Las Vegas, NV — As TFTP reported at the time, graphic body camera video showed a Las Vegas Police Officer shoot a naked man in the back outside of a church. Police say they were left with no other options after their K9 attacked an officer instead of the naked man. Now, thanks to their excessive violence, the taxpayers of Las Vegas will be shelling out $525,000.
Funke’s lawyer, Jason Newvill confirmed a Nov. 3 agreement and U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware II’s finding in June that Officer Mark Hatten “unlawfully used excessive force against Funke” when he shot the then-25-year-old in August 2017, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
Highlighting the problem of repeat offender cops is the fact that Hatten was at the center of another $500,000 settlement in 2018 with the mother of a 44-year-old man who died after Hatten shocked him with an electronic stun gun 10 times for more than 90 seconds during a struggle after a traffic stop.
According to police, on the day he was shot in the back, 25-year-old Jason David Funke was threatening to kill himself in front of Life Springs Christian Church in 2017. Funke was armed, however, according to police, he complied with officer commands to drop his gun, raise his hands, and walk toward police.
As he was complying, Funke did as he was instructed and walked toward a group of officers — naked with his hands up. When Funke got within ten feet of the officers, instead of walking up to the clearly unarmed and surrendering man, police attempted to sic the K9 on him.
Instead of immediately going after Funke, however, the dog bit the officer’s belt which appeared to startle Funke, causing him to turn and run instead of getting on the ground like officers were demanding.
At this point, Hatten fired one round with a rifle into the back of Funke, dropping him immediately. Funke was over 20 feet from the gun.
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Todd Fasulo explained to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that dogs go through intense training around loud noises, but the animals can be unpredictable. In this case, the dog was distracted by the officer, who was closer than Funke, Fasulo said.
Why a dog was used on a naked, surrendering, unarmed man is unclear. Had officers simply walked up to Funke and either thrown him to the ground, placed him in cuffs, or even ran over to the gun to pick it up, the shooting could’ve possibly been prevented.
“It’s just mind-blowing how incompetent and unprepared these folks were for handling a mental health crisis,” said Newville, Funke’s attorney. “And how they nearly killed a man who threatened no one but himself.”
From the time Funke dropped the gun and surrendered, to the time the officer shot him was over 90 seconds. Police had a minute and a half to move in and take down the unarmed naked man. However, that didn’t happen and the use of deadly force was deployed.
“It is undisputed that Funke had not directly or verbally threatened anyone with the gun, and that he committed no serious crime,” Boulware wrote. “He had not raised the weapon toward others or himself.”
At the time, Fasulo said Funke had no criminal history and has faced issues with depression and suicidal thoughts in the past. Funke’s family said they are glad that they don’t have to go through a trial, but pointed out that this lawsuit does nothing to stop cops from doing this again.
“But there’s no ramifications with that,” Theresa Funke, Jason’s mother said. “Other than it being case law for the next person who goes through this, God forbid.”