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TASER Electronic Control Devices (ECDs) -- Legal Update


TASER Electronic Control Devices (ECDs)-- Legal Update Michael Brave, Esq., M.S., C.L.S.3, C.L.E.T., C.P.S., C.S.T. National Litigation Counsel, TASER International, Inc. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: TASER Electronic Control Devices (ECDs) -- Legal Update

TASER Electronic Control Devices (ECDs)
-- Legal Update
  • Michael Brave, Esq., M.S., C.L.S.3, C.L.E.T.,
    C.P.S., C.S.T.
  • National Litigation Counsel, TASER International,
  • President, LAAW International, Inc.

  • TASER International does not create, recommend,
    or endorse policy.
  • Keep up to date
  • Information overload
  • www.ecdlaw.info (owned by LAAW International,
  • www.ipicd.com or www.incustodydeath.com
  • Learn the science not the myths
  • Constitutional standards of force history
  • Understand actual legal standards

ECD Political or Actual Risks?
  • Media/Special Interest Group Risks?
  • Outcome vs. Process
  • Political correctness risks?
  • Politically motivated risks?
  • Ignorance risks?
  • Perceptual risks?
  • Actual risks (informed science/logic based)

What the Courts are Saying?
  • Torture?
  • How restrained is the person?
  • How passive is the person?
  • Member of special group?
  • Level of perceived risk from the person?
  • Lawful objective perceived threat (physical)
  • Warning lower threat necessary warning

Elevated ECD Application Risk Factors
  • Presence of flammable liquids/fumes or explosive
  • Elevated positions
  • Person operating moving vehicle or machinery
  • Person running (fleeing)
  • Pregnant female (fall)
  • Swimming pool or other body of water
  • Intentional ECD application to sensitive areas
  • Frail or infirm individual
  • Perceived risk of repeated ECD applications

Societal perceptions/concerns creating elevated
justification factors
  • Children
  • Seniors
  • Restrained subjects
  • Passive subjects who are being seized

Important URL Addresses
  • www.ecdlaw.info
  • Electronic Control Devices Legal Resources
  • www.ipicd.com or www.incustodydeath.com
  • Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Deaths
  • Especially the
  • Articles page
  • Books page
  • Calendar page
  • IPICD Sudden Death Symposium Nov. 28-30 Las Vegas

Consider the Consequences?
  • If You made statements, made decisions, or took
    actions against a person based upon the same
    level of ignorance (lack of knowledge),
    speculation, unsupported statements, lack of
    proof, lack of medical or scientific support,
    subject to misinterpretation, rumor, bias,
    innuendo, argument, etc. that some media, special
    interest groups, and a few medical examiners have
    recently used in ICD cases?
  • What would happen to

  • Should agency ECD standards be based on
  • Scientifically invalid/unreliable speculation?
  • Media hysteria and mis-reporting?
  • Unsupported special interest group accusations?
  • Studies based on inflated standards?
  • ME findings lacking ECD causation evidence?
  • Illogical statements?
  • Statements exhibiting logical fallacies?
  • Causal oversimplification fallacy?

Good Science on Top of Junk Science?
  • 2005 Causation speculations unsupported by
    scientific validity resulting in
    ultra-conservative guidelines.
  • Resulted in numerous conservative guidelines
  • June 14, 2005 Office of Police Complaint
  • June 28, 2005 - TASER Intl Training
  • August 22, 2005 - Canadian Police Research Center
  • August 2005 - IACP Model ECW Policy
  • October 2005 - IACP Conference (Miami, FL)
  • October 18-19, 2005 -PERF CED Guidelines
  • October 2006 - IACP Conference (Boston, MA)
  • Fall 2006 - FLETC Journal, Volume 4, Issue 2
  • 2007 - Police Quarterly 2007, 2007, 10 (2), p.
  • May 2007 AELE Monthly Law Journal (FLETC)

June 14, 2005 OPCC (BC) Published TASER
Technology Report
  • Respiratory Impairment/pH Changes in Multiple
    Applications Depending on probe location in the
    upper torso, it appears likely that the muscular
    tetany produced by a TASER deployment could
    impair a subject's respiration. ... emphasis

June 14, 2005 OPCC (BC) Published TASER
Technology Report
  • Training protocols, however, should reflect that
    multiple applications, particularly continuous
    cycling of the TASER for periods exceeding 15-20
    seconds, may increase the risk to the subject and
    should be avoided where practical.
  • OPCC Report,
    page 31. Emphasis added.

June 14, 2005 OPCC (BC) Published TASER
Technology Report
  • Thus, the OPCC Report used key adjectives
    including it appears likely, could, and
    may. These statements were speculative and not
    based on published objective peer reviewed human
    medical, scientific, or engineering research.

June 14, 2005 OPCC (BC) Published TASER
Technology Report
  • Also, note that with regard to a persons
    experiencing excited delirium on page 31 of the
    OPCC Report, it states
  • A single TASER application made before the
    subject has been exhausted, followed by a
    restraint technique that does not impair
    respiration may provide the optimum outcome. OPCC
    Report, page 32.

TASER Intl June 28, 2005
  • Repeated, prolonged, and/or continuous
    exposure(s) to the TASER electrical discharge may
    cause strong muscle contractions that may impair
    breathing and respiration, particularly when the
    probes are placed across the chest or diaphragm.
    Users should avoid prolonged, extended,
    uninterrupted discharges or extensive multiple
    discharges whenever practicable in order to
    minimize the potential for over-exertion of the
    subject or potential impairment of full ability
    to breathe over a protracted time period.

August 22, 2005 CEDs, Technical Report,
TR-01-02006, Canadian Police Research Centre
(CPRC Report)
  • The issue related to multiple CED applications
    and its impact on respiration, pH levels, and
    other associated physical effects, offers a
    plausible theory on the possible connection
    between deaths, CED use, and people exhibiting
    the symptoms of excited delirium.

  • CPRC Report, page 4. Emphasis added.

August 22, 2005 CEDs, Technical Report,
TR-01-02006, Canadian Police Research Centre
(CPRC Report)
  • Definitive research or evidence does not exist
    that implicates a causal relationship between the
    use of CEDs and death.
  • Existing studies indicate that the risk of
    cardiac harm to subjects from a CED is very low.
  • ED, although not a universally recognized medical
    condition, is gaining increasing acceptance as a
    main contributor to deaths proximal to CED use.

2007-2008 Research?
  • NIJ Study of In-Custody Deaths
  • PERF Study of Agency Policies
  • The question is If a study is now (2007) being
    conducted to determine when an agency will allow
    an ECD to be used (what standard), however, the
    agencies being studied conservatively inflated
    the level at which an ECD could be used because
    of scientifically invalid speculations, then will
    the current study results be inappropriately
    based upon the unscientifically inflated
    standards (2005)?

Some Basic Realities
  • 2005 to present The hysterical attacks!!!!!
  • Ignorance phobia bias negativity agenda
  • No scientifically reliable bases for ECD
  • (a few) ME and (some) Media Errors
  • Ignorance (lack of knowledge)
  • Lack of (even basic) understandings of
  • ECDs, electricity, force
  • Scientific method and scientific reliability
  • Standards of certainty
  • Logical analyses and logical fallacies
  • The costs Homicide or Undetermined?

To be an Expert?
  • What do you know?
  • Breadth and depth of knowledge?
  • Areas of knowledge and understanding?
  • A little knowledge can be VERY dangerous!
  • Ability to explain, put forth concepts?
  • Misperceptions can cost lives, careers
  • E.g. Just below deadly force.
  • 50,000 volts!
  • Intellectual integrity?

Primer/Review In-Custody DeathPrelude to Death
the Actual Causes
  • Hiding drugs by swallowing/ingesting
  • Acute drug abuse
  • Chronic drug abuse
  • Usually leading to neuro-chemistry changes
  • Polydrug toxicity
  • Long-term mental health problems
  • Neuroleptic drug imbalance
  • Over ingestion of drugs
  • Failure to take prescribed drugs (or abrupt
  • Self-inflicted injuries or death (e.g. suicide)

Primer/Review In-Custody Death A Victim
  • Deceased will likely be considered a Victim
  • Someone else is always at fault
  • Screams for a Victim
  • Family (inner circle)
  • Special Interest Groups (incl those with
  • Media
  • Rush to judgment regardless of the truth or
  • Sensationalism and hysteria
  • Need for controversial headline
  • Inaccuracies are the norm not the exception
  • Complex science and concepts only time for
    sound bites

Primer/Review In-Custody DeathPost Incident
  • Emotion rules over logic
  • Panic self protection
  • Criticism avoidance
  • Anger and rage
  • Knee-jerk (over) reactions (appeasements?)
  • The importance of deflecting blame

Primer/Review In-Custody DeathCausation
  • Often futile search for single mechanism
  • Disbelief, surprise, unexpected, or diversion
  • Ignorance (of numerous knowledge areas)
  • Conspiracies
  • PDPCT (Plaintiffs Deep Pocket Causation
  • He who has the deep pockets caused the death
  • He without deep pocket did not cause the harm
  • The victim is blameless

Primer/Review In-Custody DeathInvestigative
  • Need to understand science/standards
  • Need to understand issues/concepts
  • Need to collect and preserve scene
  • Need to accurately record incident
  • Need to collect all incident information
  • Need to collect medical histories
  • Need to collect drug and rehab histories
  • Need to timely collect deceased samples
  • Need to perform tests and analyses
  • Need to collect criminal histories

Primer/Review In-Custody DeathME/Coroner
Opinion Taken as Fact
  • Speculation Taken as Scientific Fact
  • Police/Device directly caused the death
  • P/D was a direct cause of the death
  • P/D was the contributory cause of the death
  • P/D was a contributory cause of the death
  • P/D was associated with the death
  • P/D was temporally tied to the death
  • P/D was listed as a descriptor to the death
  • P/D could not be ruled out

(A few) U.S. Medical Examiners
Why we are here?
  • Examples
  • - (IN) Borden
  • - (OH) Holcomb (Summit County ME)
  • - (OH) Hyde (Summit County ME)

Example (IN) James BordenInvestigative
  • Cause of Death
  • Consistent with cardiac dysrhythmia
  • Secondary to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy,
  • pharmacologic intoxication,
  • and electrical shock

Example (IN) James Borden
  • Excerpt from CBS Evening News with Dan Rather
    Eye on America Investigation Stun Gun Safety
    which aired on July 26, 2004
  • Dr Roland M. Kohr This is the straw that broke
    the camels back The application of the TASER, I
    believe, was the trigger factor or the stressful
    event which stressed an already damaged heart to
    the point where it went into cardiac arrest.
  • Wyatt Andrews The TASER is what triggered his
    heart attack
  • Dr. Kohr Definitely.

Example (IN) James Borden
  • Excerpt from CBS Early Show Report that aired on
    October 12, 2004
  • Dr. Roland M. Kohr "This is the straw that broke
    the camel's back... The application of the
    TASER, I believe, was the trigger factor or the
    stressful event that caused an elevation of blood
    pressure and an elevation in heart rate which
    stressed an already damaged heart to the point
    where it went into cardiac arrest."

Example (IN) James Borden
  • Kohrs deposition March 3, 2005
  • Page 192 Line 8 to Page 192 Line 15
  • Q So if someone were to say that the Taser
    definitely caused, was a contributory cause of
    Mr. Borden's death, there would be no scientific,
    medical, or forensic basis to make that strong of
    an assertion, correct?
  • A Correct.
  • Q That would be a reckless statement?
  • A In my opinion, yes.
  • Page 389 Line 2 to Page 389 Line 5
  • Q You were asked by CBS News whether Taser was
    the triggering event that caused Mr. Borden's
    death, and you answered "Definitely," correct?
  • A Correct.

Example (IN) James BordenLegal Consequences
  • Deputy David Shaw 2 Felony Counts
  • Law Enforcement Intense scrutiny/criticism
  • Society avalanche of anti-ECD criticism
  • How many officers were injured?
  • How many suspects needlessly injured?
  • How many lives/careers irreparably harmed?
  • TASER Intl Borden snowballed into a multi-year
    litigation avalanche

Example (OH) Holcomb
  • Cause of Death Cardiac arrhythmia.
  • Due to Drug induced psychosis.
  • Due to (methamphetamine and MDMA/MDA0
    intoxication, acute.
  • Contributory conditions Electrical pulse
  • Manner of Death HOMICIDE Used drugs Sudden
    death incurred during restraint.

Example (OH) Holcomb
  • July 25, 2005 ME's Media Release
  • ... In summary Mr. Holcomb died from the effects
    of methamphetamine and ecstasy which sensitized
    his heart to the effects of the TASER equipment
    that was required to subdue him. But for the drug
    intoxication, the use of the TASER would not have
    resulted in death.
  • (emphasis added)

Example (OH) Holcomb
  • July 18, 2006 deposition of Dr. Dorothy Dean
  • Page 106
  • Q Let me make sure I get the question straight
    then. You're unable to tell us, to a reasonable
    degree of medical certainty, the mechanism by
    which you believe, to some extent, electrical
    impulse is delivered by the Taser contributed
    to his death, correct?
  • A That's correct, I cannot tell you.

Example (OH) Holcomb
  • Page 170
  • Q And so the temporal proximity is the fact upon
    which you rely to link the Taser to Mr. Holcomb's
    death, correct?
  • A Yes.

Example (OH) Holcomb
  • Page 188
  • Q You indicated, in response to counsel's
    question, that you believe the Taser device
    contributed in some way. I think you've
    acknowledged that that "in some way" could be as
    low as .00000000001 percent?
  • A Yes.

Example (OH) Holcomb
  • Page 5
  • Q If an event happens first and then a second
    event occurs some time after the first event, do
    you agree that that does not necessarily mean
    that the second event was caused by the first
  • A Yes.

(OH) Hyde
  • January 5, 2005
  • Death of Dennis S. Hyde
  • Summit County (OH) Medical Examiner
  • Cause of Death Probable cardiac arrhythmia
  • Due to Acute methamphetamine intoxication and
    electrical pulse incapacitation.
  • Contributing conditions Psychiatric disorder
    with agitated behavior Blood loss by rterial
  • Manner of Death HOMICIDE Sudden death occurred
    during restraint.

(OH) Hyde
  • June 1, 2007
  • Deposition of George C. Sterbenz, M.D.
  • Dennis Hyde death case
  • P 168
  • Q ...And you do not contend that the TASER
    application was greater than even one billionth
    of a percent of the cause of Dennis Hyde's death
    because it's an indeterminate contribution,
  • A That's correct

(OH) Hyde
  • Pg 170
  • Q You've said that the percentage of TASER
    ECD contribution to death could be as little as
    a billionth of a percent. It could be even
    smaller than that, true?
  • A True.
  • Q ... And as you sit here today, do you have an
    opinion, to a reasonable degree of medical
    certainty, as to how the TASER device actually
    contributed in any way to Mr. Hyde's death?
  • A No. I don't.

(OH) Hyde
  • Inflicted Force vs. Therapeutic Force?
  • Cause of death (to RDMP)?
  • Inflicted Force Contribution to death?
  • Manner of Death
  • Homicide,
  • Accident, or
  • Undetermined?
  • What it means to involved officers?

Putting It Into Perspective
  • The Litigation Landscape
  • Plaintiffs attempts to support speculations
    without scientific basis or support

Plaintiffs House of Cards
  • Electricaphobia! -- irrational fear of
  • All Electricity is the Same! And, its
    DANGEROUS!!!!! (ball example)
  • Negative Inferences and Innuendo
  • Abbreviated Facts Negative Spin
  • Sky is falling - Single Incident Equates to Broad
  • Inappropriate Attempts at Correlations
  • Stretching Causation to the Breaking Point
  • Negative Emotion is more important than
    scientific proof
  • Attempting to force defense to disprove the
  • Blame Shifting - Always someone elses fault
    (Plaintiff Victim)
  • Causation by Deep Pocket Analysis
  • Just because I sued you you should give me

Scientific Method v. Common Sense
  • Scientific Method
  • Assessment of relevant existing knowledge of a
  • Formulation of concepts and propositions
  • Statement of hypotheses or answer research
  • Design research
  • Acquire meaningful empirical data or observation
  • Analysis evaluation of data
  • Proposal of explanation of the phenomenon
    statement(s) of new problems
  • Common Sense
  • Observation non-scientific
  • Bias ( and -)
  • Self interests
  • View Filtered glasses
  • Circle of Protection
  • In Circle can do no wrong
  • Fault anyone outside circle
  • No sampling
  • Cause Effect based upon the observation
  • Erroneous Conclusions
  • The World is Flat

Acquiring Knowledge
  • Science A process that combines the principles
    of rationalism with the process of empiricism,
    using rationalism to develop theories and
    empiricism to test the theories
  • Empiricism gaining knowledge through
  • Rationalism developing valid ideas using
    existing ideas and principles of logic (cows are
    black, this is a cow, this cow is black)
  • Mystical knowledge from the gods, prophets, and
    supernatural authorities
  • Authority accept the idea because it comes from
    a respected source
  • Intuition e.g. hunches, gut feelings, accept
    ideas because they feel true
  • Tenacity accepting ideas as knowledge because
    they have been around for a long time

Scientific Method Sequential Steps
  • Publication
  • Communication phase write a report
  • Interpretation phase interpret the data
  • Data analysis phase analyze the data
  • Methodology - Procedures designed to test the
    hypothesis or answer research questions
  • Problem definition phase
  • Idea generation phase (observe then ask

Consider -- Where on the scale(s)?
  • Scientific Standards
  • (Scientific Certainty)
  • Law
  • Theory
  • Model, Paradigm
  • Constructs (Concept)
  • Inference
  • Observation
  • Idea (Thought)
  • Speculation
  • Legal Standards - Proof
  • Beyond Any Doubt
  • --------------------------------------------------
  • 95 Beyond Reasonable Doubt
  • 75 Clear Convincing
  • 51 By a Preponderance
  • More likely than not
  • 49 Probable Cause
  • 35 Reasonable Suspicion
  • --------------------------------------------------
  • Mere Suspicion
  • Hunch
  • Random
  • Wishful Thinking
  • Begging

Legal Standards of Care
  • Wilful Wanton
  • Purposeful
  • Intentional
  • Knowingly
  • Reckless Disregard
  • Deliberately
  • Deliberate Indifference
  • Gross Negligence
  • Negligence
  • Carelessly
  • Due Regard
  • Strict Liability

Common Words Frequency or Foreseeability
  • "Absolute" - without exception, law
  • "Always" - at all times
  • Certain a fact that is true or an event that
    is definitely going to take place
  • "Frequent" - ordinary, common
  • Probable almost certainty, as far as one
    knows or can tell
  • Likely - probable or as likely as not
  • Unusual - not habitually or commonly occurring
  • "Maybe"- perhaps, possibly, perchance
  • "Unlikely" not likely, improbable, has little
    chance of being the case or coming about
  • Freak a very unusual and unexpected event
  • Unexpected - not likely to happen
  • "Rare" - uncommon, infrequent, occurring very
  • "Could" - may , might, have the possibility
  • "Conceivable" - capable of being imagine or
  • "Plausible" - seeming reasonable or probable,
    appearing to merit belief or acceptance
  • Conjecture - an opinion or conclusion based on
    incomplete information a guess
  • Guess - suppose (something) without sufficient
    information to be sure of being correct
  • Speculation - based on conjecture rather than
  • "Never" - not ever

TASER X26 Electrical Characteristics
  • Waveform
  • Pulse Rate
  • Pulse Duration
  • Voltage - peak open circuit
  • Voltage - peak loaded
  • Current - average
  • Energy Per Pulse - nominal
  • Energy Per Pulse - delivered
  • Main Phase Delivered Charge
  • Power Rating nominal
  • Power Rating -- delivered
  • Power Source
  • No. of discharges - battery
  • Complex Shaped Pulse
  • 19 PPS (pulses per second)
  • 100 µs (microseconds)
  • 50,000 volts
  • 1200 volts
  • 0.0021 amperes
  • 0.36 joules
  • 0.07 joules
  • 100 µC (microcoulombs)
  • 7 watts at main capacitor
  • 1.3 watts delivered
  • Two three-volt cells
  • 195 five-second discharges

  • What powers a TASER X26?
  • Setting the baseline
  • How many photo flashes from cells?
  • How many digital photos from cells?
  • The TASER X26
  • How many pulses per second?
  • How many seconds when trigger pulled?
  • How many pulses per 5 second trigger pull?
  • How many 5 second discharges per battery?

  • 10,000 sheet stack of copy paper
  • Represents one second of time
  • Wall outlet electricity full 10,000 sheets
  • TASER X26 100 µs pulse (one piece of paper)
  • 19 pulses (per second) 19 pieces of paper
  • 5 s 50,000 sheets of paper (X26 95 sheets)
  • M26 25,000 or 100,000 pieces of paper

TASER International, Inc.ECD Basic Liability
Lawsuits Product Liability vs. UOF
  • TASER International - Product Liability Issues
  • Product Defect (defective product)
  • Strict Liability (risk utility analyses)
  • Mis-represenation (lied about product)
  • Failure to Warn (failed to warn of dangers)
  • Law Enforcement - Officer or Agency Issues
  • Excessive Force (federal and/or state)
  • Supervision, Training, Entrustment, Policy

Lawsuits TASER InternationalProduct Liability
  • In order to prevail, a plaintiff must prove
  • Product is defective
  • The defect caused the injury or death
  • To date
  • No court has ruled that a TASER device was
  • No court has ruled that a TASER device defect
    caused a death or injury
  • No court has ruled that TASER International has

Are TASER Devices Risk Free?No.
TASER InternationalLitigation Update
TASER Litigation Update
  • 3 Types of Cases
  • Death following TASER ECD presence
  • Suspect injuries (blamed on TASER ECD)
  • Officers injured during training (exposures)
  • What we are seeing in these cases (Plfs)
  • Very long complaints based on media
  • Little substance
  • Endless stalling/time extensions
  • Unable to find experts

TASER LitigationUse of Experts
  • Experts VERY important!!!!
  • -- Certain subjects can be very complicated we
    need to have those best qualified to express
    opinions reviewing these files/incidents.
  • We have retained some of the premier experts in
    various scientific fields
  • Call us we are happy to assist in locating

TASER LitigationCase Strategies
Case Strategies
  • Strong defense
  • Bring out the facts not the rhetoric
  • Get beyond the rumors, myths, media
  • Over 150,000 pages of documentation
  • TASER ECDs are well proven

How TASER International Can Help You With Your
How TASER Intl Can Help You
  • Information
  • Scientific Medical Information
  • Department Statistics
  • Disproving Myths, Rumors, Misinformation
  • Guidance on Defense Experts
  • Information on Plaintiffs Experts
  • Simply Answering Your Questions

Basic Legal ConceptsLaw Enforcement Use of Force
Law Enforcement Liabilities
  • Third-Party Liability
  • Workers Compensation
  • Employment Practices Liabilities
  • Criminal Culpabilities
  • Public Scrutiny
  • Special-Interest Group Scrutiny
  • Numerous Others

Sudden In-Custody DeathsCauses of Action
  • Officers present
  • Constitutional use-of-force issues
  • Constitutional seizure, detention, incarceration
  • State medical or mental emergency
  • Shall vs. May
  • Degree of certainty required for action?
  • Necessity for prior authorization(s)?
  • Constitutional medical care/attention
  • Liability to intervene for another officers

Basic Concepts
  • How much force is acceptable?
  • ----------The Most Simplistic Answer
  • A law enforcement officer may use that amount of
    force upon a person that the law allows. A law
    enforcement officer may not use more force upon a
    person than the law allows.

Basic Concepts
  • You must have an acceptable legal basis
    (justification) for everything that you do that
    negatively impacts a person and/or his/her

Basic Concepts
  • Just because the law allows you to use force,
    does not automatically mean that using the force
    is the most prudent course of action.

Basic Concepts
  • There are consequences to adopting use-of-force
    standards that are more restrictive than the
    legal standards.

Basic Concepts
  • The Fourth Amendment addresses misuse of
    power, not the accidental effects of otherwise
    lawful conduct.
  • Brower v. County of Inyo, 489 U.S. 593, 596
    (1989) Milstead v. Kibler, 243 F.3d 157 (4th
    Cir. 2001).

Basic Concepts
  • Our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has long
    recognized that the right to make an arrest or
    investigatory stop necessarily carries with it
    the right to use some degree of physical coercion
    or threat thereof to effect it.
  • Graham v. Conner, 490 U.S. 386, 396 (1989).

Basic Concepts
  • ... The test of reasonableness under the
    Fourth Amendment is not capable of precise
    definition or mechanical application ...
  • Graham v. Conner, 490 U.S. 386, 396 (1989),
    citing Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 559 (1979).

Basic Concepts4th Amendment Deadly Force
  • Almost every use of force, however minute, poses
    some risk of death. Garrett v. Athens-Clarke
    County, 378 F.3d 1274, 1280, n.12 (11th Cir.

Basic Concepts
  • Distinctions Force Standards
  • Abuse of authority standards
  • Self defense standards
  • Risk management analyses

Basic ECD Intro
  • What happened in 2005?
  • Up/Down continuum (speculation, not science)
  • Criminal
  • (IN) Borden Deputy David Shaw
  • (VA) Sgt. Ryan Hood

Police Executive Research Forum - ECD
  • October 18-19, 2005
  • (02/24/07) Conducted Energy Devices Development
    of Standards for Consistency and Guidance, The
    Creation of National CED Policy and Training
    Guidelines, by James M. Cronin and Joshua A.
    Ederheimer. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of
    Community Oriented Policing Services.

PERF GuidelinesOctober 18-19, 2005
  • 1. CEDs should only be used against persons who
    are actively resisting or exhibiting active
    aggression, or to prevent individuals from
    harming themselves or others. CEDs should not be
    used against a passive suspect.

PERF GuidelinesOctober 18-19, 2005
  • "Active Aggression - A threat or overt act of an
    assault (through physical or verbal means),
    coupled with the present ability to carry out the
    threat or assault, which reasonably indicates
    that an assault or injury to any person is
  • "Actively Resisting - Physically evasive
    movements to defeat an officer's attempt to
    control, including bracing, tensing, pushing, or
    verbally signaling an intention to avoid or
    prevent being taken into or retained in custody."

PERF GuidelinesOctober 18-19, 2005
  • 6. That a subject is fleeing should not be the
    sole justification for police use of a CED.
    Severity of offense and other circumstances
    should be considered before officers use of a
    CED on the fleeing subject.

PERF GuidelinesOctober 18-19, 2005
  • 7. CEDs should not generally be used against
    pregnant women, elderly persons, young children,
    and visibly frail persons unless exigent
    circumstances exist.

PERF GuidelinesOctober 18-19, 2005
  • 8. CEDs should not be used on handcuffed persons
    unless they are actively resisting or exhibiting
    active aggression, and/or to prevent individuals
    from harming themselves or others.

TASER CASESLaw Enforcement Force Cases
TASER ECD Weapons Confusion Cases - firearm used
when ECD intended
  • Henry v. Purnell, 428 F.Supp.2d 393 (D.Md. April
    21, 2006). Henry v. Purnell, 119 Fed.Appx. 441
    (4th Cir. (Md.) 2005). Date of incident - October
    20, 2003.
  • Christofar Atak v. City of Rochester, et. al.,
    USDC Minn., Case No. 04-2720 DSD/SRN.
  • Torres v. City of Madera, Not Reported in
    F.Supp.2d, 2005 WL 1683736 (E.D.Cal. 2005).

TASER ECD Weapons Confusion Cases - firearm used
when ECD intended
  • Yount v. City of Sacramento, 35 Cal.Rptr.3d 563,
    Cal.App. 3 Dist. (Nov. 9, 2005) - Arrestee's
    conviction for obstructing an officer did not bar
    his federal civil rights lawsuit for excessive
    force by an officer who shot him in the buttocks
    with his firearm while the officer intended to
    draw and fire his TASER device instead. Petition
    for review granted Yount v. City of Sacramento,
    129 P.3d 320, 40 Cal.Rptr.3d 118 (Feb 01, 2006).
  • (Thursday) June 22, 2006 -- Kitsap County (WA)
    Sheriff's Office - deputy shot and wounded a man
    in a tree when she used a gun instead of a TASER
    device. The man had climbed high up a fig tree
    and had been there for several hours. Deputies
    were unsure whether the man was intoxicated, on
    drugs, or possibly experiencing a psychotic
    episode. One deputy attempted to discharge a
    TASER device at the man, but when it did not work
    asked another deputy to fire a TASER device.
    Instead of grabbing the TASER device, the deputy
    grabbed and fired her gun.

Use of firearm when confronted by suspect armed
with ECD
  • Use of firearm deadly force not unreasonable
    against handcuffed (in front) person threatening
    officers with ECD (in drive stun) very narrow
    holding. Henderson v. Inabinett, 2006 WL 2547435
    (M.D.Ala. Sep 01, 2006).
  • Daniel Rocha incident in Austin, Texas. Officer
    believed that Rocha had her TASER ECD and was
    about to use it on her Sergeant.

Accidental ECD discharge
  • Officer accidentally discharged TASER device on
    his daughter Williams v. City of Daytona Beach,
    Slip Copy, 2006 WL 354635, M.D.Fla. (Feb. 15,
  • Recent incident of officer accidentally
    discharging ECD into daughters eye.

Threat of ECD device gains compliance
  • Threat of TASER device on its way gains
    compliance. U.S. v. Yandal, Slip Copy, 2006 WL
    517608 (W.D.Ky. March 1, 2006)
  • Threat of TASER device - 17 year old burglar
    comes out of attic. In re J.D., 275 Ga.App. 147,
    619 S.E.2d 818 (Ga.App. 2005)
  • Rattling of electricity from TASER device
    causes fleeing man to surrender. People v. Young,
    Not Reported in Cal.Rptr.3d, 2006 WL 1688992
    (Cal.App. 2 Dist. June 21, 2006)
  • Firearm pointing does not gain compliance - TASER
    device does. U.S. v. Ackerman, Slip Copy, 2006 WL
    224028, M.D.Fla. (Jan. 30, 2006)
  • Pointing TASER device gains compliance. In re
    Francisco B., 2005 WL 2856335 (Cal.App. 5 Dist.
    Nov 01, 2005)

Threat of ECD use without submission is not a
  • Drawing and pointing ECD (on 58 year old man who
    had heart surgery 2 months prior) where suspect
    did not submit is not a seizure. Policky v. City
    of Seward (NE), 433 F.Supp.2d 1013 (D.Neb. May
    25, 2006)

Threat ECD use with submission /compliance is a
4th Amendment Seizure
  • Threat with TASER device causing compliance is a
    4th Amendment seizure. Pino v. City of
    Sacramento, Slip Copy, 2006 WL 193181, E.D.Cal.
    (Jan. 19, 2006)

Passive or Active Resistance
  • Qualified immunity for officer, use of TASER ECD
    to force man to release grip on basketball pole.
    Issue of passive resistance discussed - Eighth
    Circuit law draws no distinction between active
    or passive resistance in resisting a police
    officer's requests. Schumacher v. Halverson, ---
    F.Supp.2d ----, 2006 WL 3740804 (D.Minn. December
    15, 2006)

Use of ECD on a belligerent person
  • Use of TASER ECD on belligerent driver
    appropriate Draper v. Reynolds, 369 F.3d 1270
    (11th Cir. 2004)
  • Summary Judgment Granted to Officers - Car Stop -
    3 TASER devices uses on belligerent driver,
    including 2 while handcuffed Willkomm v. Mayer
    (WI Dells), USDC W.D. WI (Slip Copy 2006 WL
    582044) March 9, 2006

  • TASER device to neck used to remove man from car.
    Warren v. State of Maryland, 164 Md.App. 153, 882
    A.2d 934 (Md.App. 2005)
  • Summary judgment granted on officers use of
    TASER device on man suffering a hypoglycemic
    (diabetic) attack. Gruver v. Borough of Carlisle,
    Slip Copy, 2006 WL 1410816 (M.D.Pa. May 19, 2006)

Community Care Taker Function
  • "Community Care Taker" Function officer's use of
    TASER ECD on resisting person in medical distress
    in ambulance - Summary Judgment granted to
    defendants - Stanley v. City of Baytown, Texas,
    Slip Copy, 2005 WL 2757370 (S.D.Tex.), No. Civ.A.
    H-04-2106, U.S. Dist. Ct, S.D. Texas, Houston
    Division, decided Oct. 25, 2005

Use of ECD to stop fleeing arrestee
  • Summary judgment granted to defendants on
    officers use of TASER device on fleeing
    arrestee. U.S. ex rel. Thompson v. Village of
    Spring Valley, N.Y., Slip Copy, 2006 WL 1889912
    (S.D.N.Y. July 10, 2006)
  • Summary judgment granted for TASER device use -
    resisted arrest, attempted to flee. Court gave a
    use-of-force risk management analysis (dart to
    top of head). Wylie v. Overby, Slip Copy, 2006 WL
    1007643, E.D.Mich. (April 14, 2006)

ECD use threatening, resisting
  • TASER device used to control threatening man.
    People v. Powers, Not Reported in Cal.Rptr.3d,
    2006 WL 1737353, (Cal.App. 2 Dist. June 27, 2006)
  • TASER device used to gain control of resisting
    man. Shouse v. State, 849 N.E.2d 650 (Ind.App.
    June 20, 2006)
  • TASER device used to capture struggling,
    resisting escapee. State v. Farrar, 631 S.E.2d 48
    (N.C.App. June 20, 2006)

  • Summary judgment (qualified immunity) granted to
    defendants when TASER device was used on a 14
    year old female fighting on school property.
    Maiorano ex rel. Maiorano v. Santiago, Slip Copy,
    2006 WL 2024951 (M.D.Fla. July 15, 2006)
  • (Two) TASER device discharges stops fleeing man.
    U.S. v. Stephens, Slip Copy, 2006 WL 1663351
    (E.D.Mo. June 14, 2006

Raise hands threat or surrender
  • Defendants motion for summary judgment denied due
    to genuine issues of material fact (1) raised
    his hands with his fingers spread apart in a
    gesture of surrender or raised them in a
    threatening manner, and (2) TASER probe removal
    that left scars is controverted de minimis.
    Fletcher v. Schwend, Slip Copy, 2006 WL 1867890
    (N.D.Tex. July 6, 2006)

  • Qualified immunity granted to officers use of
    TASER device on kicking handcuffed arrestee.
    Carroll v. County of Trumbull, Slip Opinion, 2006
    WL 1134206 (N.D.Ohio April 25, 2006)
  • The appellate court held that the use of a stun
    gun to subdue man who was resisting arrest by
    kicking and biting was an appropriate use of
    force. Hinton v. City of Elwood, 997 F.2d 774
    (10th Cir.(Kan.) 1993)

ECD use on knife wielding man when no longer a
  • Officer entitled to qualified immunity despite
    his using TASER ECD multiple times on
    knife-wielding suspect who was no longer an
    immediate threat noting that officer's "actions
    were intended to avoid having to resort to lethal
    force." Russo upheld a Taser use to avoid having
    to resort to lethal force where a lack of
    training in dealing with mentally ill may have
    caused shooting death of known paranoid
    schizophrenic. Russo v. Cincinnati, 953 F.2d 1036
    (6th Cir. 1992)

Potentially homicidal individual
  • Use of ECD to subdue a potentially homicidal
    individual did not transgress clearly established
    law. The court further held that the use of ECD
    against an armed and volatile suspect does not
    constitute excessive force and concluded that the
    defendant police officers are entitled to
    qualified immunity on the Plaintiffs excessive
    use of force claim. Ewolski v. City of Brunswick,
    287 F.3d 492 (6th Cir. (Ohio) 2002)

Use of ECD to avoid use of deadly force
  • The court affirmed Russo v. Cincinnati which held
    that the taser, which was deployed in an effort
    to obviate the need for lethal force, did not
    violate clearly established law. Nicholson v.
    Kent County Sheriff's Dept., 839 F.Supp. 508
    (W.D.Mich. 1993)

  • TASER device use prevents need to use deadly
    force. State of Ohio v. Gentry, Slip Copy,
    2006 WL 1461030 (Ohio App. 2 Dist. May 19, 2006)
  • TASER device used to stop resisting suspect from
    reaching for gun on the ground. People v.
    Villegas, Not Reported in Cal.Rptr.3d, 2006 WL
    1992407 (Cal.App. 4 Dist. July 18, 2006)

ECD used on suspect with firearm
  • TASER device used to apprehend fleeing suspect
    armed with firearm. U.S. v. Stephens, Slip Copy,
    2006 WL 2009066 (M.D.Ala. July 18, 2006)

Use of an ECD on a juvenile
  • Threat of TASER device - 17 year old burglar
    comes out of attic In re J.D., 275 Ga.App. 147,
    619 S.E.2d 818 (Ga.App. 2005)
  • Pointing TASER device gains compliance In re
    Francisco B., 2005 WL 2856335 (Cal.App. 5 Dist.
    Nov 01, 2005) (NO. F048025)
  • Summary judgment granted to officers who used a
    ECD on handcuffed, struggling, resisting 14 year
    old male. Johnson ex rel. Smith v. City of
    Lincoln Park, 434 F.Supp.2d 467 (E.D.Mich. June
    8, 2006)

Use of an ECD on a juvenile
  • Summary judgment (qualified immunity) granted to
    defendants when TASER device was used on a 14
    year old female fighting on school property.
    Maiorano ex rel. Maiorano v. Santiago, Slip Copy,
    2006 WL 2024951 (M.D.Fla. July 15, 2006)
  • Summary judgment granted Use of TASER device on
    suicidal 16 year old male juvenile N.A. ex rel.
    Ainsworth v. Inabinett, 2006 WL 2709850 (M.D.Ala.
    Sep 20, 2006) (NO. 205 CV 740 DRB)

Use of an ECD to prevent swallowing drugs
  • Florida v. Damion Terrell Johnson, In the Circuit
    Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit, in and for
    Orange County, Florida, Case No.
    48-2003-CF-015024-0, Division 17. Court did not
    suppress evidence
  • US v. Jason Malone, United States District Court,
    Central District of Illinois, Peoria Division,
    Case No. 05-10012. Court did not suppress evidence

Use of ECD on a handcuffed person
  • No objectively reasonable officer would have
    thought that striking, kicking, dragging, choking
    and repeatedly using a ECD against a
    non-resisting, fully compliant citizen would
    constitute either "reasonable force in light of
    the facts and circumstances" or "a good faith
    effort to maintain or restore discipline."
    Qualified immunity denied officers for excessive
    force during multi-hour mental health detention
    transport. Batiste v. City of Beaumont, 421
    F.Supp.2d 1000 (E.D.Tex. March 10, 2006). Case

Use of ECD on a handcuffed person
  • Summary judgment granted to officers who used a
    ECD on handcuffed, struggling, resisting 14 year
    old male. Johnson ex rel. Smith v. City of
    Lincoln Park, 434 F.Supp.2d 467 (E.D.Mich. June
    8, 2006)
  • Qualified immunity granted to officers use of
    TASER device on kicking handcuffed arrestee.
    Carroll v. County of Trumbull, Slip Opinion, 2006
    WL 1134206 (N.D.Ohio April 25, 2006)
  • Summary Judgment Granted to Officers - Car Stop -
    3 TASER devices uses on belligerent driver,
    including 2 while handcuffed. Willkomm v. Mayer
    (WI Dells), USDC W.D. WI (Slip Copy 2006 WL
    582044) March 9, 2006
  • Summary judgment granted use of TASER device in
    drive stun on handcuffed resisting arrestee.
    Devoe v. Rebant, Slip Copy, 2006 WL 334297,
    E.D.Mich. (Feb 13, 2006)

ECD on Person in Restraint Chair
  • Restraint Chair - Use of TASER Device on Neck -
    Summary Judgment Granted McBride v. Clark, USDC
    W.D. MO (Slip Copy 2006 WL 581139) March 8, 2006

5th/14th Amendment - use of ECD on a pre-trial
  • Summary judgment granted for threat to use TASER
    device (laser dot compliance). Price v. Busbee,
    Slip Copy, 2006 WL 435670 (M.D.Ga. February 21,

8th Amendment - use of ECD on convicted/incarcerat
ed person
  • The district court held that taser guns may be
    reasonably used to quell disorders and to compel
    obedience, but they cannot be used to punish a
    prisoner. Hernandez v. Terhume, Not Reported in
    F.Supp.2d, 2000 WL 1847645 (N.D.Cal. 2000)
  • The only conduct of the plaintiff was his adamant
    refusal to comply with the order. He did not
    present any threat of physical violence. The
    device was used to shock him three times while he
    was on the ground and obviously incapacitated.
    Officers motion for summary judgment denied.
    Preston v. Pavlushkin, Slip Copy, 2006 WL 686481
    (D.Colo. March 16, 2006)

8th Amendment - use of ECD on convicted/incarcerat
ed person
  • The court held that prison officials are entitled
    to use physical force, including devices such as
    tasers, to compel obedience by inmates. Drummer
    v. Luttrell. 75 F.Supp.2d 796 (W.D.Tenn. 1999)
  • Court affirmed Michenfelder v. Sumner where 9th
    Circuit held that ECDs are not per se
    unconstitutional as long as they are "used to
    enforce compliance with an order that had a
    reasonable security purpose. The legitimate
    intended result of a shooting is incapacitation
    of a dangerous person, not the infliction of
    pain. Parker v. Asher, 701 F.Supp. 192 (D.Nev.

8th Amendment - use of ECD on convicted/incarcerat
ed person
  • The appellate court upheld the holding of the
    district court which concluded that the
    correctional officers used taser weapons in a
    good faith effort to maintain and restore
    discipline after the inmate refused orders to be
    handcuffed before being moved from his cell.
    Jolivet v. Cook, 48 F.3d 1232 (Table) (10th Cir.
    (Utah) 1995)
  • The appellate court held that the use ECD was not
    cruel and unusual punishment and a policy of
    allowing use of ECDs on an inmate who refuses to
    submit to a strip search does not constitute
    cruel and unusual punishment., 860 F.2d 328 (9th
    Cir. (Nev.) 1988)

8th Amendment - use of ECD on convicted/incarcerat
ed person
  • Court affirmed Michenfelder v. Sumner where the
    court held that the threatened use of a taser to
    enforce compliance with a search had a reasonable
    security purpose and was not unconstitutional.
    Walker v. Sumner, 8 F.3d 33 (Table) (9th Cir.
    (Nev.) 1993)

ECD Training - Adequacy of Program
  • The court ruled that a police ECD training
    program consisting of approximately three (3) to
    four (4) hours was not inadequate training.
    Mateyko v. Felix, 924 F.2d 824 (9th Cir. (Cal.)
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