Taser Lawsuits and Police Use of Force
In a recent article in Popular Mechanics, we discussed the details of a Taser lawsuit. What many people do not realize, however, is that carrying a Taser is not without controversy. Although Tasers have been approved by the FDA and have been used for years safely by police officers and security guards, there are still some people who feel they have not been fully justified. They argue that the devices pose too great a danger for innocent people and that victims do not receive adequate justice when using them. This can be an emotionally charged situation, so we have outlined the basics of a Taser lawsuit.
A Taser lawsuit often involves allegations that a police officer or security guard improperly used a device without just cause. Often, police officers carry Tasers even though they are not allowed to fire them at persons under the age of 18, according to California state law. According to the legal group National Action Network, “Anecdotal evidence supports the notion that police officers inappropriately used force against citizens while using Tasers-including physical force, unnecessary force, and unnecessary intrusion-without proper justification.” In addition, according to the legal group Stop The Trampoline Massacre, “The mere presence of a Taser did not stop Michael Johnson from shooting Johnson dead.”
There are two possible interpretations of whether a security guard has violated the rights of a private person by using a deadly force, namely excessive force. If a security guard is found to have abused his or her power given by the state to protect people, the resulting claim may call into question the basis for other police stops as well. This means that a person filing a taser lawsuit may seek monetary compensation because he was stopped, frisked, searched, and beaten while he was on the way to work. A separate suit filed by the same man may claim that he suffered permanent injuries as a result of the incident.
It is also up to the courts to decide if the police protocol for arresting a suspect complied with the United States Constitution. Some courts have held that the use of deadly force must be done in a way that is “rationally self-defense reasonable.” However, most police departments adopt a more laid back approach to protocol. This means that the protocol can vary from one police department to another. If you were pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, one court has upheld the right of a driver to shoot an object in the car if the object is a toy that he or she has been playing with.
If you are a victim of brutality or deadly force, you may be able to file a civil suit against the arresting officers, the sheriff’s department, and the hospital where you were hospitalized. A few states have rules that govern their use of force in arresting people. If these rules were violated when you were arrested, you can bring a lawsuit against the officers. For example, the Cook County Illinois state law board has ruled that a police officer must retreat before using deadly force, which is a standard rule in Illinois and most other states. Similarly, the New York State Supreme Court has ruled that the excessive force used against plaintiff Frank Venice during an arrest was unconstitutional.
The point of bringing a lawsuit is to hold the police officers accountable for using excessive force against you. Most people who have suffered injuries as the result of being roughed up by an officer will testify that they would never have engaged in such behavior if they knew what the officers were doing. However, if an arresting officer does not have the required training to use the equipment appropriately, your rights as a victim are violated. The officers’ goal is not to arrest you, but to gain compliance from you.