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Family of Latino man killed by stun gun suing Connecticut police officers

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2004 file photo, an officer holds a stun gun used by his police department in a Farmington, Conn. Police across Connecticut disproportionately fired stun guns at blacks and Hispanics in 2015 while whites were the main beneficiaries when officers only threatened to use the weapons, according to preliminary data from the nations first accounting by a state of law enforcement stun gun use. State officials cautioned against making quick conclusions about the figures, saying they have just begun to analyze them after the Jan. 15, 2016 deadline for police departments to submit the reports. Civil liberties advocates also said the data appear to show racial disparities on the surface, but more analysis is needed.  (AP Photo/Bob Child, File)

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2004 file photo, an officer holds a stun gun used by his police department in a Farmington, Conn. Police across Connecticut disproportionately fired stun guns at blacks and Hispanics in 2015 while whites were the main beneficiaries when officers only threatened to use the weapons, according to preliminary data from the nations first accounting by a state of law enforcement stun gun use. State officials cautioned against making quick conclusions about the figures, saying they have just begun to analyze them after the Jan. 15, 2016 deadline for police departments to submit the reports. Civil liberties advocates also said the data appear to show racial disparities on the surface, but more analysis is needed. (AP Photo/Bob Child, File)

A federal lawsuit alleges that police officers in Connecticut racially discriminated and used excessive force against a Latino killed who died in custody after being shocked with a stun gun for more than 20 seconds.

The lawsuit also says the death is part of a pattern of deadly police violence against blacks and Hispanics nationwide. It seeks at least $15 million in damages.

The brother of the man, Jose Maldonado, filed the lawsuit Feb. 2 saying that East Hartford officers violated Maldonado's constitutional rights and used force that killed him in April 2014.

East Hartford police officials did not immediately return messages seeking comment Wednesday. The lawsuit was first reported by the Journal Inquirer.

Police previously said Maldonado became combative at the police department after being arrested for punching out a car window while intoxicated during a dispute with other people. The lawsuit alleges officers beat Maldonado in a jail cell and shot him with a stun gun in the chest.

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Maldonado, 22, was pronounced dead at a hospital less than an hour later. The medical examiner's office determined he died of "cardiac arrhythmia following precordial electric shock and blunt injury to the head" and ruled his death a homicide.

State police are investigating Maldonado's death and haven't charged anyone.

The lawsuit names officers Jason Kaplan and Jason Cohen, Sgt. James Lis, Chief Scott Sansom and the town of East Hartford. Kaplan fired the stun gun at Maldonado, the lawsuit says.

Messages seeking comment were left for Kaplan, Cohen, Lis and Sansom on Wednesday.

The lawsuit says 11 of the 17 people who died since 2005 after police in Connecticut shot them with stun guns were black or Hispanic.

Last year, Connecticut became the first state to require all police departments to fill out detailed reports for every time officers fired, or threatened to fire, their stun guns. Data from 2015 show Connecticut officers who pulled out their stun guns fired them 60 percent of the time in confrontations involving whites, 80 percent of the time in those involving blacks and 69 percent of the time in those involving Hispanics.

State and police officials warned against making any conclusions about the data until a full analysis is completed within the coming weeks.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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