Tasers are used across the nation by police as a "pain compliance technique." But do the powerful electroshock weapons amount to police brutality? A case that lands before the Supreme Court next week could decide the fate of tasers.
Malika Brooks sued three Seattle police officers who tased her when she was seven months pregnant. The New York Times reports that she was pulled over going 32 miles per hour in a 20 mph zone. She took the ticket. The situation escalated when she refused to sign it because she thought it amounted to an admission of guilt. The cops tried to arrest her, but Brooks refused to get out of her car.
The situation plainly called for bold action [sic], and Officer Juan M. Ornelas met the challenge by brandishing a Taser and asking Ms. Brooks if she knew what it was.
She did not, but she told Officer Ornelas what she did know. "I have to go to the bathroom," she said. "I am pregnant. I'm less than 60 days from having my baby."
The three men assessed the situation and conferred. "Well, don't do it in her stomach," one said. "Do it in her thigh."
After Seattle's finest "boldly" tased the pregnant woman, they dragged her to the pavement, cuffed and booked her.
Taser International warns against using tasers on pregnant women because of potential damage to the fetus, but luckily, Brooks' daughter was born healthy. She sued the officers for using excessive force and last fall the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the officers had indeed crossed line. The justices also said that Brooks couldn't sue because the law wasn't clear at the time of the incident.
But for cops around the nation, it wasn't enough that the Seattle cops weren't liable—they've asked the Supreme Court to take up the case to see if they can get the "excessive force" ruling thrown out. The court will decide whether to hear the case next week.
Police organizations are worried that if the ruling stands, cops around the nation won't be able to deliver blasts of electricity into the body of suspected criminals any more. God forbid this precious right be hindered! [New York Times]