In Lubbock, Texas a drug dealer has been freed because officers used a Taser to make him give up the damning evidence. Instead of serving a FIFTY year sentence the guy is out because cops tasered him repeatedly, including shots to the groin, even after they took him to the hospital for treatment. The perpetrator would not open his mouth to where the officers suspected he was hiding the drugs.
Officers arrested Anthony Hereford in May of 2007 for evading an earlier traffic arrest when they noticed he had something in his mouth, possibly drugs, which he refused to spit out. "They threw him on the car, choked him out. He still wouldn't open his mouth. They tased him again," said Hereford's attorney, Susan Rowley.Hereford was convicted but that was overturned when the Appeals Court stated the evidence should have never been admitted.
The officers involved, Williams, Arp, and Holmes, then took him to the hospital where Rowley says the incident continued. "They tased him another 8 to 10 times, mostly in the groin, while he was hand cuffed, while the medical staff was there, at the hospital," said Rowley.
"They agreed that evidence should never have been let in. That it should have been suppressed because it was illegally obtained. When you torture someone to get evidence. You can't do that," said Rowley.Torturing for evidence? Where are we, the former Soviet Union?
The problem, which is pervasive among our law enforcement community, is that the Taser is seen as a tool to be used to obtain compliance and not one to only be used for self defense or in the defense of others.
The Opinion also said, "No one accused the defendant of being violent or physically aggressive." State Representative Delwin Jones said there is a distinct difference between self-defense and non compliance, and tasers should be used in self defense. He feels policies should restrict and guide taser use, and he hopes law enforcement steps up to make those policies. "I think they're the ones that have a responsibility, and if they refuse that responsibility, that's when legislative action occurs. Hopefully they will develop guidelines that are strong enough," Jones said.Tasers are less lethal weapons and not less than lethal weapons. They harm the target and can kill. Too many departments and officers have viewed them as a magic tool to effect arrests and avoid the dirty work of taking a subject down. If the Taser is deployed in defense of the officer's welfare or that of a third party, or even to prevent the subject from harming their self, we understand. Otherwise, we do NOT. I hope the Lubbock, Texas officers are held responsible for what should be viewed as criminal behavior.
Rowley agrees the police department should examine their taser use, but isn't confident that will happen. "They kind of laughed about it in court. They were smug about it. It was not an issue to them, and maybe with this decision coming down they'll understand," she said.The citizens these people are supposed to protect must make it an issue.
Elsewhere, Taser International seems to be promoting nonchalance regarding the use of Tasers in the face of the recent Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision about when Taser use is acceptable according to Wired.
How many people will die and how many more criminals will be set free before law enforcement and Taser International admit that Americans have basic rights? I have no objection to law enforcement having the tools to keep us safe as long as the use of those tools respect the natural rights of each individual. It is time for our society to enforce that respect on law enforcement if law enforcement will not embrace it on their own.
Last month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals appeared to restrict police officers’ use of Tasers, ruling that the stun guns should only be fired when the situation “compels the employment of such force.” Now, Taser International has given its version of what the court’s decision means: business as usual.
“Media accounts of the ruling indicated that this was some new and sweeping restriction on the use of TASER ECDs ["electronic control devices"]. It’s not. This judicial opinion actually follows well-established law and applies it to a specific fact situation,” the company asserts on its official blog.