Since the 1990s, police officers have been using Tasers in the course of their work. Tasers look like guns, but they do not shoot bullets. Instead, they shoot significant volts of electricity. When the electricity hits a human then the person’s central nervous system is temporarily paralyzed, the person becomes incapacitated, and the police may be able to control a dangerous situation without the use of bullets.
While Tasers may protect lives by preventing the use of lethal force, they are not risk-free.
Serious Injuries and Deaths May Result From Tasers
Some Taser injuries may be fatal. Other Taser injuries include:
- Heart failure or sudden cardiac arrest
- Vision problems
- Broken bones (when a person falls after being hit by a Taser)
Anyone may be at risk of suffering these types of injuries from a Taser. However, people on certain medications, people with underlying health issues, pregnant women, children, and the elderly may be at an increased risk of getting hurt or dying.
Tasers May Be Reasonable Force in Some Situations
An injury, or even a death, does not mean that a police officer used the Taser unreasonably. Tasers may be used in accordance with police officer training, procedures, and protocol. The use of Tasers may be justified if it is reasonable given the situation.
The Rockford Police Department, for example, had discontinued the use of Tasers by many officers in 2009 because of the risk of cardiac injuries. In 2016, the Rockford Police Department began using Tasers again. At that time, the Department’s new Taser policies and procedures included:
- Using Tasers that have cameras on them so that each incident could be reviewed and recorded.
- Using Tasers only when a suspect is aggressive or threatening a police officer or a member of the public.
- Having police commanders review every Taser incident and determine whether the appropriate level of force was used given the situation.
If proper procedure is followed and the use of the Taser is not excessive force, then you may not have a claim for police brutality. This is not always the case, however.
When the Use of a Taser Becomes Police Brutality
If the use of a Taser was more force than necessary to control the situation, to protect the public, or to take a suspect into custody, then the use of the Taser may have been excessive force on the part of the police. The details of the situation must be taken into account when determining whether the police officer’s use of a Taser amounted to excessive force. Every situation is unique. However, some relevant details may include whether:
- You had a weapon or the police officer reasonably believed that you had a weapon.
- The police officer felt threatened or that the public’s safety was threatened.
- There were less forceful means available to detain you or to control the situation.
- You were warned before the police officer used the Taser.
- You resisted arrest.
Other factors about your individual situation will also be relevant. Therefore, it is important to relate the entire story in as much detail as possible to your police brutality lawyer as soon after the incident as possible. That way, the details will be fresh in your mind and will be less likely to be forgotten.
How to Protect Your Legal Rights and Recovery If You’ve Been Hurt by Police Brutality
Excessive police force may violate your rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution which protects you from unreasonable seizure. It may also violate state and federal law. If you have been hurt by a Taser, or your loved one was killed by a Taser, and you believe that the police officer used excessive force when using the Taser then it is important to talk to an experienced police brutality lawyer as soon as possible.
An attorney will review all of the facts of your case, including any videos, and advise you of your legal rights. If you have a potential police brutality case, then your lawyer will discuss what you should do next.
Our lawyers are committed to upholding the law. We have great respect for police officers who do their job according to the law, and we want police officers who hurt people by abusing their powers to be held accountable.
Please contact us online or call our office directly at 800.800.5678 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today. We welcome your visit to our Rockford, Gurnee, or Bloomington office or we would be happy to come to you if that is more convenient.