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Court Restricts Police Use of Tasers to Immediate Threats

Court Restricts Police Use of Tasers to Immediate Threats

The USA Today via YellowBrix

December 29, 2009

Police who use stun guns must first believe their target represents an immediate threat, not simply acts erratically or refuses to obey orders, a federal court has ruled.

The San Francisco Chronicle says that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ 3-0 ruling “sets judicial standards for police and for people hit by a Taser who claim they were victims of excessive force.”

“The objective facts must indicate that the suspect poses an immediate threat to the officer or a member of the public,” Judge Kim Wardlaw writes.

Taser Resources on PoliceLink

Wardlaw noted that Tasers may offer a valuable, nonlethal alternative to using deadly force, but still inflict a “painful and frightening blow” and must be used only when substantial force is needed and other options are unavailable.

Amnesty International USA reports that at least 351 people have died in the United States since June 2001 after being hit by police Tasers.

The case involves a suit against Coronado, Calif., police officer Bryan McPherson by 21-year-old Carl Bryan, who was Tasered after being stopped for a minor traffic office.

The court noted that Bryan was clearly unarmed and did not challenge the officer or make any menacing gestures.

Bryan fell on his face and broke four front teeth after he was hit by a Taser. He also had to go to the hospital to have the electronic dart surgically removed.

The court says that a “reasonable police officer” with McPherson’s training “would have foreseen these physical injuries when confronting a shirtless individual standing on asphalt.”

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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    I wonder how many people, especially lawyers and judges, think hard enough to know that Police are not all-knowing. Perps don't give you a medical/psychological history on the spot when you pull them over, they don't have tattoos advertising their health condition/problems. People need to sit back and think, and remember that 1: if a Police Officer is talking to you, chances are you're in the wrong; 2: you'd better damn well cooperate, because it's in your best interest, and 3: no, the Officer does not know you have a heart condition that would cause a normally less-than-lethal tool like a Taser to inflict massive permanent harm. I'm willing to bet that almost none of the people decrying LEOs use of the Taser have EVER worn a uniform.

  • Sfa_iv_max50

    revCCBeasley

    over 4 years ago

    2944 Comments

    I agree Hardcopy69

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    Kinda defeats the idea behind the tool now doesn't it?

  • Swat_guy_transition_max50

    Swatdog381

    over 4 years ago

    160 Comments

    I'm a reasonable person and if warranted, I would have tased "a shirtless individual standing on pavement". Oh wait…..I have. ARE YOU KINDING ME. THESE JUDGES ARE ROGUE.

  • 2002_chevy_toolbox_090_max50

    Hardcopy69

    over 4 years ago

    6082 Comments

    Well the 9th Circuit is got some issues over there. All of law enfocement knows that is the most liberal court in the country. Not surprising at all...... Guess they do not look at how many people were not killed by police with lead since the inception of tasers. How about let's start holding the "turds" accounable for fighting the police in the first place. Or how about citizens of this country instill some morals in the kids now days so there are not as many of these problems! It's all how you look at it.

  • Big_4182036_max50

    salsa3208

    over 4 years ago

    108 Comments

    I couldnt imagine this in my county where we are six delputies on for 1200 square miles. Backup, RIGHT. Where a simple " NON COMPLIANT" person can be a big deal, we all know what comes next. hands on, and thats when your gonna be faced with physically fighting with whatever tard your dealing with. Then what? We all know. More and more officers are loosing their lives everday. Its definately true that articulation is a must, but its hard when the judicial system where you work doesnt back you. Be safe everyone :)

  • 36683974_1__max50

    rlockman01

    over 4 years ago

    28 Comments

    Should have known it's Calif. court, let them try our job

  • Fallenherobadge-3-1_max160_max50

    barnes97

    over 4 years ago

    216 Comments

    I wonder how many people have died since 2001 that have fought with the police without the benefit of tasers? The critics love to throw out how many people have died (most from drug-induced Excited Delirium), but never truly compare apples to apples in their report. I know that if Tasers are not allowed to subdue a subject, the injury rates for both criminal and officer will go up. Law enforcement is not a pretty job...people sometimes die...there should be a cost to fighting with the police...maybe not death, but I have not read anything that would lead me to believe that the Taser was responsible for these deaths. The Taser may have been a contributing factor, but it was the poor decisions made by the criminal that caused his death.

  • 74596_129289523905506_927477597_n_max50

    CadetAK

    over 4 years ago

    3428 Comments

    I stopped when I read the "San Fran Chronicle reported...". ..enough said!

  • 005_max50

    cbrewster3

    over 4 years ago

    194 Comments

    Wow, okay then this isn't right! Glad I'm not in California/ San Fransico!! Guess that means they have to be taken down physically then... that means 1) more possibility for a more serious injury to the suspect, and 2) more risk for the officer.... people in the courts/ government are not thinking before they do this stuff!!

  • 000_0053_max50

    fergsnva

    over 4 years ago

    110 Comments

    If you have to wait for your TOAD to become an immediate threat, why would you even waste your time with the Tazer? I'm glad I don't live in the People's Republic of California or within the grasps of the nutjobs on the Federal 9th Circuit.

  • 12235_sq90_max50

    chiefkcr

    over 4 years ago

    3620 Comments

    Another let down from our courts to the LEOs who keep them safe.

  • Tn_max50

    HCSO531

    over 4 years ago

    248 Comments

    Someone needs to invite the 9th Circuit to PL so they can read every day how another LEO dies. OH SHIT but wait they still wouldnt care...

  • Tn_max50

    HCSO531

    over 4 years ago

    248 Comments

    This is why the people who are trying to make it harder to do our jobs do what they do because they couldn't and wouldn't make it on the streets as a COP

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    So many people wringing their hands and so upset that their power has been reeled in. And so many simply responding with comments that if said to them might cause them to want to use their tasers. Unless you were hiding under a rock you have to acknowledge some misuse of the taser. Some of that misuse includes Officers using it on people who commit the crime of "Contempt of Officer". We can all be sure this wont be the only court case simply setting guidelines for the use of a great option. Be reasonable, justify your actions, and dont use a taser just because.

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