Posted by Mary Ann Pekara | Posted in Personal Injury News
During confrontations with physically threatening combatants, police often enlist the aid of non-lethal weapons, including the popular Taser stun-gun.
As the use of Tasers becomes more widespread and accepted, police have begun using them in more situations. However common they may be, their use may still be considered excessive use of force, particularly when a grandmother is at the other end of the electrical jolt.
Recently, officers in two separate incidents used Tasers to subdue elderly grandmothers.
In the first and most shocking incident, policemen recently Tasered an 86-year-old disabled grandmother in Oklahoma. According to NewsOK.com, Lona Varner filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city of El Reno and the officers who were involved in the Taser incident.
While the officers’ actions seem like a clear example of police brutality, reports suggest that the policemen had a viable reason to subdue to the woman. Sources indicate that officers responded to a 911 call by Varner’s grandson saying the woman was suicidal.
When the police arrived in her bedroom, Varner allegedly raised a knife over her head and threatened to kill the officers if they came any closer. Fearing that she posed an imminent threat, one officer fired his Taser and missed, requiring the use of a second officer’s Taser.
This second Taser attempt had its intended effect, and Varner suffered burns to her chest from the shock, as well as torn flesh on her arms where the officers handcuffed her. According to her attorney, Varner accrued $30,000 in medical bills as a result of the policemen’s conduct.
Unfortunately, this is not the first controversial incident for police in El Reno, Oklahoma. Two years ago, officers used a Taser an uncooperative driver who subsequently went into diabetic shock.
In another recent incident, Texas police used a Taser on a 72-year-old grandmother after pulling her over for speeding.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, a deputy in Travis County fired his Taser at Kathryn Winkfein after she began arguing with him on the side of a busy highway. A video of the incident is now circulating online, making the woman an unlikely celebrity.
Reports indicate that the officer Tasered Winkfein after she refused to sign the traffic ticket and began using profane language. The officer also said she became combative, though the victim disputes this claim.
Regardless of her behavior, the video shows Winkfein is almost half the size of the officer. Due to the extreme disparity in physical strength, the Travis County District Attorney is investigating whether the officer’s use of a Taser was appropriate.
The manufacturer of the controversial weapon, Taser International, claims that the weapon is safe for use on anyone weighing more than 60 pounds. However, the company has not issued age restrictions for the use of its product.
If you or anyone you know has been the victim of an unnecessary Taser attack, or other forms of police brutality, it could be fruitful to learn more about personal injury lawsuits.