Updated:CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C.,None — A Cabarrus County man is suing the Sheriff's Office, saying deputies were not justified when they shot him with a Taser in April.
"It was like lightning was just arcing from arm to arm, and the pain was excruciating," Dale Cook said. "And I yelled, 'Let up!' but they wouldn't let up, so I hit the ground."
Cook said that was the second that changed his life. He is now in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down after he broke his back when he fell 15 feet from a tree stand in his back yard.
Sheriff's deputies had a warrant to arrest Cook after his wife, Tammy, went to police after the two had a fight. When deputies arrived at their Kannapolis home, they found Cook sitting in the tree stand.
Cabarrus County Sheriff Brad Riley told Eyewitness News that he was told deputies tried to get Cook down from the stand to issue the warrant. They said it was dark, so it was tough to see Cook, but they thought he had a knife. After spending much time talking with Cook, "they had every reason to believe in that time that he was attempting to harm himself," Riley said.
That's when deputies shot Cook with a Taser. Riley said Cook fell down soon after that, but not immediately after. Deputies don't think that the Taser caused him to fall, Riley said.
The deputies' "Policy and Procedure" manual states that a Taser may be used "if there is the threat of a suspect injuring him or herself."
The State Bureau of Investigation also investigated the incident and from its report, the Cabarrus County District Attorney determined that the deputies did not use excessive force.
Still, Cook said he never gave deputies any indication that he would harm himself. He was carrying a knife in his pocket, but he said he did not have it out while he was talking with deputies. He also said he doesn't think it's right to use a Taser on someone who is not on ground level.
Cook is now suing the Sheriff's Office for the cost of future medical needs, loss of income and more, which amounts to at least $7 million.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court on Friday. It could be a year before it goes to court.