Ninth District Taser Ruling Not Likely To Alter Elk Grove Procedures Says Chief

On Monday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that a Coronado, Calif. police officer used excessive force whil...

On Monday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that a Coronado, Calif. police officer used excessive force while using a taser on a suspect who had been pulled over for a seatbelt violation.

The ruling reverses a lower court decision and allows the taser victim to proceed with a civil damages suit against the police department and individual officer. In that incident, the then 21-year male suspect, who was clad only in underwear and shoes, was tasered by the officer who initiated the stop.

As a result of the taser, the suspect fell on his face and smashed out four front teeth. The officer claimed the suspect, who was 15 to 20 feet away took a step toward him. However the appeal court ruled evidence showed that the suspect was facing away from the officer when the taser was shot.

Elk Grove's taser policy
The Ninth’s rulings will not alter Elk Grove’s taser policy according to Police Chief Robert Lehner.

That policy states that “authorized personnel may use the taser when circumstances known to the individual officer at the time indicate that the application of the taser is reasonable to subdue or control.”

Specifically, those circumstances include a violent or physically resisting subject or one who shows potential for such behavior.

According to the department’s policy, behavior that show potential resistance includes a physical or verbal demonstration of intent to resist preceded by an officers verbal warning of their intended use of the taser followed by a reasonable time to allow the suspect to voluntarily comply and Other available options reasonably appear ineffective or would present a greater danger to the officer or subject.

“As I read the Bryan v. McPherson decision, it appears that our current policy adequately addresses issues raised in the case and EGPD’s policy will not require revision,” Lehner said. “As do many California police agencies, we subscribe to a police policy development and review service that specifically monitors court cases that might require policy changes or revisions.

Although Elk Grove Police have no reported taser problems, a Sacramento man died earlier this month from a taser while in the custody of the Roseville Police Department. The investigation into that death is on-going.

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