Pregnant Woman Tasered-Will Excessive Force Ever Find Boundaries?
With so many recent reports of Taser incidents across the United States, those who are uninformed might be under the impression that Taser shocking has become a new national sport!
Consider the cases of the police brutality incident in Brattleboro, Vermont, in which two gardeners were Tasered after refusing to leave a property on which they were trespassing. Or the Internet sensation of University of Florida student Andrew Meyer, who was shocked with a Taser at a student political forum with Senator John Kerry.
Settlements have never occurred with the company Taser, who manufactures the devices, generically known as electroshock weapons, or by their manufacturer's name Taser (often misspelled "tazer"). Settlements with cities over brutality or wrongful death involving Tasers used by law enforcement are few and far between, and are routinely resolved in a hushed manner, despite the fact that deaths related to Taser use are being reported in the media on what seems like a weekly basis.
However, the newest incident involving a Taser gun has...err...shocked people across the country.
A Trotwood, Ohio police officer used a Taser on a pregnant woman who had come to the police station to inquire about giving up custody of her 1-year-old son, who was with her at the time.
In response to her approach, officers began asking her background information about her and her son. The woman became defensive at the questioning, at first refusing to give any information, then becoming visibly agitated.
A video circulating on the Internet shows closed-circuit television footage of the entire incident:
The video depicts in a series of angles the woman struggling with the officer, who responds by taking the boy with her and leading him to another officer. Before you quite know what's happening, the officer pushes the woman onto her stomach, and he then uses a Taser on her neck.
The officer did not know she was pregnant at the time of the incident, because she was wearing a large, bulky winter coat and therefore the shape of her pregnant stomach was obscured. When she was sitting down, also, her small child was sitting on her lap, which did not suggest to the officer that she was pregnant.
According to the officer, she did not tell the police that she was pregnant, even after she was taken into custody following the Taser shock.
There was no indication from any of the news sources that personal injury was caused to either the unborn child or mother because of the Taser, and the 1-year-old son was put into the custody of a family member.
Obviously, if the officer had no hint available that the woman he was subduing was pregnant, he can't be faulted for obeying police policy, which only states that officers must "greatly evaluate each situation with discretion when anticipating the deployment of the Taser on young children, elderly persons and pregnant females."
However, it's become clear that with the risks involved in NOT knowing the medical condition of a potential Taser victim-like Pontiac resident Daniel Beloungea, who was shocked with a Taser when police thought he was resisting arrest after he went into an epileptic seizure-police should return to the original intent of the Taser weapon, which was to act as an alternative to a gun, not as a substitute for handcuffs.