PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A woman says a Taser was repeatedly used on her while inside the Allegheny County Jail and she says she has not been the same since.
She has now filed a lawsuit and is waiting for action.
Rachel Neil of Shadyside was once a vibrant, energetic, fearless young woman. But today – most of the time she is afraid to leave her home – affected by post-traumatic stress disorder.
Not from a tour of duty, but from spending 15 hours in the Allegheny County Jail back in January of 2011.
“My hands were still behind my back and cuffed, handcuffed and a Taser was behind my ear, my right ear and pepper spray was being sprayed,” Neil said.
Neil was arrested for what her lawsuit against county jail guards describes as summary offenses. She doesn’t really challenge the arrest. It’s what happened to her at the jail that prompted her to sue.
“I said this hurts, this really hurts,” Neil said. “Those are the last words I said and then I hit the pavement.”
Neil says she was tased repeatedly for being “non-compliant” and sprayed with pepper spray inside the jail.
Several pictures were taken immediately after her release from a local hospital showing a black eye, marks from the tasing and a temporary loss of hearing from what was described as dry-tasing while in custody at the jail.
“I’m covered in my own urine,” she describes. “I’m face down. I didn’t have a chance even if I had been fighting them.”
“Every time I thought it was going to stop, it would restart,” she continued. “And if that wasn’t bad enough, I have a second Taser in me.”
When she came out, she seemed stunned and she walked unsteadily.
Dr. Susan Staffer, is not only an emergency room doctor, but also Neil’s mother. As soon as she saw her daughter upon her release, she knew something had happened to Neil while she was at the jail.
“The first think I noticed was her eye,” Staffer sad. “It was bruised, and she said, ‘I can’t hear out of my left ear.’”
Neil is suing the guards – as yet un-named- she says are responsible for what happened to her.
The county and the former warden have been dismissed from the lawsuit. But Neil says the 15 hours she spent at the county jail changed her life. And she wants to see try to stop it from happening again.
“No one should be treated like that in this country,” Neil said. “No one should be treated like that by jailers.”
“I didn’t understand why I was being hurt,” she said. “ … I thought I was going to be killed.”
The physical scars are all gone, but the emotional scars remain.
The county hasn’t commented on the pending litigation.