Last month, MediaMouse.org reported that police in Bay City, Michigan killed a 15-year old teenager with a Taser. The Michigan State Police are still investigating the incident and there have been few updates in the case.
However, the Bay City Times has questioned the use of the Taser, saying that the Bay City police department’s standard for using Tasers is overly vague:
In February, Bay City police officers used a Taser on a naked man who cursed at them and refused to cooperate outside of St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church in Bay City. Surely, a naked man in freezing weather isn’t much of a threat to anyone but himself.
Yet, local police officers have probably saved people’s lives and their own by using Tasers. Suspects who have attacked and shot at officers lived to tell their tales because police chose to draw their Tasers, and not their pistols.
Stories such as those, which end with everyone alive, are why we don’t hear many people calling for a total ban on Tasers.
But, as the story and possible lawsuits over Brett Elder’s death unfold, it’s clear that more discussion is needed to determine how Tasers should be deployed.
Bay City police policy on Taser use appears overly vague. It asks officers to consider a subject’s size, intoxication, the suspected crime, the number of officers present – 12 points in all – before drawing their Tasers.
That’s a lot for anyone to ponder in the heat of a crisis.
Perhaps police everywhere might consider a less-complicated standard. If a situation would warrant officers drawing their handguns and preparing to use deadly force, let them make the call:
Pistol, or Taser?
Bay City Police Involved in Another Case Involving Taser Abuse
In the above editorial, the newspaper references a case earlier this year in which police used a Taser on a naked man. The original article on that incident from the Bay City Times describes a nother questionable use of Tasers:
“A nude man was Tasered by police Friday morning before he could enter St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church in Bay City.
Bay City Police Sgt. Gordon Cameron said the man – believed to be 26 or 27 – indicated to police he was having problems with his parents and walked to the church without so much as a pair of shoes on.
“He wanted to go to the church,” Cameron said. “I don’t know why.”
Police did not release the man’s name.
Cameron said the man, who lives on Bay City’s West Side, was Tasered by Officer Troy Sierras after he refused to cooperate. Police said the man made several derogatory remarks and cursed at them.
The man, still naked, was detained face down in the church parking lot at 11:45 a.m., surrounded by about seven Bay City police officers and firefighters. Blood dripped from his face, an injury sustained from falling on the pavement after being Tasered, police said.
Police said they were unsure of the man’s mental health or whether he was under the influence of any controlled substances. Cameron said the man likely would not be charged with a crime.
“You never want to see anybody like that,” he said. “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
So, after deciding to Taser the man for insulting them–and ostensibly going through their checklist of when it is appropriate to use a Taser–police didn’t charge him with a crime?
Between this, the killing of a teenager last month, and the other deaths attributed to Taser usage, is it any wonder that The Bay City Times is questioning their use?