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Speeder Tasered by trooper on YouTube video gets $40,000 from state (with video)

Published March 11, 2008 1:38 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Vernal man shocked twice with a Taser during a traffic stop last year has accepted a $40,000 settlement in a lawsuit filed against the state and a Utah Highway Patrol trooper.

The Utah Attorney General's Office announced the settlement between Jared Massey and UHP trooper Jon Gardner on Monday.

"We think this is a legally defensible case because Trooper Gardner acted reasonably to avert a volatile and potentially dangerous confrontation on the side of a busy highway," said Assistant Attorney General Scott Cheney, who represented Gardner. "We recognize, however, that this is a close case."

The settlement comes on the heels of a decision by Tooele County prosecutors earlier this month that determined Gardner's actions were not criminal. An internal UHP investigation also cleared the trooper.

Video of the trooper zapping Massey, taken by the trooper's dashboard camera, came to prominence after Massey posted it on the Internet site YouTube. Since it was posted last year, it has been viewed more than 1.7 million times.

Massey's attorney, Bob Sykes, said Monday the offer to settle the case was not the state's first and that his client decided to take it.

Massey filed a lawsuit against Gardner in January alleging the trooper violated his civil rights when he zapped him during a traffic stop Sept. 14, 2007, on Highway 40 in Uintah County. He was stopped for driving 61 mph in a 40 mph zone.

During the stop, Massey argued with Gardner about his speed and then refused to sign the citation. Massey then got out of his car and followed Gardner to his police car where he was asked to place his hands behind his back. When Massey refused, Gardner shocked him.

The suit said Massey fell screaming in pain after being shocked while Gardner taunted him by saying, "Hurts, doesn't it?" Massey struck his head against the pavement and was zapped a second time because he was unable to immediately obey an order to turn over on his stomach, according to the suit.

"We thought the amount of force used was outrageous," Sykes said Monday.

The settlement amount includes attorneys' fees. The Attorney General's Office says Massey has agreed to dismiss his lawsuit, all claims against Gardner and all potential claims against UHP, the Utah Department of Public Safety and the state.

jbergreen@sltrib.com