“In what is being heralded as a landmark decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently declared that police officers could be held liable for using a Taser without proper cause. And in making their determination, the court also set new legal parameters on how law enforcement is to use Tasers, stating, “The objective facts must indicate that the suspect poses an immediate threat to the officer or a member of the public.” The federal finding substantially changes the landscape of Taser usage, and may signal the end of Tasers for law enforcement agencies who are now more vulnerable to civil and criminal action then ever before.
The decision, which has already caused law enforcement agencies to re-evaluate their Taser policies, stems from a case involving a Coronado police officer, Brian McPherson, who tased unarmed 21-year-old Carl Bryan during a traffic stop for a seatbelt infraction in Southern California. After being pulled over, Bryan was standing outside of his vehicle, wearing only boxer shorts and tennis shoes. He was 20 to 25 feet from the officer, and when tased, fell face first to the ground, fractured four teeth, and had to get the Taser prongs removed with a scalpel. Bryan went on to sue the Coronado Police Department, and the federal appellate court was making a determination if McPherson had immunity to the lawsuit as an officer. The court ruled in favor of Bryan.”
Not everything we need, but a step in the right direction. Again, tasers are deadly weapons. Period.