June 7 2016
“Bryce Masters, then 17, couldn’t break his fall. His arms were handcuffed behind his back and he was already in cardiac arrest from the Taser prongs embedded in his chest.
Only the quick work of paramedics and doctors kept Masters alive after the incident, which led to a former Independence officer’s federal conviction on a charge of violating the teen’s constitutional rights.
On Thursday, for the first time since that September 2014 encounter, Masters faced former officer Timothy Runnels and described the effects of the brain damage — caused by a lack of oxygen —he probably will contend with for the rest of his life.
“People tell me I’m different,” Masters said. “I feel different.”
Masters appeared in U.S. District Court in Kansas City during a sentencing hearing for Runnels.
After several hours of sometimes emotional testimony, District Judge Dean Whipple took the case under advisement and said he would announce a sentence Wednesday.
For Masters, every day since the incident has been a struggle, he told the judge.
He has lost many of his childhood memories, and his inability to focus and retain information has derailed his plans to attend college.
“I get in the car to go somewhere and then I’ll forget where I was going,” he said. “I’ve missed job interviews because I forgot them.”
He has trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep, and when he does, he often awakens from nightmares in cold sweat.
Each day is the same.
“I feel physically and mentally weak every day when I get out of bed,” he said.
His father, Matt Masters, who is a Kansas City police officer, also spoke Thursday.
“Bryce was clinically dead,” his father said. “We cried and prayed that God would bring him back to us.”
He described the agony of watching his son being kept alive by a ventilator in the hospital and the family being told by doctors that the boy would probably be a vegetable for the rest of his life.
“We’ve been in a continual state of sadness since that day,” Matt Masters said. “He wants his life back.”
Bryce Masters has lost most of the friends he once had, often becomes overwhelmed and withdraws.
Matt Masters said his once charming, curious and self-assured son is often irritable, frustrated and anxious.
“He looks fine. He looks normal. But he’s not,” Masters said.
The September 2014 incident at East Southside Boulevard and Main Street in Independence began when Runnels stopped a car driven by Bryce Masters because Runnels believed there was a warrant associated with the license plate.”
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