Today is Stop Taser Torture blogging for Justice Day.
I join this effort in solidarity with so many bloggers of all walks of life concerned about taser torture in America. Speaking of Taser Torture, now we learn from Raw Story, for at least the second time in three weeks, police officers have shocked an unruly 10-year-old child, and, once again, the child's adult guardians are supporting the move.
According to Raw Story Sheriff's deputies in Pueblo, Colorado, Tasered a 10-year-old boy after arriving at the child's home Monday evening, after the boy had threatened them with a stick and a length of pipe. As of Thursday evening, the boy remained in a youth jail, according to KCNC channel 4 in Denver. The deputies involved described the boy as an "out-of-control juvenile." The Colorado incident follows a similar case last month, when a 10-year-old girl in Ozark, Arkansas, was Tasered after kicking an approaching officer in the groin. In that case, the girl's mother had suggested to the officer that he use a Taser. More HERE
"A two-foot piece of pipe can do a lot of damage, I don't care who's swinging it," Daniel Bilby told KCNC. Bilby said the police could have done more harm to his foster son -- whose name is being withheld because of his age -- if they had tried to tackle him.
Capt. Jeff Teschner of the Pueblo County Sheriff's Department told the Pueblo Chieftain that the officers were justified in their use of force.
"They followed all policies and procedures. This was appropriate use of the Taser device," Teschner said.
The Chieftain reports:
The recent incidents of Taser use on children will likely spur debate on the ethical and safety issues involved in using conducted energy weapons on youths.
AAPP says: The problem is, it's not just kids that police are tasing, many police departments are using tasers to torture even nonviolent people who are often those who are incoherent, hallucinating, wheelchair bound, suicidal, unarmed, deaf, handcuffed, blind, pregnant, students, or just didnt move fast enough for an officers liking. Taser torture in America is continuously growing not only in volume, but in the level of how liberally, unwarrantedly, and excessively tasering is being used across the U.S and many other countries."
What can we do?
As reported by Amnesty International,Taser policy is most often a local issue. Individual law enforcement agencies – city and state policy, sheriff’s departments, and campus police -- decide if they are going to employ the weapons, and what rules will govern their use. You can help lobby your own city or town to suspend use of Tasers pending thorough safety research, or to limit their use to situations where they are an alternative to deadly force.
To improve your town’s Taser policy, you first need to establish the facts. If your city uses Tasers already, what policies are in place to govern its use? One place to start is writing to your police department to request information about how Tasers are employed and to get a copy of the use-of-force policy used by the police.
Use-of-force policies vary widely. Some departments allow the weapons to be used in cases of “passive resistance,” including when the individual is refusing to obey a verbal command. These policies allow for the weapons to be used in situations where, in many cases, no weapon would otherwise have been used (See the case of Darryl Turner, a 19 year old in North Carolina who died after being shocked by a Taser. He was not holding any weapon and had his hands by his side Case Study of Darryl Turner. Many departments authorize officers to employ the weapons when an individual is “actively resisting.” This is better, but still short of Amnesty International’s recommendation, given the unanswered safety questions with Tasers.
If you find that your town uses Tasers but does not require all of Amnesty International’s recommended policies on their use, you can work to get your local police to revise the use-of-force policy so that Tasers may only be used in more extreme circumstances. Amnesty International's list of recommendations to law enforcement agencies on Tasers.
Get the word out about Tasers in your city, gather public support, and work to convince your local authorities that it is within the interest of public safety to improve the policy on Tasers!
For a packet of further resources for campaigning on Tasers, please contact your AIUSA regional office Contact Information for Regional Offices
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