Attorney Bill Goodman still ticking, but ticked off

Noted Detroit attorney William Goodman had a distinctly Mark Twain moment when he learned that a front-page story in the Sunday edition of The Macomb Daily contained what could charitably be called a slight inaccuracy.

Goodman and his firm are representing the estate of a Detroit teen who died after being Tasered in the chest by a Warren cop in 2009. That fact was noted in the paper’s story about the Warren PD’s decision to stop using the devices known as stun guns, which deliver a 50,000-volt jolt of electricity.

But instead of providing a description of how a supposedly nonlethal device proved to be deadly to 16-year-old Robert Mitchell, the story announced:

Attorney William Goodman died of  "cardiac arrhythmia induced by (a thin heart wall)" with the "use of an electrical delivery device a contributing factor."

“Can I say that reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated?” asked Goodman, chuckling as he referenced the quote Twain used when his demise was prematurely announced.

Although Goodman got a laugh over the inadvertent announcement that he’d been dispatched to the great beyond, he and law partner Julie Hurwitz weren’t getting any giggles out of the story as a whole.

“The article was atrocious,” Hurwitz told us.

For starters, the piece by Norb Franz apparently took at face value the Warren PD’s account of circumstances surrounding the death of Mitchell in April 2009. Warren cops claimed that Mitchell had broken free of an officer’s grip and was apparently trying to escape when he was Tasered.

That, at best, is a matter of dispute in the lawsuit. Attorney Hurwitz told us that Detroit police officers were also at the scene, and one of them reported that the victim was being held by two officers and posed no threat at the time he was squarely hit in the chest by the two prongs fired from the Taser. Mitchell is one of two people to die as the result of Taser shocks from Warren cops in just over three years.

The main thrust of the article was that, with a number of Tasers exceeding their roughly five-year lifespan, the Warren PD had decided to discontinue their use because it can’t afford to purchase new ones.

At least that was what the city claimed. What has Goodman and Hurwitz ticked off isn’t so much The Macomb Daily ’s reporting (false death notice and all aside) but rather the “adamant” insistence on the part of the city that the deaths, as well as associated litigation — including a claim of gross negligence the city has filed against the company that manufactures Tasers — have nothing at all to do with the decision to stop using the devices.


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