Cincinnati. August 11, 2014. Today the family of Gary Roell, Sr. filed a federal civil rights and wrongful death suit alleging that Hamilton County deputies unreasonably tased and fought with Mr. Roell, who suffered from mental illness and was experiencing a mental health emergency when he died. At the time of the tasing Mr. Roell was not armed. He was making incoherent statements. He was naked from the waist down and holding a flower basket and a garden hose.
Family attorney, Al Gerhardstein, stated that “We have thoroughly investigated this case. Gary’s death is truly tragic. Sheriff Neil has made progress on taser policies since taking office but it all came too late for Mr. Roell.” The lawsuit further alleges that the defendant deputies were not properly trained and supervised on handling encounters with mentally ill citizens. Gerhardstein noted that police use of force on mentally ill citizens was of particular interest to Mr. Roell, who in 1997 joined others to protest after a mentally ill citizen, Mr. Lorenzo Collins, was killed as a result of the excessive force by law enforcement officers.
The family seeks compensation for Mr. Roell’s widow and his six adult children and they hope the lawsuit will help spur additional reforms regarding mental health and taser policies, training, and supervision in Hamilton County.
Jaci Gonzales Martin of Gerhardstein & Branch is co-counsel on the lawsuit. In October 2012 the law firm issued a white paper that reviewed Taser policies in 47 Hamilton County law enforcement agencies. Sheriff Neil did not take office until January 2013. He has upgraded policies since taking office but much “more work remains to be done” according to Ms. Martin
Contact Al Gerhardstein: (513) 659-4765