Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Today's TASER Travesty

Three Portland, Oregon police officers have been found to have violated department policy in two separate incidents because they TASERed misdemeanor suspects who had already surrendered.

Actually, it's much worse than that.  Official investigations in both cases revealed that both men were on their knees with their hands on their head or interlaced behind their neck when the cops went ahead and zapped them anyway: 

"As the Portland Police Bureau grapples with how to update its Taser policy, two federal lawsuits stemming from inappropriate Taser use suggest some city police aren't familiar with the current restrictions on their use."

"Suggest"?  "Prove" would seem to be a much more appropriate term right here.

Both brutality victims were subsequently found not guilty by juries or had their charges (one was for interfering with police; nope, no unwarranted "you will respect my authoritah" beefs here) dropped, and they subsequently filed federal lawsuits against the city for damages.

Portland has agreed to settle those suits by paying out close to $140,000 of local taxpayers' hard-earned money, yet unbelievably (and sadly, not surprisingly) Officers Jennifer Thompson, John Hughes and Michelle Tafoya have not received any discipline whatsoever for their actions, despite the following evidence of their malfeasance:

"'Officer Thompson denies deploying her Taser against [Hung Minh] Tran while he was on his knees, facing away from her, but based upon the testimony of several witnesses, I find that she did,' arbitrator Alan Bonebrake wrote, adding she deployed probes into Tran's back.

'This was unnecessary, unreasonable and an excessive use of force,' he wrote. Tran proved he was deprived of his civil rights from the use of the Taser, assault and Thompson's negligence, the arbitrator found."


"At [Christopher] Clay's criminal trial, Hughes acknowledged Clay was passively resisting, not moving toward him, not reaching for anything. When questioned by Clay's criminal defense attorney Stephanie Engelsman, Hughes admitted he violated bureau policy.

'I don't think there was any dispute dramatically as to what Clay was doing at the moment he was Tasered,' said deputy city attorney Scott Moede, who represented the officers in the civil suit.

Clay said he sued Tafoya because she started the encounter 'yelling at me like a mad person,' without ever trying to talk, and Hughes for shooting him."

By way of comparison, in what private company would employees that were found to have blatantly violated policy, causing undue harm to people (and then apparently lying about it, at least in Thompson's case), and whose actions ended up costing their firm a six-figure settlement would be allowed to continue on in their positions without any punishment whatsoever?

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