Monday, July 28, 2008

Death by Taser

A man died in police custody down in Louisiana after being tasered nine times while handcuffed. A grand jury is being convened to determine if criminal charges will be filed.

I have been certified to carry a Taser at my job and I know what it's like to get hit by one. One of the things that was stressed in our training was that the Taser is not a pain compliance tool. It is to be used when lethal force is justified in order to protect the officer or someone else from serious bodily harm. You can't convince me that this was the case here. The man was handcuffed. Throw him on the ground and sit on him or get other officers to wrestle the man into a cell. There are control options available other than the Taser.

Unfortunately, because it is so easy and effective, not to mention it doesn't leave blood or bruises, it has become common for law enforcement officers to use it anytime a suspect gets mouthy or doesn't cooperate right away. Part of their training is learning how to cope with those situations, but for many all of that gets thrown out the window as soon as they have a Taser on their belt which leads to some tragic circumstances. It also amounts to torture, although I guess in this country that's probably a-okay to most.

Police departments need to start more strictly regulating Taser use before a hue and cry is raised that gets them taken away which would be unfortunate because they are an effective tool when used properly.

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