Los Angeles Police Department is implementing more tasers in an attempt to avoid police shootings. But what if tasing somebody doesn’t subdue that person? Is it okay to then shoot him or her?
The LA Times recently reported that nearly a quarter of people killed by LAPD officers in 2015 were tased first then shot after the taser didn’t work. The article cited an LAPD report that tasers only work about half the time (like flipping a coin). When the taser does not work and the suspect, who may be understandably panicked by the prospect of the excruciating pain of 50,000 volts, is then shot, it’s a situation of, “Heads I win, tails you lose.”
LAPD used tasers in 519 incidents, and pulled the triggers 1,101 times in 2015. It is clear that in most cases, if the taser does not subdue and control the suspect, officers don’t then shoot him or her because we would have had a lot more than 38 LAPD gun shootings last year. So one question is, why did the officer use the taser in the first place if the situation did not call for lethal force?
When Can a Police Officer Use Lethal Force?
The United States Supreme Court ruled that police can use lethal force if a suspect poses an immediate danger to the police officer(s) or to others. The standard applied is if a reasonable police officer in the same circumstance would use deadly force to stop or control the suspect. But nationwide news reports and numerous lawsuits allege that police have tased
- Unarmed suspects;
- Handcuffed suspects;
- Suspects who are not a danger to others;
- Suspects in custody who are not a danger to others;
- Mentally ill suspects;
- Suspects who are impaired by alcohol and other drugs; and
- People who are obeying police commands/ are not resisting arrest.
How Deadly Are Tasers?
Taser International, the only company that makes and markets tasers and the company the LAPD contracted with to supply the weapons, is secretive about lawsuits it has settled. The company has sued two coroners that included being tased as cause of death, discouraging others from listing this on the coroner report. The Guardian reported that in the 47 cases where a tasing victim died in the US in 2015, only one coroners’ report listed tasing.
According to Amnesty international over 500 people have died from being tased in the U.S. alone. While some of the deaths were due to inadequate training of police in use of the taser, other deaths were due to police not following proper procedures. According to The Guardian most people who get tased by police are unarmed. And some deaths were due to a physical condition of the victim where the person’s body could not withstand one or more five-second jolts of 50,000 volts of electricity.
Why Do Tasers Only Work Half the Time?
The LA Times stated that while LAPD is moving to tasers to avoid shootings, the tasers don’t always work as they are supposed to. There can be many reasons using a taser to subdue a suspect does not work. Some reasons why tasing doesn’t work include
- The suspect is mentally ill and/ or high on a drug such as meth or alcohol;
- The taser darts do not penetrate the suspect’s thick clothing;
- The suspect yanks the darts out;
- The darts are dislodged by a sudden movement;
- The gun malfunctions.
Because the LAPD intends to arm most police with tasers, despite the fact they don’t work half the time and some cops misuse them, we can expect more tragedies.
Call The Sehat Law Firm Immediately If You or Somebody You Love Was Tased or Killed by Police
Companies like Taser International are going to continue to promote their product no matter how many people die, as long as they’re making big profits. The LAPD has ignored safety issues and will continue to do so as long as they feel that they won’t be held financially or legally accountable for deaths and injuries the weapon causes. They promote the weapon as “less lethal,” but tasers still have a high potential to cause death or serious injury and they are still used when cops have other options than lethal force.
If you or somebody you love is injured or killed by an LAPD tasing, you need to talk to an experienced Police Misconduct lawyer now. You will be helping all of us to stand up to Taser International’s campaign to promote and sell their dangerous weapons as an alternative to lethal force. Coroners hesitate to report that the potentially lethal taser is a factor in many killings. Who wants to face a lawsuit by a rich and powerful company like Taser International?
In order to be safe from Taser International’s campaign to promote their dangerous product, we must respond in kind. Civil Rights litigation could make it more difficult and costly for the LAPD to arm officers with Tasers, which only work half the time anyway, but when they do work they have a potential to cause serious injury and death.
Civil Rights litigation may be the only path to justice and relative safety for us and our loved ones. We should have a say over whether our tax money is spent to arm police with malfunctioning weapons that are frequently used to electrocute unarmed suspects, the mentally ill, homeless people and those impaired by addiction.
At The Sehat Law Firm our experienced Police Misconduct lawyers are appalled at the increasing brutality employed by the LAPD in situations where lethal force is not appropriate or legal. Our police tasing Los Angeles attorney, Cameron Sehat believes that Civil Litigation may be the only way to hold the police accountable. Read more here on types of Police Misconduct.
If you or somebody you love has been tased, shot, beaten, intimidated, unlawfully detained, or have had your rights violated in any way, call The Sehat Law Firm immediately. You don’t have to assert your rights alone; our experienced and compassionate Police Misconduct attorneys will stand up with you and help you to demand justice.