December 30, 2009

Federal Court Ruling is Victory for Taser-Torture Opponents

Hallelujah! A federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that police cannot zap someone with an taser gun unless the suspect poses an immediate threat. [SOURCE]

The ruling sets police standards for use of the Taser, saying stun guns must be used only when "substantial force" is needed.

Though stun guns may offer a valuable, nonlethal alternative to deadly force in defusing dangerous situations, Judge Kim Wardlaw (one of the 3 judges in this unanimous decision) said, they inflict a "painful and frightening blow" and must be used only when substantial force is necessary and other options are unavailable.
"It's a significant use of force, not like cuffing someone or using pain compliance or pepper spray," said Eugene Iredale, a lawyer for a San Diego-area man who was Tasered by a police officer who had stopped him for not wearing a seat belt. "It's not to be used promiscuously or lightly."

Officers are now prohibited from using a Taser on a person simply for acting erratically or disobeying orders, according to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This is great news for those of us that have been beating the drums against taser-torture in America! Most of the 58 taser-related deaths in 2009 could have been avoided if this court ruling had been in effect at the beginnng of the year. I suspect that the number of taser-related deaths should slow down considerably if police abide by this court ruling.

What say u?


Gunfighter said...

Truthfully, it seems that the court is looking for an out. What does substantial force" really mean?

If a subject resists arrest (disobeys), an officer can use for to make the subject comply... any level of force outside of officer presence or verbal commands, would constitute substantial force... meaning, in this instance, a Taser.

sissy said...

I recommend reading the court's decision, and note that it was a unanimous decision. Here is the link:

Police have been put on notice:
The taser party is over.

There was really only one bystander witnessing the unconstitutional tasering of Mr Bryan - a passenger in his car.

The main points of the decision to me:

1. Mr Bryan was at least 20 feet from the cop

2. Mr Bryan never physically or verbally attacked or threatened to attack the cop.

3. Mr Bryan was wearing only boxer shorts and tennis shoes - he was obviously unarmed.

4. Mr Bryan was swearing at himself, and acting erratically.

5. Mr. Bryan ignored an order to get back in his car - but Mr Bryan stated he did not hear the order to get back in his car.

5. Mr Bryan was taser shot in the back of his arm and his side (if memory serves) therefore Mr Bryan was turned AWAY from the cop, and obviously not a threat to the cop.

6. Mr Bryan was pulled over for a minor traffic violation - not wearing his seat belt. The court considered this was a minor infraction, and the level for force used by the cop was above and beyond the force a reasonable officer would have used.

7. Other officers were on their way to the scene, so there was no reason the cop could not have waited for reinforcements especially because Mr Bryant was at least 20 feet away from the cop.

8. The court ruling boils down to cops using the minimum force necessary in any situation and the level of force would be what a reasonable police officer would use in the same situation.

9. The taser has the potential to cause severe injuries, and even cause death. The cops should be aware of the potential for severe injuries or even the possibility of death from a taser shot.

Mr Bryal lost control of his body when taser shot and literally keeled over like a ton of bricks. Mr Bryan fractured four teeth and suffered facial injuries when he fell onto the pavement.

10. The court found that the cop used an inappropriate level of force for the situation. But I am just typing from memory - the court's decision is really important to read.

I post here as "sissy" not because I am a sissy, but because Sissy is my nick name - I was christened with an unusual and long ethnic name over 50 years ago and Sissy just stuck. LOL!

I am grateful that Ethnic Village is on the web and providing a forum and a focus on senseless taser torture and taser killings.

sissy said...

OOps, typo - that should have been "Electronic" Village.
My bad.

Villager said...

Gunfighter - It appears that the court decision specifically says that 'disobeying orders' is no longer a sufficient reason to pull out a taser gun.

I haven't read the full decision yet, however, Sissy was kind enough to provide a link for it. I'm going to add that link to the original post for future villagers that drop by our blog and see this post.

btw, happy new year to you/yours!

Ed Padgett said...

Wayne, you immediately came to mind when I read on Twitter yesterday that a court decision had been reached regarding the use of tasers, from the Los Angeles Times.

You’re making a difference in the world and I applaud you.

Happy New Year