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Man shot with Taser during traffic stop outside Vernal gets $40,000 settlement

SHARE Man shot with Taser during traffic stop outside Vernal gets $40,000 settlement

Jared Massey, the motorist who was shot with a Taser during a traffic arrest and who subsequently filed a lawsuit claiming the officer used excessive force, has accepted a settlement of $40,000.

Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Jon Gardner used a Taser on Massey on Sept. 4, 2007, during a traffic stop outside Vernal. Massey refused to sign a speeding ticket and argued with Gardner, who ordered Massey out of the car. After Massey did not comply with commands to put his hands behind his back, Gardner used a Taser on Massey.

An unhappy Massey posted the videotaped incident from the squad car's dash cam on YouTube, which prompted a huge outcry from the public. Some people even threatened violence against the trooper — which prompted Massey to issue a public statement calling for people to "have some common decency" and stop making threats.

The Department of Public Safety investigated the situation and cleared Gardner of any wrongdoing in handling an uncooperative motorist. He was, however, required to take a verbal communications course before returning to duty.

Massey pleaded guilty in Uintah County's Justice Court to a reduced speeding charge and paid a fine of $107.

However, Massey later filed a federal lawsuit claiming Gardner had used excessive force against him.

"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," Assistant Attorney General Scott Cheney, who represented Gardner, said in a statement.

"We recognize, however, that this is a close case," Cheney said.

The decision to settle was made by the Utah Attorney General's Office, the Utah Highway Patrol and the Utah Risk Management Fund, all of which agreed that this was the "best compromise to protect taxpayer resources."

"This settlement was the most efficient resolution of what would be lengthy and expensive litigation of a strongly disputed claim," Cheney said.

Massey was unavailable for comment Monday.

E-mail: lindat@desnews.com