Family of man tased near Oz Fitness files $100 million claim



Posted on June 10, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 10 at 6:08 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- The family of Will Berger has filed a claim for damages against the Spokane County Sheriff's Office for $100 million, KREM 2 News learned Tuesday.

Spokane County deputies tased and struggled with William Berger in June of 2013 outside Oz Fitness on the South Hill. He later died from his injuries.

MORE: Report reveals exchange during deputy-involved death

Witnesses said Berger went berserk inside the gym. He was reportedly lifting weights when he dropped one.  He yelled at the weight, started punching equipment, and punched a hole in the wall, according to witnesses at Oz Fitness. They said the man threw a towel dispenser and cursed at other customers.

According to witnesses, Berger tried to attack one of the deputies who responded to the scene with the deputy’s own taser. Berger was tased and pronounced brain dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Berger's family claimed he battled mental illness and had three manic episodes in his life that required medication.

Berger’s father, Bill Berger, said he wanted what happened to his son to spark change in the mental health system.

MORE: Family of man tased near Oz Fitness wants change in mental health system

The attorney representing the Berger family said the $100 million claim covered the family’s pain and suffering.

 “I think the question we need to ask the legislature is ‘give us a number, how many need to die because you won't act?’” said Bill Berger.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said the county has crisis intervention training.

The Berger family, however, wants the legislature to require more from law enforcement agencies.
“The day that Will was pronounced brain dead, I needed two things, I needed justice and I needed change, I'm not getting justice but I am going to make sure we get change,” said Bill Berger.