9th Circuit To Police: Think Before You Taser

police officer taser

Police should only use a taser if a strong government interest “compels” the use of force. And if they aren’t justified, they risk being sued.

In a case of first impression, the Ninth Circuit held that a police officer who tasered the then 21-year-old cousin of tennis stars Bob and Mike Bryan, who was basically throwing a fit when being pulled over after a long day, violated Carl Bryan’s constitutional right to be free from excessive force, the Recorder reported.

“Although Bryan had shouted expletives to himself while pulling his car over and had taken to shouting gibberish, and more expletives, outside his car,” the court wrote, “at no point did he level a physical or verbal threat against officer McPherson.”

The officer never warned Bryan he would be tasered, and, the Court said, he should at least have been warned.

The WSJ Law Blog has additional background on the day Carl Bryan was tasered, including how he was wearing boxer shorts and tennis shoes and yelling at himself when he was tasered from 20 feet away.

But no matter, the strange circumstances, the Court has placed some rules on when an officer can get out his taser. “The objective facts must indicate that the suspect poses an immediate threat to the officer or a member of the public.”

If only this opinion had come out before the now-ex police officer tasered a 10-year-old girl.

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