Lawmaker refiles bill to pay $1.75M to family of woman who died after trooper tased her
Image via FHP.

Cole Maudsley Dashcam
A dashboard camera captured the entire incident.

For eight years, state lawmakers have tried to compensate the family of a Pinellas County woman who suffered critical injuries and later died after a state trooper shot her with a stun gun.

Miami Gardens Sen. Shevrin Jones has championed the cause since 2021. He’s doing so again for the 2024 Legislative Session.

Jones this month filed SB 4, which would authorize payment of $1.75 million to the estate of Danielle Maudsley, the woman in question.

The bill is classified as a claims bill or “relief act,” as it is intended to compensate a person or entity for injury or loss caused by the negligence or error of a public officer or agency.

Claims bills arise when appropriate damages exceed what is allowable under Florida’s sovereign immunity laws, which protect government agencies from costly lawsuits.

Maudsley was 20 on Sept. 19, 2011, when Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) Trooper Daniel Cole took her into custody on suspicion of being involved in a hit-and-run case. Just before noon, as Cole processed her arrest at a substation in Pinellas Park, Maudsley attempted to flee through a side door of the building.

Dashboard camera footage shows Maudsley, handcuffed in the front, dashing out into a parking lot as Cole followed mere feet behind her. Cole can be seen firing a taser into her back, causing Maudsley to fall.

As she collapses from the electrical shock transmitted through the taser probes, Maudsley spins so the back of her head slams on the pavement. Cole and two other officers then stand around her as she lays on the ground crying and writhing in pain before one retrieves a first-aid kit from his vehicle.

“What were you thinking? What are you, stupid?” Cole can be heard asking Maudsley, who appears to be about three times smaller than him.

“That’s just another charge,” one of the other officers can be heard saying.

Cole then tells Maudsley, who repeatedly but unsuccessfully tries to sit up, to remain on the ground.

“I can’t get up,” she says.

“You hit your head pretty good on the concrete,” he says. “Stay there. Don’t get up.”

Maudsley suffered “extensive traumatic brain injury” from the fall, Jones’ bill says. She remained in a constant, vegetative state until her death two years later on Sept. 15, 2013, at a Fort Lauderdale rehabilitation center.

Prior to her death, investigations by FHP and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles determined Cole’s use of force was justified.

A blood test of Maudsley revealed cocaine and oxycodone in her system on the day of the incident.

Her mother, Cheryl Maudsley, sued and in May 2015 reached a settlement agreement with FHP and Cole, who “acknowledged that, if the case had gone to trial (that) a jury could reasonably have awarded damages in the amount of $1.95 million.”

Florida’s sovereign immunity protections cap government agency payouts at $200,000 per person and $300,000 per incident. Legislative action is necessary for payments beyond those sums.

As such, Maudsley’s estate received $200,000, with $1.75 million outstanding.

SB 4 would deliver the remainder by directing Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis to transfer the money — minus what is required to satisfy outstanding Medicaid liens related to Maudsley’s care — from the state General Revenue Fund to her family, represented by Julie Goddard of Tampa.

Attorney fees related to the settlement may not exceed $437,500, or 25% of the $1.75 million sought.

Maudsley before the incident. Image via Twitter.

Jones carried near-identical claims bills on behalf of Maudsley’s family during the 2022 and 2023 Legislative Sessions. In both years, no member of the House filed a companion bill and Jones’ measure died without a single hearing.

Before Jones, former Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson advocated for Maudsley’s estate, filing bills in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 to diminishing returns. In the first two years, her bills cleared two of three committees to which they were referred before stalling in the Senate Appropriations Committee. In 2019 and 2020, however, they died without any committee consideration.

Former Republican Sen. Joe Negron was the first to file the measure in late July 2015, less than two months after the court case ended. Like Gibson’s first two bills, it too died in Appropriations.

“Passing this bill is just the right thing to do,” Jones told Florida Politics. “Portions of it have been paid out already. But we can do what’s right here so these individuals can allow this to rest. My hope is to make the case this Session as to why this is important, and hopefully the Legislature will see it that way.”

Just over a year after he tased Maudsley, Cole shot the owner of a Pinellas Park cemetery while looking for a stolen motorcycle he believed to be on site.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement report found Cole was justified in opening fire on the man, Clifford Work. In November 2013, Work sued Cole, who had also been cleared in another investigation related to a 2001 shooting of an unarmed Christian minister who ignored commands to show his hands during a traffic stop.

In January 2019, Cole received “Trooper of the Month” recognition for his handling of a motorcycle crash on Park Boulevard in Pinellas that month. Cole quickly responded to the accident, calling emergency medical services and applying tourniquets to the victims’ legs that ultimately saved the person’s life.

It marked the third time Cole earned the honors.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    August 9, 2023 at 6:12 pm

    If you’re feeling like a handcuffed little girl running through the parking lot is just too much work, push the “easy” button. It’s easy!

    Very unfortunate how it’s usually not the lazy person that gets killed when police are shiftless, lazy Magas.

Comments are closed.


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