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September 15, 2008
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Capt. Greg Meyer (ret.) Less Lethal Issues in Law Enforcement
with Capt. Greg Meyer (ret.)

TASER incidents in the news

I want to call your attention to a few significant TASER incidents in the news. The object is to take a look at these incidents, then compare your own agency’s experiences. We can learn from the strengths of others, as well as the mistakes of others!

Think about your tactics as you read these articles. Especially be aware of the need for distance, cover and lethal-force back-up when confronting a suspect with a dangerous suspect.


From Fox11AZ.com, August 27, 2008:
A Federal Court jury in Tucson has found that two Pima County Sheriff’s Department employees did not use excessive force when arresting a man at a concert in May of 2003. Frank Sanchez filed the lawsuit for more than $2 million in 2005, alleging that the deputies used excessive force when they used a TASER on him prior to his arrest. As a result of the verdict, Sanchez was awarded no compensation. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department started using TASERs on a limited basis in 2001, according to a Department press release, and they have been issued to all deputies since then. The release goes on to say, “The TASER has led to many confrontations being quickly resolved with minimal injuries, and has proven itself as a useful and effective tool over and over.” Read the story

From CourierMail.com.au (Australia), September 2, 2008:
Two police officers risked their lives to drag a drunk man out of a burning house at Kingston south of Brisbane. The officers arrived and began negotiating with the man, who was armed with a knife, but as they were speaking to him he began lighting bits of newspaper. Fearing he would die in the blaze, the officers kicked down the front door and used a TASER to subdue him before dragging him to safety. Regional Duty Officer Acting Inspector Steve Apps said the man was still in possession of the knife when the TASER was used. "He was intoxicated and quite agitated. I have no doubt he would have perished in the blaze if the officers had not acted as they did," Insp Apps said. Read the story

From News.com.au (Australia), September 1, 2008:
A senior police officer shot a man in the leg after she was violently beaten at the scene of a break and enter, Queensland's police union said. When the officer encountered the 26-year-old suspect, he allegedly attacked her. Queensland Police Union president Cameron Pope said the officer attempted to pacify the man with capsicum spray but was left with no choice but to shoot him when that failed. Queensland Police Minister Judy Spence said the shooting may have been avoided if the officer had been equipped with a TASER, which are being rolled out to police across the state. "It's likely that a TASER would have been useful," she told ABC Radio. Read the story

From Newsletter.co.uk (Ireland), September 4, 2008:
The first person to be subdued with the help of a TASER application in Northern Ireland has been charged with threats to kill and assault. Police personnel were forced to activate the tool to subdue a 37-year-old man who had locked himself and his two children in his Galliagh home. The victim was later detained under the Mental Health Act. Specialist PSNI officers have been trained in the use of the TASER that delivers a disabling 50,000 volts. The introduction of the weapon has been opposed by human rights experts. Read the story

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 3, 2008:
A Sharpsburg man has been charged in the shooting of a neighbor. Police said the suspect pointed a gun at officers trying to arrest him. . . . The victim, who was not identified by police, is expected to survive. Officers said they used a TASER to subdue Harris because he refused orders to drop the weapon. Harris was not injured. Read the story

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From TimaruHerald.com (New Zealand), August 30, 2008, an editorial entitled, “Taser decision the right one:”
[T]hose who will actually get TASERed once the stun guns are issued to police will be people who have put themselves into a position where that is necessary. . . . TASERS will be expected to be used only when the circumstances demand it, and the public will rightly expect those officers who do use them to be held to account in terms of whether the circumstances justified discharging a TASER. It should also not be forgotten that in the year-long trial . . . there were only 19 actual discharges of TASERS. However, the stun guns were produced on five times as many occasions as that, which suggests that in a vast majority of cases, just the sight of one was deterrent enough to calm a potentially volatile situation.  Read the story

From the Vancouver Sun, August 29, 2008:
. . . The caller told police her brother was drunk and had grabbed a 10-inch kitchen knife. The sister was able to get him out of the home before locking the door, but the brother started banging at the door, holding the knife to his throat and threatening to kill himself, police said. When members of the Burnaby RCMP arrived they found the brother at the back door of the home with the knife still to his throat. . . . Police officers tried talking to the suicidal man to calm him down and get him to put the knife down. . . . Police then decided to use a TASER, and successfully subdued him. He was treated in hospital and released back into police custody. . . . "Without doubt this incident could have had a different ending if the members did not have the option of utilizing a TASER," Cpl. Mulvihill said. "The use of the TASER was directly responsible for bringing this incident to a safe conclusion. TASERs do save lives." Read the story

About the author



Greg Meyer, a retired Captain from the Los Angeles Police Academy, served for 30 years, including eight years as a commanding officer. Greg is a member of the National Advisory Board of the Force Science Research Center, a member of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).

He holds the Certified Litigation Specialist credential of the Americans for Effective Law Enforcement (AELE), and is a member of the AELE seminar faculty for lethal and nonlethal weapons issues.


Greg can be reached at: gregmeyer@earthlink.net





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