Via the Observer blog comes this footage of a police offiver in Palm Beach, Florida, using a taser to subdue a ‘dangerous’ criminal…
… a 22 year old woman who’s been stopped for a traffic offence.
(Note – requires Quicktime and sound turned on for full effect, so maybe not one to view in the office unless you’ve an understanding boss)
To say the least this makes for extremely uncomfortable viewing.
What can be said about an incident like this.
The police believe, as the alternative commentaries show, that the followed the correct procedure and were entirely justified in their actions – one the soundtrack you can clearly hear one of the officers tell the woman afterwards that she was tasered for ‘taking a swing’ at his colleague, although you have to think that as the woman was in a seated position in the car at the time this ‘swing’ wou;d have more a bit weak flailing around with her arm to try to prevent the officer from pulling her bodily out of the car rather than anything likely to cause an injury or offer any real threat.
The accompanying special report in the Palm Beach Post, which is linked to on the page, is well worth a visit as well and, amongst other things, you’ll find out from it that a class action lawsuit has been filed in the US challenging the safety claims made by Taser after a string of deaths, over a hundred according to the article, which followed the use of a Taser during an arrest.
Stories of ‘trigger happy cops‘ are by no means uncommon in the US, nor indeeed over here – the introduction of pepper spray in the UK has brought occasional allegations that Police were too quick to resort to it in situations where the person they were trying to arrest was clearly agitated but otherwise not offering a real threat of violence, and that’s really where the concern lies.
The risk with Tasers is that the are heavily promoted as being ‘safe’ and not causing permanant injury when used, which makes them look like an easy option in a potentially difficult situation yet not only are question marks emerging in the US about their safety but this also ignores entirely the clearly traumatic effect that they have at the time of arrest, as this footage shows. They’re not some boffiny product of ‘Q division’ which renders someone quickly, painlessly and safely unconscious but device which inflicts excruciating pain on the poor bastard on the receiving end adn, as such, should only be used in the most serious situations where there really is no alternative to their use other than use of firearm.