parked the car. After initially telling Brian Cardall to “come here,” Thompson told him to get down on the ground 13 times, according to court documents.

Brian Cardall's comments indicate he believed that Thompson intended to harm Excell, and he begged him not to shoot, court documents state. “This is a standoff. Don’t shoot him” and “Standoff. Don’t shoot him, guys."

What happened next, court documents say, is subject to conflicting witness statements.

Anna Cardall testified that her husband turned toward Thompson as though he were about to say something, and Thompson deployed a Taser on him. A passing driver stated that Brian Cardall took “one small step” toward Thompson. Thompson and Excell, however, stated that Brian Cardall “charged” at Thompson, closing the distance between them very quickly, and that Thompson deployed the Taser in self-defense.

Some witnesses reported Brian Cardall tried to immediately get up, while others said he stayed on the ground. Two seconds after he used the Taser, Thompson deployed the device a second time.

Excell then handcuffed Brian Cardall. Before paramedics arrived, a third officer on the scene noticed that Cardall was not breathing and did not have a pulse. Paramedics worked on him at the scene and then transported him to a nearby hospital, where he died.

The Washington County Attorney's Office cleared Thompson of any criminal wrongdoing.

But Cardall's wife, Anna, said in the suit that Thompson should not have used his Taser on her unarmed and naked husband. The suit alleged wrongful death, use of excessive force, deprivation of constitutional rights and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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