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Alameda County settles stun-gun suit

Dec. 20, 2012 at 2:24 PM

CASTRO VALLEY, Calif., Dec. 20 (UPI) -- California's Alameda County has agreed to pay $160,000 to settle a lawsuit over sheriff's deputies allegedly using a stun-gun on a disabled woman.

Sapreena Fowler, 18, filed the lawsuit, alleging she was forcibly restrained during a confrontation Feb. 8, 2011, at Redwood Place, a Castro Valley in-patient mental health center, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Deputies Misty Johnson and Rosario Robson reported that they witnessed Fowler "being aggressive and combative with staff members." She spat on them and tried to fight them, the deputies wrote.

Robson used her stun gun twice to shock Fowler.

Fowler, who has the mental capacity of a 4-year-old, was arrested and charged with resisting an officer and battery against a law-enforcement officer after the incident at Redwood Place. She spent two nights in jail; the charges were later dropped.

Julia Sherwin, Fowler's attorney, said the settlement money will be placed in a special trust for Fowler.

"Deputies Robson and Johnson ignored their training and abused this vulnerable young woman when she most needed help," Sherwin said.

Also as part of the settlement, the sheriff's office agreed to amended its protocol for deputies responding to the Redwood Place, reminding them to speak quietly to those who are mentally ill or developmentally disabled and to "give them time to calm down," Sherwin said.

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