Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Baytown PD's Taser Use Questioned by Amnesty

Amnesty International this week issued a report on police use of Tasers, arguing that 70 documented deaths justify their complete ban until the weapon's safety can be evaluated. Baytown, Texas PD was one of their prime examples. Here's what they had to say:

"Several lawsuits have been filed against officers from the Baytown Police Department, Texas, for alleged abusive use of Tasers. Naomi Autin, a 59-year-old disabled Latina woman, was reportedly tasered three times by police officer Micah Aldred in July 2003 for banging on her brother's door with a brick. According to a lawsuit filed by Autin, she had gone to her brother's house to collect mail while he was away, and became worried after failing to get an answer from the house-sitter and seeing a truck parked in the driveway. She called the police and officer Aldred arrived on the scene. Autin, who is 5 feet 2 inches tall and suffers from severe arthritis, was allegedly tasered in the back by Aldred after she continued to try to gain entry to the house; the officer also allegedly threw her against a post, causing a severe cut to her head. A grand jury indicted the officer on charges of using excessive force, but he was acquitted at trial. Reportedly, police officers corroborated his account that the use of force was justified. Amnesty International understands that no disciplinary action has been taken against the officer.

"The same officer is a defendant in another lawsuit in which an unarmed woman wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant was allegedly 'shocked numerous times about the back, face, neck, shoulders and groin'.

"A lawsuit is pending against another Baytown officer for alleged excessive force during an incident in July 2003, in which the officer used a taser as a stun gun on a man who had just suffered epileptic seizures. The officer reportedly stunned 30-year-old Robert Stanley Jr at close range in an ambulance as medical personnel struggled to strap him down as he struggled in the throes of post-seizure confusion. An Internal Affairs investigation into the incident found that the officer had not violated any policies, and a grand jury investigation reportedly supported police accounts that Stanley had been sufficiently combative to warrant use of the taser."

Grits doesn't agree with Amnesty's call to completely ban Tasers, which are still less frequently lethal than firearms, but strict protocols should limit their use to instances that justify using deadly force.

Via Talk Left

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