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BART Officers Get Stripped of Tasers

BART Officers Get Stripped of Tasers

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San Francisco Chronicle via YellowBrix

April 16, 2010

OAKLAND — The BART Police Department stripped its officers of Tasers on Thursday, days after a sergeant fired the electric darts of his stun gun at a 13-year-old boy fleeing from police in Richmond on his bicycle, sources told The Chronicle.

BART officials, who said officers would be retrained to use the devices, attributed the decision to the Richmond incident as well as a recent federal court ruling that narrowed the circumstances under which police can use Tasers.

The officials said they could not comment on the Richmond case, citing privacy laws that apply to internal investigations. Interim Police Chief Dash Butler said only that the incident accelerated plans that were already in progress to retrain officers and update policies on the proper use of Tasers, which BART police began using in December 2008.

Sources familiar with the matter, however, told The Chronicle that a veteran sergeant in a moving patrol car fired his Taser several days ago at the 13-year-old boy, who was fleeing from an altercation at BART’s Richmond Station on a bicycle.

The darts missed the boy, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. They said the sergeant, who has taught defensive tactics at BART, remained at work but had been removed from street duty.

Butler said the suspension of the Taser program would allow the department to do training that integrates rulings by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that have already prompted changes at agencies around the Bay Area.

The most pivotal ruling came in December, when the court said a man could sue a Coronado (San Diego County) police officer who had stunned him with a Taser to gain compliance after pulling him over for failing to wear a seat belt. The man was “yelling gibberish and hitting his thighs,” the court said, but did not pose an immediate threat to the officer.

“We were planning on doing this a few weeks down the road,” Butler said of pulling Tasers off the streets, “and (the Richmond incident) accelerated it.” New rules

Butler said BART’s Taser policy has always barred officers from using the devices to stop fleeing suspects, and will continue to do so. He said the new policy forbids using a Taser on a minor “unless there’s some exigent circumstances.”

“Let’s say,” he said, “you had a 17-year-old who was 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds and was pounding on an officer and the officer couldn’t escape. The officer could use a Taser.”

Butler said BART’s new policy will also forbid officers from pulling and firing Tasers with their strong hand – their gun hand. When officers resume carrying Tasers, he said, right-handed officers will have to keep the devices on their left hip and deploy them with their left hand.

“The real common sense of it,” Butler said, “is you don’t want to put that device anywhere near the handgun. Potentially, you could have confusion. We don’t want that possibility. Just put them on the weak side.” Tasers in Grant case

BART’s Taser program has been under scrutiny since a former officer, Johannes Mehserle, shot and killed unarmed train rider Oscar Grant on Jan. 1, 2009, at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland.

Attorneys for Mehserle, who faces a murder trial this summer, say he meant to stun Grant with a Taser and accidentally fired his service pistol.

The Chronicle reported earlier this year that Mehserle had borrowed a Taser and a special holster for the device from a colleague a few hours before the shooting. At the time, in a cost-saving move, BART forced officers to share both Tasers and holsters.

Mehserle, though, did not adjust his colleague’s holster, a task that would have demanded up to 15 minutes of work with an Allen wrench and a Phillips-head screwdriver. Instead, Mehserle wore the holster in a way that required him to draw the Taser with his right hand – his gun hand.

But there are indications Mehserle was accustomed to a left-handed draw for a Taser. A source familiar with his training said that’s the way he preferred to wear it.

John Burris, an attorney representing Grant’s family, said Thursday that if an officer fired at a fleeing teenager on a bike, “that’s outrageous. I can’t imagine there’s a justification for that use of force. You create undue danger that the person may fall off the bicycle, and either hit someone else or be killed.”

Burris called the temporary suspension of the Taser program “a very positive step” for BART.

Burris said, “It’s important that this retraining take place before someone else is seriously injured or killed.”

  • Esu_patch_max50


    about 3 years ago


    To the poster below me, guess we all know how you feel, dont try to hide it with a name like that. I wonder why youre even on this site? ANother Ron Kuby wannabe? We can tell your an idiot right after your first sentence,,, Oh well guess this is what Monster wanted.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago


    First and formost before anyone start speaking they need to realize that it doesnt matter what that young man did he didnt deserve to get shot in his back while he is laying face down with a police officers knee in his back. he did not deserve to die. yall dont know if he was acting a fool or not. he was a grown man with a child just trying to get home. but because the news and the police say he was acting a ass then he must have been right?? WRONG!! maybe his friends where but no one is to say he was. but regardless a what yall say he didnt not deserve to die. he wasnt resisting arrest. he was very cooperative and he died which ever way. I have seem the video , I have read the stories! the police is at fault completely for this. and alot of things they have done. But they dont want to fess up to thier bullshit that they have done. everyone knows who the real criminals are . . . THE POLICE!! I think they should take the guns and keep the tasers. WTF do bart police need a gun for?? if its that serious call THE POLICE and let them handle it. Bart police are like security gaurds. all they need is thier tasers and flash lights!!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    I won't even ride BART anymore because the last few times I have it's such a pit. It's great for during commute hours when it's primarily business people and professionals but after those hours, not so much. I think it's ridiculous that BART officers catch as much flak as they do for every little thing they do. I won't even get into the whole shooting except to say this: If that "fine, young, upstanding citizen," Oscar Grant and his buddies hadn't been ACTING UP, behaving like morons in public, BART officers never even would have had to respond.
    I don't care who you are, you act like some ghetto idiot in public and you're begging for trouble.

  • Masonb2_max50


    over 4 years ago


    the one who needs to "get the piss beat out of himself" is Mehserle.
    next defense-"i was trying to shine my flashlight on him..and then realized i was actually blowing him to bits'

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    The Stupid Judge That made this ruling ought to get the piss beat out of himself and an officer ought to be close enough to tase the perp but unable to reach him and watch the judge and see if he would change his mind if it is him being on the wrong end of a good old ass kicking.

  • Evgeni_nabokov_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Bad move, unfortunately the next story you will hear is about a tazer gun and how ot could have saved the officers lives. I hope this does not happen.

  • Thumbnailcaf8y9in_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Criminals are getting it easier and easier arent they?

  • Geiger_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Making our job harder one ruling at a time.

  • 100_0376_max50


    over 4 years ago


    They need to stop taking comments from defense attorneys because they hate the police.

  • Dscn2674_1_0164_164_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Sounds like a stupid move. They need to rethink this one.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    There seem to be some issues around the use of tasers in this force, but I think it would have been better if they had issues the new guidlines and then started to retrain staff

  • Img00015-20101105-1530_max50


    over 4 years ago



  • Angel_kincaid_park_2014_max50


    over 4 years ago


    NOT COOL! Making Life easier for the crimminal...

  • Me2_max50


    over 4 years ago


    woooooooooow. thats not cool. that was a lagit reason to taze in my eyes....

  • Image_max50


    over 4 years ago


    That is not good.

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