A Cincinnati law firm representing one of four Taser victims in the past four years in Hamilton County is out with a new report it hopes will prompt police agencies to change the way they use the weapon.
Gerhardstein and Branch, representing the family of Everett Howard, who was Tased at the University of Cincinnati, says there are serious problems with police policies. The 18-page report says 94-percent of department materials don't adequately warn that Tasers can capture the heart rhythm of the subject and that it could lead to death. It says two-thirds of departments permit upper chest shots despite manufacturer's warnings against it and one third don't warn police officers about the risk of people falling when Tased. Other findings include:
- 70% of policies do not instruct officers to consider the seriousness of the crime before deciding whether or not to use the Taser
- 27% of policies do not restrict Taser use on vulnerable populations such as juveniles, elderly individuals, or the visibly pregnant
- 100% of policies fail to require that Taser output be tested to ensure that the actual performance of the device is within manufacturer's specifications
- 73% of policies do not require an investigation that includes a data download from the Taser's memory chip after use to independently verify the number and duration of shocks delivered to the subject
- 15% of policies explicitly authorize officers to use their Taser on a fleeing subject, regardless of the crime or the threat to the public
The survey is based on public record requests to more than 30 local police departments. The law firm will officially release the report this afternoon at the New Prospect Baptist Church at 4:30.
The firm says it wants a task force formed to help make changes. Rea
Read the report here and click on "report."