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Just hours after a jury awarded $10 million to North Carolina wrongful death victim, Darryl Turner, another Charlotte man died after being tasered by police.

Lorenzo Williams, who an acquaintance described as having a prior criminal history that included assault on a female, among other charges, was pronounced dead shortly after being tasered by police while he was in the process of beating a woman.

Although the police use of the taser against Williams appeared to be justified, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department has suspended the use of Tasers for up to 45 days. According to witnesses, Williams and a female companion exited the Lynx line at the Woodlawn station and were arguing. Williams was seen choking and beating the woman. It was during the assault that a CMPD officer fired his Taser at Williams.

Police did not release information regarding where Williams was tasered, but did state that the event was likely captured on video camera and they would be analyzing those films.

Taser.bmp The family of North Carolina wrongful death victim, Darryl Turner, was awarded $10 million after a jury found that there was a great risk of cardiac arrest if a taser was discharged into the chest area near the heart, that Taser International knew of the risk, and that Taser International failed to so warn its users.

In March, 2008, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police were summoned to the Food Lion where Turner was working in order to remove Turner from the premises. Turner, who hadn’t actually been charged with a crime, had thrown something at his employer, and was in possession of 3 bags of marijuana. Due to his “agitated” state, Turner was ultimately tased by the police. An autopsy found no evidence or pre-existing heart conditions, and that Turner died as the result of his excessive and irregular heart beat.

Turner’s family had already been paid $625,000 by the City of Charlotte, even though it denied it had done anything wrong, prior to the verdict. Following Turner’s death, all CMPD officers had to receive more training with the use of Tasers.

Speeding Semi TruckA pair of North Carolina tractor trailer accidents claimed several lives on June 30.

Thursday, June 30 was a deadly day on North Carolina’s highways. The first North Carolina truck accident occurred just before 10am on I85 in Orange County and actually involved 2 separate truck accidents. The first tractor trailer accident occurred when a tractor trailer was speeding along I85 south and lost control and flipped. As the result of that accident, traffic on I85 was backed up for nearly 1 mile. It was at the end of the traffic pile-up where the second, and ultimately fatal, accident occurred. Another tractor trailer traveling southbound on I85 did not slow for traffic and slammed into the rear of a tanker truck causing the tractor trailer truck to burst into flames. The driver of the tractor trailer truck was killed. The impact also caused the tanker truck to crash into 2 other vehicles, causing non-life threatening injuries.

The second fatal North Carolina truck crash of the day occurred on I40 and claimed 3 lives. Similar to the I85 wreck earlier in the day, this wreck occurred when traffic on I85 was heavy and moving at 5mph. A tractor-trailer truck traveling 65mph, caused a chain-reaction rear-end collision. The driver of the big rig, Ronald Graybeal, hit a pickup truck, a small SUV, and a passenger vehicle. The drivers of all 3 vehicles were killed. Graybeal also struck a box-truck, sending that driver to the hospital with serious injuries.

Graybeal has been charged with felony death by vehicle, misdemeanor death by vehicle, DWI, and possession of drugs paraphernalia. A judge has recently increased his bond to $1,00,000 and prosecutors are considering amending the charges to include second degree murder.

Both North Carolina truck accidents will likely result in wrongful death claims being filed on behalf of the victims who lost their lives, and victims of the second accident may also be entitled to punitive damages since Graybeal was driving while impaired.

Texting and DrivingWhether it is a text message, an email, or GPS, many drivers are guilty of “peeking” at their phones while driving.

What if I just read a text but don’t actually respond to it?
Most people likely know that it is illegal to “text” and drive, but may not know that the law also prohibits the reading of a text. The law makes it illegal to read any electronic mail or text message transmitted to or stored within the device while operating a motor vehicle. This makes “peeking” illegal, even though you might not actually be texting. Good thing for stops signs and red lights, at which you would be considered “lawfully stopped.”

Though not considered a moving violation for which license points can be assessed, the penalty is a $100 fine plus court costs.

Texting while driving considered more dangerous than drunk driving
Studies have found that reaction time in drivers who are texting decreased by 35%, compared with a 12% decrease in reaction time in drivers who had been drinking. Drivers who had been drinking are also more likely to be focused on driving carefully so that they don’t get caught, but texting driver will likely be concentrating more on the messaging than on the driving. The risk of crashing while texting increases by over 20 times when compared to a driver who is not texting, whereas the risk of crashing when a driver has consumed alcohol increased 7 times when compared to a driver that has not been drinking.

What is North Carolina doing about it?

Despite laws to the contrary, texting while driving remains problematic in North Carolina. For the moment, it is not illegal to talk on a cell phone, which makes enforcement difficult. Pending in the North Carolina General Assembly, however, are 3 nearly identical bills that will make it illegal to use anything but a hands-free device while driving, including the act of dialing even if the resulting conversation is hands-free.

Solution? Hang up and drive.

Marijuana LeafIf you are the victim of a North Carolina Car Accident that occurred at night, the chances that one of the drivers is under the influence of both legal and illegal drugs is increasing. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 16% of nighttime drivers were found to be under the influence of impairing drugs, both legal and illegal, and that half were high on marijuana. This is significantly higher than the daytime level.

With one-third of the states having laws legalizing marijuana (presumably for medical purposes), driving while stoned is a growing problem. There is no federal standard governing a permissible level of marijuana in the blood, and different state have either different standards for marijuana levels, or no standards at all. Further, scientists disagree on the level at which a person is impaired, and a regular medicinal marijuana user can have higher residual levels in their blood even days after their last drug use.

Compounding the problem is that short of a blood test, there is no definitive field test for marijuana. Technology for police officers to use a saliva swab is years away, and officers are left to rely on standard field tests for impairment.

Even the White House has acknowledged driving while high as a major factor in fatal accidents. The director of National Drug Control Policy in the White House calls marijuana a “significant and important contributing factor in a growing number of fatal accidents.” This appears to be true. In California, where medical marijuana use is legal, drug related fatal accidents increased 55% in a 10 year period.

Until a uniform standard for testing and a uniform level of illegality is adopted, law enforcement is left with using professional judgment to determine a drivers impairment.

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