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Hooper Bay Taser decision appealed to Alaska Supreme Court

Suzanna Caldwell

Lawyers representing a man who was tased 15-18 times have appealed a state Superior Court decision overturning a jury verdict that awarded the man $500,000.

The law firm of Power and Brown appealed the case of Thomas “Boya” Olson vs. the city of Hooper Bay on Oct. 10. Lawyers are appealing the ruling on 11 different points.

Repeated throughout the appeal are questions concerning qualified immunity, the complicated legal term that shields police and other government officials from prosecution so long as their actions are not in violation of established law.

The case stems from a 2006 incident in which Olson was awakened by officers in the early morning and resisted arrest as officers tried to do a welfare check. During the confrontation officers tased Olson 15 to 18 times, leaving the Hooper Bay man with scars. Taser International, maker of the electroshock weapon, noted that overuse can lead to heart failure.

This is the second time the case has found its way to the state Supreme Court. In 2011, the court rejected Judge Leonard Devaney's original decision clearing Hooper Bay police officers of any wrongdoing. The case went to a jury, which found the officer's had used excessive force and awarded $500,000 to Olson.

Don't expect a decision anytime soon. Olson's lawyer, Michele Power, said it could be years before the court rules on the case.