Saturday, February 18, 2012


Taser use by Florida law enforcement officers have led to the deaths of 65 Floridians since 2001 and with as many as 500 deaths in the United States by police using tasers inappropriately according to Amnesty International which shocks (sorry, couldn't resist) even your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney, Amnesty in it's report, also noted:
“Of the hundreds who have died following police use of Tasers in the USA, dozens and possibly scores of deaths can be traced to unnecessary force being used,” said Susan Lee of  Amnesty International, "This is unacceptable, and stricter guidelines for their use are now imperative.”
Strict national guidelines on police use of Tasers and similar stun weapons – also known as Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs) – would effectively replace thousands of individual policies now followed by state and local agencies. Police forces across the USA currently permit a wide use of the weapons, often in situations that do not warrant such a high level of force. 

The stunning lack of protection for Floridians includes a recent Tampa Bay taser case in Pinellas Park Florida where a Florida Highway Patrol Officer left a twenty year old lady in a vegetative brain-dead state for the rest of her life after her arrest for a nonviolent crime from which she tried to escape after being handcuffed while the officer was doing paper work for her arrest. In her case a video shows that when the taser was fired her collapsed immediately, her head striking the pavement. Using a taser on someone who is handcuffed is usually not permitted and she will never recover according to a well done series of articles in The Tampa Bay Times.

Many Officers seem to falsely believe that Taser use is relatively benign not unlike pepper spray; however, the huge number of deaths and serious injuries being caused by Law Enforcement in Tampa Bay Florida and throughout the United States show that a tasers is a deadly weapons when handled inappropriately. New taser use Guidelines should be implemented to prohibit the use of tasers except in extraordinary circumstances. Clearly, Police should never be permitted to use a taser nor risk deadly force in cases where the alleged criminal misconduct is nonviolent as the risk of injury is too great. Should you or a loved one have need to speak with a Pinellas Criminal Law Attorney about your case we'll look for the best solution to your problem. 
The Florida Statute below delineates when an officer in Florida may use force. The statute does reflect in Section 776.05(3)(b) that nonviolent felonies should be treated with less force during an arrest than violent felonies as the public has less security interests in force being used to subdue any nonviolent felon for charged or uncharged misconduct. This reasoning should also apply when a nonviolent suspect attempts an escape but doesn't because of Section 776.05(2) - this portion of the statute should be changed by the Florida legislature to protect Floridians from Police use of force. Also, in light of taser dangers of deadly force with 500 deaths nationally and 65 deaths in Florida since 2001 the statute must be reinterpreted by law enforcement agencies in light of the risk of deadly force.
776.05  Law enforcement officers; use of force in making an arrestA law enforcement officer, or any person whom the officer has summoned or directed to assist him or her, need not retreat or desist from efforts to make a lawful arrest because of resistance or threatened resistance to the arrest. The officer is justified in the use of any force:

(1)  Which he or she reasonably believes to be necessary to defend himself or herself or another from bodily harm while making the arrest;
(2)  When necessarily committed in retaking felons who have escaped; or
(3)  When necessarily committed in arresting felons fleeing from justice. However, this subsection shall not constitute a defense in any civil action for damages brought for the wrongful use of deadly force unless the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent the arrest from being defeated by such flight and, when feasible, some warning had been given, and: (a) The officer reasonably believes that the fleeing felon poses a threat of death or serious physical harm to the officer or others; or (b) The officer reasonably believes that the fleeing felon has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm to another person. 
The Eiffel Tower receives a Taser.