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Deputy Suspended for Tasering Students at Their Request

Deputy Suspended for Tasering Students at Their Request

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The Denver Post via YellowBrix

April 09, 2010

DENVER – A Lake County sheriff’s deputy used a Taser on about 30 high school students Thursday morning during a career fair on the playground of Lake County High School in Leadville.

The Taser — a nonlethal weapon that administers an electric shock — was applied to the students’ legs, and some suffered burns of varying degrees. At least one student was treated for burns at the St. Vincent General Hospital emergency room in Leadville.

The hospital refused to comment on the number of students treated or the severity of the injuries.

Deputy John Ortega, who has been with the department since August 2008, was immediately suspended for one week without pay, Sheriff Ed Holte said.

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert dispatched investigators to the school to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.

School principal Cathy Beck said the students were offered the chance to be Tasered.

“We (the administration) had no idea this was going on,” Beck said. “This is very unfortunate. I’m sorry the sheriff’s office thought that it was appropriate. We don’t think it was appropriate.”

The school, which has about 300 students in grades 9-12, sent a letter home with each student asking parents to check their children and report if any had been Tasered, and to seek treatment if they had.

Beck said she has the names of 30 students who were Tasered. “I’m hoping it’s not more,” she said. “I’m not sure where we’re going with this. We’re leaving it up to the district attorney’s office.”

Holte said students asked Ortega whether he would use the Taser on them, but he declined. But then the students told Ortega they were willing to sign release forms and Ortega “foolishly agreed,” Holte said. The video on Ortega’s Taser showed 19 students being stunned.

Holte said Ortega used a “drive-stun technique” on the students.

Tasers normally fire two small darts attached to thin wires anchored to the gun. As the darts penetrate the skin, a powerful electric shock is emitted. Holte said the drive-stun technique eliminates the wires and projectiles, allowing the gun to operate like a stun gun. When the gun is touched to a person’s skin, a painful shock is felt, he said.

“It gives a pain reflex for about a second. People can move after being shocked,” Holte said. “Once you feel it, you certainly don’t want it to happen again.”

He added that the drive-stun technique is typically used at close range to subdue a suspect.

Both principal Beck and town spokeswoman Betty Benson said they were unaware of any release forms signed by the students. Benson said nothing of the sort was turned over to DA’s investigators.

Leadville Mayor Bud Elliott, who has been at odds with Holte over how emergency services should be handled in the mountain and mining community, said, “This is just another incident that shows our sheriff doesn’t have the necessary leadership or management skills to run the department.”

“This behavior jeopardizes the safety and welfare of the community,” Elliott said.


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Moneysmiley

    almost 4 years ago

    14 Comments

    Geez.....

  • Masonb2_max50

    masonlee89

    almost 5 years ago

    60 Comments

    not smart. minors can't even legally sign a release-form for a zoo field trip.

  • Evil_max50

    Scurge

    about 4 years ago

    1234 Comments

    CEM = Using a dept issued Taser at the request of a juvenile on said juvenile, well 30 of them.

    (CEM-Career Ending Move)

  • Pug_max600_max50

    DALLASCRANE

    about 4 years ago

    19386 Comments

    Better to THINK before you act, than to STINK after you act.

  • Mandy_and_me_max50

    FCPD0341

    about 4 years ago

    792 Comments

    Stupid rookie

  • Radio2_max50

    FireDad

    about 4 years ago

    7352 Comments

    Not very smart...

    I agree with you HEYSARGE.. THINK BEFORE YOU ACT...

  • Police_link_badge_max50

    HEYSARGE

    about 4 years ago

    16734 Comments

    Stupid................And this is not the firt time that something like this has happened. THINK BEFORE YOU ACT !! I bet the deputy didn't go home and shoot his wife and kids, with or without a signed consent!

  • Uniform_max50

    erosson27

    about 4 years ago

    442 Comments

    police equipment are not toys.

  • Snoopy_6_max50

    Jonas

    about 4 years ago

    41198 Comments

    Yeah but they wanted it. Right!!!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    lol, they could not give consent even if they wanted to. They would of liked the oc treatment better.

  • Th_detective_max50

    Retleo

    about 4 years ago

    5524 Comments

    The vicarious liability issues in this incident boggle the mind. How about parental consent, medical clearance, rational forethought, common sense....etc, etc. The Deputy was absolutely wrong here. The school is also culpable. This incident did not happen in a vacuum, how could 30 kids be tased without someone on the school staff being aware of it? I sense the lawyers circling the blood pit as we speak!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    rsironron

    about 4 years ago

    5220 Comments

    No comment.

  • Meangreen01_max50

    AZmeangreen

    about 4 years ago

    2338 Comments

    Sigh... why? Really? Come on!

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max160_max50

    shoein81

    about 4 years ago

    216 Comments

    I don't understand how people like this can become police officers. Maybe this department should look at their recruitment processes.

  • Wolfspirit_max50

    AKangel

    about 4 years ago

    4950 Comments

    Wow!

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