- Associated Press - Monday, June 22, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A woman whose husband died during an arrest two years ago has filed a federal lawsuit against two law enforcement agencies, alleging police used excessive force on a man who shouldn’t have been on the streets in the first place.

The wrongful death complaint filed in Eugene says Gregory Price, 56, was mentally unstable when Douglas County Sheriff’s Office released him from jail June 22, 2013. Hours later, he died after Roseburg police responding to call about Price’s erratic behavior deployed stun guns and pepper spray while trying to subdue him.

The Roseburg city manager and a sheriff’s office spokesman did not immediately return messages seeking comment Monday.

According to the lawsuit, Price was a military veteran with bipolar disorder and a heart condition. The Sublimity resident got into a domestic dispute with his wife, Laurel Price, while at Diamond Lake Resort in southwest Oregon, prompting sheriff’s deputies to respond.

Laurel Price told sheriff’s deputies her husband was in a manic state, the lawsuit says, and wanted him taken to the state mental hospital in Salem. Instead, he was brought to the county jail in Roseburg at 2 a.m.

“During this time period, Gregory Allen Price was behaving strangely and Laurel Ann Price requested that deputies administer him medication,” attorney J. Randolph Pickett wrote in the lawsuit that doesn’t seek a specific amount of money for damages.

“Mrs. Price also requested that she be contacted upon Gregory Allen Price’s release, so she could pick him up make sure he stayed safe.”

The lawsuit alleges a jail nurse, Tiffany Lee, was concerned about releasing Price because he could be a danger to himself or others. But he was let go at 9 a.m., and his wife wasn’t notified.

At 3 p.m., Roseburg police got a call that Price was acting erratically near the courthouse. Two officers deployed stun guns when he ignored police commands.

“Although Gregory Allen Price would initially comply with the officers’ orders, he would start rolling on the ground, resulting in approximately eleven Taser shocks delivered in drive-stun mode,” the lawsuit states.

Price stopped breathing after he was handcuffed. Officers began CPR, but couldn’t save him.

A Douglas County grand jury ruled in 2013 that the officers were legally justified in their use of force. The lawsuit, however, alleges they discharged Tasers without justification against a suspect who was medically fragile and already incapacitated.

Besides the law enforcement agencies, the lawsuit lists the officers as defendants and Taser International Inc.


Follow Steven DuBois at twitter.com/pdxdub

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