- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Pierre officials want a judge to dismiss a federal lawsuit alleging that a police officer used excessive force by using a stun gun on an 8-year-old girl.

In its response to the lawsuit, the city argues that it, its former police chief and four officers are immune from being sued because they were acting in their capacity as government workers. It also denies that police used excessive force.

Authorities say the officer shot the girl with the stun gun from 5 or 6 feet away last October because she was suicidal and brandished a knife. The state Division of Criminal Investigation later concluded that the officer was justified in using his stun gun on the girl because it was the safest way to defuse the situation.

The girl’s mother, Dawn Stenstrom, is seeking unspecified damages for what she alleges is a violation of her daughter’s rights. She filed the lawsuit in July and the city filed its response last week.

In its response, the city doesn’t deny that the incident occurred. It says one officer used the stun gun on the girl, “permitting the officers present to disarm her, prevent her from doing harm to herself and diffuse the situation.” The defendants reject Stenstrom’s assertions that “the force of the electricity shot through (the girl’s) body, lifted her, and threw her against the wall.”

The lawsuit lists the girl’s weight as 70 pounds. One of Stenstrom’s attorneys, Dana Hanna, has said the girl suffered physical, psychological and emotional injuries.

The mother and child now live on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.

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