Philadelphia Police Brutality Lawyers

Misuse of Tasers by Police Officers

Today’s headlines are riddled with conflicting stories of alleged police brutality and images of fallen officers killed in the line of duty. On the one hand, there is deep respect and mourning from the public for those officers killed while trying to protect them, but on the other hand, reports and videos are making the public question police officer motives and rights to use extreme force in their line of duty. A trained police officer will practice non-violent methods of subduing or restraining a suspect, but the level of stress and possible danger can make even the most experienced officer overreact in some situations.

The use of a firearm is the last resort for a police officer, used only when their own life or that of someone else is threatened. Pepper spray and a wooden baton are alternative methods of controlling a suspect, but require close contact and can be unreliable. The Taser gun, which is an electronic device that emits a non-lethal jolt of electricity, has quickly become the weapon of choice for a large majority of police officers across the country. A 50,000 volt electrical charge is fired from the device and jolts a victim into submission by immobilizing them, as it causes extreme muscle contractions and pain. This immobilization allows officers time to subdue the suspect, place them in handcuffs and take control of the situation.

Taser: a Safe or Lethal Tool?

While the Taser gun is an effective tool for the police officer, it has been linked to several deaths and increasing speculation that officers are too quick to use the tool, inflicting undue pain and harm on their victims. In a recent incident, a Virginia man died from cardiac arrest after officers shot him with their taser gun outside of a hospital emergency room. When officers attempted to remove the handcuffed suspect from the police vehicle at the emergency room, the 46 year old unarmed man kicked out the window of the patrol car and attempted to flee the scene. Officers used Taser guns to subdue the man, striking him several times. The man stopped breathing and died of cardiac arrest at the scene. The victim’s family is suing the Virginia police department for $25 million in damages.

A 2013 study conducted by Amnesty International reports there have been 540 deaths attributed to the use of a Taser gun by police across the U.S. since 2001. While skeptics challenge these findings, most will agree that the availability of Taser guns reduce the amount of incidents that police officers draw their firearms. A recent survey of 500 police departments across the country conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum found that most police officers are being properly trained on how and when to use the Taser guns, however, tighter and more uniform controls and policies justifying their use need to be implemented.

Training and Restraint are Key to Effective Implementation of Tasers

While many medical experts agree that the voltage of electricity fired by the taser gun is strong enough to increase the victim’s heart rate to a dangerous level and cause cardiac arrest, others blame pre-existing medical conditions on deaths related to Tasers. Statistical evidence exists to support the use of Tasers to ensure the safety of the public and police officers, but restrictions are advised. Pregnant women, children, elderly people and those with pre-existing cardiac conditions are most likely to suffer serious or fatal consequences from a Taser gun. Restraint and proper training on handling various forms of altercations without the use of force can help police officers use the device most effectively.

Philadelphia Police Brutality Lawyer, Patrick G. Geckle, Represents Victims of Police Brutality

If you or someone you know has been injured or killed as a result of the use of excessive force or misconduct by the police, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced and knowledgeable Philadelphia police brutality lawyers at the Law Offices of Patrick G. Geckle can help you claim justice and ensure that your legal rights are protected.

Contact us at 215-735-3326 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are located in Center City Philadelphia, allowing us to serve clients throughout Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County and Montgomery County.