Northern Illinois man awarded $50,000 in excessive force case

ROCKFORD - A northern Illinois man has been awarded $50,000 after a federal jury decided that excessive force was used against him during a 2009 arrest in Lee County.

According to authorities, police received a phone call about a suicidal man, and Deputy Andrew Tarr and his former partner, William Roberts, were dispatched to perform a welfare check.

The officers said that when they arrived at Wilson Burnell's home, he tried to barricade himself inside.  The officers also say that Burnell took Tarr's pepper spray and tried to take Roberts' stun gun.

Roberts used his stun gun on Burnell five times, and Tarr hit Burnell in the head with a metal flashlight.  Both officers faced claims of excessive force after the incident, and Roberts was found not liable.

However, a federal jury determined that Tarr did use excessive force against Burnell.  Burnell will receive $10,000 in damages, and approximately $40,000 in attorney's fees.

Both officers are still employed at the Lee County Sheriff's Department.
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