April 7, 2008

Taser Victim Donnell Williams Secures Legal Counsel


Many villagers will recall the taser incident involving Donnell Williams in Wichita that took place last year. The police busted down the brother's door and unleashed an unwarranted taser attack because he didn't answer their commands quick enough. It turns out Donnell Williams is deaf.

In any case, we are pleased to report that Donnell Williams now has a legal team working for him. Perhaps one way to get the police to be less laser-happy is to make it cost heavily every time they make a mistake.

Kudos to NAACP Wichita Branch for staying on top of this issue for all of us.

6 comments:

Tey said...

That's the problem when someone makes a mistake, someone has to suffer...

Hi Villager.. It's been a while since I last visited you.

Villager said...

Tey - As I recall ... that was the best way to learn things when we were younger. Burn your finger on the stove and you learned not to put your finger on the stove anymore. Perhaps, the police will taser with more responsibility if they get sued for big bucks when they make mistake.

It is great to see your face in the place. Your village voice has been missed...

Gunfighter said...

Hotep, Villager!

Please remember that police use of force is primarily goverened by two Supreme Court cases: Graham v. Connor and Tennessee v. Garner.

In Connor, the Supreme Court held that individual uses of force must be judged by what the reasonable officer on the scene at the time of the incident, rather than the 20/20 vision of hindsight.

Could the officer have been reasonably expected to know that this man was deaf?

Villager said...

Gunfighter - Your point is well-taken. However, in this case, the police went to the wrong address and busted down the door and tasered a half-naked deaf man. What reasonable person would do such a thing?

If there are not consequences for the police in a case like this one ... when will there every be consequences?

KMyles said...

Gunfighter, you are correct. In fact, that is precisely the argument that the WPD is using to deny culpability. But while they clearly had no way of knowing he was deaf, that completely misses the point.

The WPD has policies governing taser usage that they are bound to respect. The officers on the scene were looking at a small man (around 5'7" - 150lbs) who is OBVIOUSLY and VISIBLY disabled (one leg is longer than the other, he has one glass eye and a metal plate in his head). He was also naked and exiting his steam filled bathroom. And Donnell was not born Deaf... he lost his hearing (and his eye) as teh result of an accident. Consequently, while he can not hear without his hearing aids, his speech is CLEAR. When Donnell told teh Officers that he needed his Hearing Aids, they should have respected that. Donnell's size and condition when viewed in the context of the environment and circumstances could hardly be considered threatning. And When Donnell attempted to get his hearing aid (which was in plain view - on the dining room table) there was no cause or justification for the Officers to skip a few levels on the continuum and escalate the use of force.

KMyles
Wichita NAACP

Villager said...

Kevin - Thank you for sharing the other side of the story. The work that you are doing with the NAACP Wichita Branch is outstanding and serves as a model for other NAACP branches around the country...