Monday, November 15, 2010

Tased: Three Circuits

"Spillcam" and "vuvuzela" may be the top words of 2010, but the word on many police departments' minds lately could very well be "Taser."

Last week alone, the Fourth and Seventh Circuits ruled against police, allowing suits stemming from deadly Taser incidents to go forward.

Also, in December, the Ninth Circuit sitting en banc will rehear two Taser cases that police originally won (not deadly incidents). In Seattle, a simple traffic stop for speeding escalated to tasing when the driver, a pregnant woman, refused to sign paperwork and leave her car. She thought that signing would admit guilt. In Maui, a teenager called police to report a physical altercation between her mother and stepfather. When the police arrived and attempted to arrest the man, the woman stood in front of him and did not move. Police tased her. The original Ninth Circuit panels found that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity, but the en banc decision remains to be seen.

Fourth Circuit-Article and order
Seventh Circuit-Article and opinion
Ninth Circuit-Rehearing notice
Ninth Circuit-Original opinion, Seattle
Ninth Circuit-Original opinion, Maui