01 November 2007

More Taser misuse

Not cool.

LAist: OC Deputies Taser, Cuff 15-Year-Old Autistic Boy
Taylor Karras was reported missing by his mother yesterday, after running away from a Westminster social services facility where he was receiving therapy for autism.

Around 9:30 p.m., the 15-year-old boy was found just a block from his North Tustin home. Orange County Sheriff's deputies spotted Karras pushing a shopping cart in the street, chased him on foot, Tasered him once, and handcuffed him.

Only when a passing neighbor recognized Karras did the authorities realize he had been reported missing nearly ten hours earlier and that he had a disability.

Taylor Karras's mother, Doris, said she saw the entire incident and felt the police action was excessive. "He had been stopping at bus stops and reading the maps to find his way home," she said.

OC Sheriff Lt. Hal Brotheim claimed that Karras took off running through traffic when the deputies approached him. Traffic in unincorporated North Tustin at 9:30 p.m. on a Monday night. Link

Guard Tasers Man Holding Baby
In a confrontation captured on videotape, a hospital security guard fired a stun gun to stop a defiant father from taking home his newborn, sending both man and child crashing to the floor. Now William Lewis says his baby girl suffers from head trauma because she was dropped.

"I've got to wonder what kind of moron would Tase an adult holding a baby," said George Kirkham, a former police officer and criminologist at Florida State University. "It doesn't take rocket science to realize the baby is going to fall."

..."The Taser itself is a legitimate law-enforcement tool," said Kirkham, the criminologist. "The problem is the abusive use of them. They're supposed to be only used to protect yourself or another person from imminent aggression and physical harm. They're overused now." Link

Hog-tied woman tasered in jail
A Butterfield woman who allegedly was "hog-tied" and shocked multiple times with a Taser at the Barry County Jail is suing in federal court.

Melissa A. "Missy" Norman, 41, claims her civil rights were violated during a July 23 incident at the jail.

At least a half dozen officers from the Barry County Sheriff's Department and Cassville Police Department previously were placed on leave because of the incident, which is being investigated by the Missouri Highway Patrol.

None of the officers has been charged.

Norman "was handcuffed, leg shackled, hog-tied, blindfolded and tasered numerous times," according to a news release issued by her her attorneys, John Lewright and Robert Foulke.

Lewright said Monday the Taser incident was recorded by a video camera in the booking area, although he had yet to receive a copy of the recording. Lewright said he took the case — he normally focuses on criminal defense — because it "infuriated" him. The slow pace of the investigation into the woman's jail treatment and a delay in receiving the video have only added to that frustration, he said.

"If people hog-tied a dog and then took a cattle prod to that dog ... they would be federally prosecuted," he said.

The lawsuit claims: Norman's constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments were violated; the departments failed to properly supervise the officers; Norman was discriminated against under the Americans with Disabilities Act; and she was the victim of battery, negligence and infliction of emotional distress.
According to the lawsuit, Norman "was having personal difficulties" July 23 and contacted a law enforcement officer at his home. She was taken by ambulance to St. John's hospital in Cassville and given medicine to make her vomit.

Norman then left the hospital voluntarily but was later apprehended by a group of law enforcement officers, who "tackled, handcuffed, and leg-shackled" her, according to the lawsuit. The handcuffs and leg shackles were tied together behind her back while an officer "was digging his knee into Missy's neck so she could not breathe," the lawsuit said.

Norman allegedly was put into the back of a patrol car without a seat belt and taken to the Barry County Jail. Once there, a group of officers carried her into a booking area and allegedly taunted her. Norman "was terrified and started hitting her head," the lawsuit said.

The officers allegedly taped a towel around her head with duct tape, then began shooting her with a Taser multiple times. The lawsuit said that at one point the officers lifted Norman's shirt above her stomach to administer the Taser to her bare skin, causing burn wounds. Norman's screams of pain and pleas that the officers stop were repeatedly ignored, the lawsuit said.She eventually was placed in a jail cell but not released to a hospital until the next morning.

Six were punished for incident. Neither Epperly, the sheriff, nor McCullough, the police chief, returned phone calls seeking comment Monday.

Epperly — who was away at a conference at the time of the incident — said in an interview in July that Norman was emotionally disturbed and went to the home of an off-duty officer threatening suicide at about 10 p.m. the night of the incident.

Epperly said he was told officers tracked down Norman after she left the hospital out of concern for her safety.She became combative, he said, spat at and tried to harm officers, as well as herself. At the jail, Norman reportedly was hitting her head on the floor before a deputy used a Taser on her twice, the sheriff said. Link

At least the goat got away
DECATUR, Ala. (AP) - A nanny goat eluded police and a Taser stun after being spotted running into traffic in Decatur. Sergeant Jeremy Hayes said the goat, which occasionally ran onto roads, had been spotted repeatedly Sunday. He said Decatur police got three calls on the goat. Police didn't know where the goat came from and weren't sure where it was today. Lieutenant Frank DeButy said patrol officers tried zapping the goat with a Taser near Somerville Elementary school but missed as the goat was running full-stride.Hayes said police were having trouble catching the goat because they don't want to injure it. Link

H/T to Jesus' General