Friday, September 21, 2007

Police Tasers Are A Jolting Experience Just Ask: Malaika Brooks, Leslie Donaldson, Emily Delafield's relatives or the Handcuffed Ohio Woman 2-21-08


Update. Police tasers are a jolting experience or a revolting experience depending upon who you ask. Malaika Brooks (eight months pregnant) was speeding while taking her son to school. She was stopped for a speeding ticket she didn't think she deserved. (Officer Juan Ornelas, testified he clocked Brooks' Dodge Intrepid doing 32 mph in a 20-mph school zone.) So when Seattle police officer (Juan Ornelas) presented the ticket to Malaika Brooks, she refused to sign it.This was apparently construed as resisting arrest. After Officer Donald Jones concluded this woman with the protruding stomach was resisting arrest, he tasered her delivering 50,000 volts to her thigh and then to her neck. "Probably the worst thing that ever happened to me," Brooks said.

Brooks was found guilty of not signing the ticket, but the Seattle Municipal Court jury could not determine whether she resisted arrest. A Public Defender, Lisa Daugaard argues that police use of Tasers is an example of "police overreaction." She elaborated, "It's pretty extraordinary that they should have used a Taser in this case." King County Sheriff's Sgt. Donald Davis counters that the use of force (taser) is a balancing act for law enforcement.

Brooks may file a civil lawsuit.

But King County sheriff's Sgt. Donald Davis, who works on the county's Taser policy, said the use of force is a balancing act for law enforcement.

Seattle has now adopted a new policy on Taser use that guides officers on how to deal with pregnant women, the very young, and the very old. The policy states, "the need to stop the behavior should clearly justify the potential for additional risks."

Brooks, testified that she believed she could accept a ticket without signing for it.

Officer Donald Jones also tried to persuade Brooks to sign the ticket. Supervisor, Sgt. Steve Daman authorized them to arrest Brooks. The officers struggled to get Brooks out of her car so Jones let her experience 50,000 volts.

Jones pressed the prongs of the taser against Brooks' thigh to no effect so he applied it twice to her neck. (Wonder if at this point she became a red neck girl?) She was then taken to the ground, handcuffed and brought into the station.

Brooks told jurors the officer also used the taser on her arm, and showed them a dark, brown burn to her thigh and a lump on her neck. Seattle fire medics confirmed that Brooks was pregnant and recommended evaluation at Harborview Medical Center. (Fortunately her daughter was born January 31st in good health.)

Davis answers the question,"Why use a Taser in a simple traffic stop? Well, the citizen has made it more of a problem. It's no longer a traffic stop. This is now a confrontation."

Leslie Donaldson

The Alachua County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant ( David Clark) apparently didn't know Leslie Donaldson was pregnant when he tasered her stomach. Leslie Donaldson was apparently trying to help break up a fight between neighborhood kids when the sheriff's deputy showed up. The deputy tasered one of the boys fighting then he tasered Donaldson because it appeared that "She raised her arm to the deputy. The deputy felt threatened like she was going to hit him potentially," said Alachua County Sheriff's Lieutenant David Clark.

Donaldson was arrested for battery. She says she still has the marks on her belly.

Ohio Woman

By now everyone has probably seen the disturbing video of the handcuffed woman being tasered numerous times by Warren police officer Rich Kovach outside the "Up The Creek" bar on September 2nd. After being handcuffed, the woman was trys to kick out the window of the Kozch's squad car and Kovach tasers her again. The video shows the woman distraught and begging for him to stop. Kovach removes the woman from his car and tasers her again.

Kovach is now on paid administrative leave. The suspect seen getting tasered pleaded not guilty to several charges, including assault, resisting arrest and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

Emily Delafield

Emily Delafield died shortly after being shocked 10 times with Taser guns during a confrontation with police. 56-year-old Emily Delafield's April 2006 death has apparently sparked a lawsuit against Green Cove Springs Police Department to court, according to a WJXT-TV . Apparently back in April 2006, a 911 call made to the Green Cove Springs, Delafield can apparently be heard telling a dispatcher that she believed she was in danger because her sister was going to harm her.

Officers found Delafield in a wheelchair, armed with two knives and a hammer. Delafield was not only wheelchair-bound, she apparently was know to be mentally ill (schizophrenic.) Family attorney Rick Alexander believes Delafield's death was preventable. She was apparently tasered ten times. According to a police report, it was only nine times for a total of 160 seconds by one officer and only one time by another officer for not more than five seconds!

Andrew Meyer

Update 10-26: Everyone with a t.v. or a computer knows that Andrew Meyer was tazered by University of Florida police during a question and answer session with John Kerry. "Don't taser me bro," U-tube was played all over the networks. Some had questioned the use of force in using the stun gun against student Andrew Meyer. An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has now concluded that the use of the taser in this case was appropriate. Surprise! Surprise!

Update 2-21-08 A new L.E.D. bright light which temporarily disables would be criminals may make tasers obsolete!

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I’ve been Tased…and it sucks. But it’s better than any of the alternatives…if used right.

What’s causing the big uproar, in my opinion, is knuckleheads misusing it. But I’d be willing to bet those same knuckleheads would misuse anything….including their office. They need to be run out of the profession.

That said, Don’t want to be Tased? Follow instructions and take disputes to the courtroom and not the street. That way, if you get Tased, you sue, win, and the stupid cop loses his job.

If you fight or resist in any manner, you’re on a fast track to a legit Tasing!

L.S.

Legal Pub said...

As a law enforcement officer, L.S., I think you are right on. Do not resist arrest and you are unlikely to be tasered.

On the other hand, in most states, traffic tickets are infractions. They are not even misdemeanors. Some police officers need to use better judgment and not use force on these infractions. If the traffic offender won't sign the ticket, write down her information, go to the prosecutor and get a warrant for her arrest. That is the system that our founding fathers and subsequent military heroes have fought and died to preserve.

Anonymous said...

What a collection of potential officer screw ups with Tasers!

Anonymous said...

True enough about the traffic tickets.

However, failure to accept and sign is a criminal offense. You’re under arrest, step out of the car, and place you hands behind your back. No? Going to resist and fight? Might just get Tased! Fight the cops=might get Tased. Not always….but it’s a risk you take.

Still beats a steel stick, pepper spray, or any of the alternatives. Force is an ugly option. No way around it….except not fighting!

L.S.

kyle said...

Don't they know a taser in time saves nine!

Kyle

ginger said...

I got tasered once and I did not need a perm for 8 weeks.


Ginger

Ms. Calabaza said...

I agree L.S. - "knuckleheads misusing it" sounds about right. . .

Ron said...

No offense to L.S. or other officers, but these examples bring to mind a question about the typical police officer's education and training. What is it? Are we expecting too much out of our police officers? After all, they have a really tough job and I know out here in California they are recruiting on radio and TV for officers, and I don't think the qualifications are very high.

Anonymous said...

I firmly agree the qualifications are a BIG issue. But this position must be placed into the overall context. And when it is, things begin to look dim.

I hate to say it….but much of it comes down to $$$$$$$s involved. The qualifications required and desired in law enforcement are so numerous that to require much depth in any of the desired skill sets in any one officer would be almost impossible….but it is attempted.

Just the physical requirements alone are such that many departments have completely abandoned all hope (we all know this) and just “take what they can get”. By the time you get done with credit rating, talking to girlfriends from high school, well above average reading and writing requirements, social skills, physical combat skills, analytical skills, educational skills, veracity requirements, etc….many departments just give up.

Cross reference all the desired skill sets with the raw numbers of people who have them and we have a problem in that there are few people who qualify. Take it a degree further and look at those who are willing to do the job, and keep doing it once they find out the actual working conditions, and we just don’t have enough good people available.

One way to significantly change the second problem of good people willing to do it is to pay considerably more. And many departments are. But this in itself creates problems as those department who can afford the officers they want are leaving little “left overs” for the other departments. It’s a plain mess.

Factor in the fact that citizens aren’t hitting up their representatives for “more professional” officers. Rather, they are demanding less spending. And you get what we have.

The citizens are complaining….and they should. But they need to complain to their elected officials and demand better officers. And accept the fact that this request is going to cost $$$. Lots of $$$$.

L.S.

jasper said...

Sorry L.S. but these cops are over the top. They are making a mountain out of a mole hill. Not every small offense deserves force or punishment before a trial.


Jasper

Anonymous said...

True enough….and as shown above and elsewhere….I agree when there is an abuse or misuse. But almost always the use is proper, within the law, and any risk is isolated within the zone created around the scofflaw.

For many minor offenses, such as barking dogs or traffic offensives, the law does not give authority to law enforcement to “lay hands on”. As such, simply accept and sign the citation and dispute it according to law and the cops CAN’T touch you (you’re right and the law agrees). However, refuse to comply with the law or want to hold court in the street…and they can and will.

Our law…not the cops….have decided that force is an option that WILL be used to bring a person before the courts or stop currently occurring illegal activities. That’s the law. Which is one reason that so many of these “Tasering incidents”…99 percent?... are cleared as “justified” and little seems to be changing. Wonder why?

I’m not saying your position is wrong…but I do wonder how far law and order will go if scofflaws can simply tell the law “no thanks” and walk away…but I am saying that if you disagree with what is happening work towards changing the law.

How about,
“Any person who feels that they should not have to comply with any law (traffic, bank robbery, criminal mischief?) they find inconvenient may simply refuse to comply and may, by showing the middle finger, indicate their desire to evoke the rights contained herein and walk away from any law enforcement action. Further, if any person is engaged in any activity they enjoy (rape, graffiti, auto theft?) and are given lawful commands to stop, they don’t have to and may continue enjoying their activity without law enforcement interference”?

Our law can often be an ass…but do we want it to be that much of an ass?

L.S.

Legal Pub said...

L.S. Great posts. Law enforcement is a necessary evil. Abuse of authority is rare but very much publicized when it occurs.

If you would like to have a story published by legal pub, email it to legalpub@legalpub.net and we will feature one of your stories.

Erin said...

I found these taser stories shocking!

Legal Pub said...

Andrew Meyer

Everyone with a t.v. or a computer knows that Andrew Meyer was tazered by University of Florida police during a question and answer session with John Kerry. "Don't taser me bro," U-tube was played all over the networks. Some had questioned the use of force in using the stun gun against student Andrew Meyer. An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has now concluded that the use of the taser in this case was appropriate. Surprise! Surprise!

Legal Pub said...

Andrew Meyer

Everyone with a t.v. or a computer knows that Andrew Meyer was tazered by University of Florida police during a question and answer session with John Kerry. "Don't taser me bro," U-tube was played all over the networks. Some had questioned the use of force in using the stun gun against student Andrew Meyer. An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has now concluded that the use of the taser in this case was appropriate. Surprise! Surprise!

M98Ranger said...

Police officers should have to inform you that "not signing the citation is an option, but I will arrest you if you choose that option.". Then the situations would have probably never gotten to the point that they did.

I am not stupid, ignorant maybe, but not stupid and I didn't realize that not signing a traffic violation was against the law. In my eyes, signing something is tatamount to saying "I acknowledge my fault". Unless a police was willing to explain the implications of signing the ticket how could I know any different? I think most of the tasings could have been avoided in that way.

Legal Pub said...

M98 Ranger, I am in agreement. A card which discloses the consequences (arrest) of failing to sign the ticket should be given after each stop.Then perhaps an intelligent decision could be made after weighing probable consequences.

Shevek said...

You are not required to sign a traffic ticket in every state- Utah is one, and an overzealous cop taserd a driver for just that- see my blog post

http://half-a-bubble.com/2008/01/19/utah-followup-beehive-state-patrolman-stings-driver-with-taser-gets-stung-with-lawsuit/

and enjoy the rest of the blog, too.

Legal Pub said...

Shevek, good point. Laws do very by state. However, one of our regular contributors, L.S. aka Lee is a police officer who counsels always follow the police officers instructions and you are less likely to get hurt.

Legal Pub said...

A new L.E.D. light is being tested which disables the individual. It is thought to be safer then the taser.

Anonymous said...

Don't taser me bro... restrain me like a man, mr. lazy policeman.

Karen said...

I firmly agree the qualifications are a BIG issue. But this position must be placed into the overall context. And when it is, things begin to look dim. I hate to say it….but much of it comes down to $$$$$$$s involved. The qualifications required and desired in law enforcement are so numerous that to require much depth in any of the desired skill sets in any one officer would be almost impossible….but it is attempted. Just the physical requirements alone are such that many departments have completely abandoned all hope (we all know this) and just “take what they can get”. By the time you get done with credit rating, talking to girlfriends from high school, well above average reading and writing requirements, social skills, physical combat skills, analytical skills, educational skills, veracity requirements, etc….many departments just give up. Cross reference all the desired skill sets with the raw numbers of people who have them and we have a problem in that there are few people who qualify. Take it a degree further and look at those who are willing to do the job, and keep doing it once they find out the actual working conditions, and we just don’t have enough good people available. One way to significantly change the second problem of good people willing to do it is to pay considerably more. And many departments are. But this in itself creates problems as those department who can afford the officers they want are leaving little “left overs” for the other departments. It’s a plain mess. Factor in the fact that citizens aren’t hitting up their representatives for “more professional” officers. Rather, they are demanding less spending. And you get what we have. The citizens are complaining….and they should. But they need to complain to their elected officials and demand better officers. And accept the fact that this request is going to cost $$$. Lots of $$$$. L.S.

Anonymous said...

Just taser your representatives until they spend the bucks on better trained officers.

Anonymous said...

Karen seems to be on point.

Legal Pub said...


Update 6-25-14: Are laws limiting the use of Tasers appropriate? As you may recall, Tasers are "electronic control weapons." Inspired by the 2012 Taser death of MacAdam Lee Mason in 2012, Police in Vermont now have stricter rules when using electronic stun guns under bill H.225, The bill requires a police oversight committee to develop a policy for how and when police should use Tasers. It also requires police to attend Taser additional training. Under the law, Tasers may only be used against subjects who exhibit active aggression or actively pose a risk of injury to others or themselves. Seems like a good law. However, should police have to also wear a camera when they carry Tasers? Tasers can be deadly!