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Thread: Taser over a seatbelt violation

  1. #1
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    Taser over a seatbelt violation

    From thenewspaper.com

    1/5/2010
    Federal Court Blasts Cop for Tasering Man Over Seatbelt
    Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals held that police may not taser a motorist who poses no legitimate threat to the safety of others.

    A federal court last week handed down guidelines that limit the ability of police to use tasers at will. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made its decision in response to a 2005 incident where Coronado Police Officer Brian McPherson tasered and injured motorist Carl Bryan, then 21, over a minor seatbelt infraction. The court described in detail how Bryan had spent the morning driving 180 miles from Camarillo to Coronado only to be stopped by the highway patrol for allegedly speeding on the 405 Freeway. Bryan, upset by being hit with an expensive ticket, forgot to buckle his seatbelt before continuing on his journey.

    When Bryan reached the Coronado bridge at 7:30, Officer McPherson was waiting with a "Click it or Ticket" trap designed to collect $84 seatbelt violation tickets. Bryan knew he was about to get a second citation in the space of a few hours and grew upset with himself. He pulled over and turned down his radio in compliance with McPherson's orders, but Bryan began swearing at himself as he stepped out of his car and stood next to the door.

    McPherson claimed he felt "threatened" by Bryan, who stood in his boxer shorts looking away from McPherson some distance away. Without warning, McPherson shot Bryan with his 1200-volt taser. Bryan fell face first into the ground, shattering four of his front teeth. In addition to his injuries, Bryan was hit with charges for "resisting arrest" and "opposing an officer in the performance of his duties." Bryan sued McPherson and the police department, claiming his rights were violated by the use of excessive force.

    Prosecutors were unable to convince a jury to convict Bryan of the crime often known as "contempt of cop," and a district court judge found that the use of the taser was unlawful. On appeal, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit agreed that McPherson should not be immune to the lawsuit because his actions were objectively unreasonable.

    "An unarmed, stationary individual, facing away from an officer at a distance of fifteen to twenty-five feet is far from an 'immediate threat' to that officer," Judge Kim Wardlaw wrote for the court. "Bryan never addressed, let alone argued with, Officer McPherson once he left his car."

    The court held that even though the X26 model taser used is portrayed as a "non-lethal" tool for police, the device has been known to cause death and significant injury. For that reason, its use must be limited to cases where it is absolutely necessary.

    "We hold only that the X26 and similar devices constitute an intermediate, significant level of force that must be justified by a strong government interest that compels the employment of such force," Wardlaw wrote.

    The court noted that there was nowhere for Bryan to hide a weapon and that he never made a verbal or physical threat toward McPherson. The court found reason to question the veracity of McPherson's testimony that Bryan "came toward him" in a threatening manner and that he believed Bryan was involved in "serious and dangerous criminal activity."

    "The physical evidence demonstrates that Bryan was not even facing Officer McPherson when he was shot: One of the taser probes lodged in the side of Bryan's arm, rather than in his chest, and the location of the blood on the pavement indicates that he fell away from the officer, rather than towards him," Wardlaw wrote. "It is undisputed that Bryan's initial 'crime' was a mere traffic infraction -- failing to wear a seatbelt -- punishable by a fine. Traffic violations generally will not support the use of a significant level of force... None of the offenses for which Bryan was cited or of which he was suspected is inherently dangerous or violent."

    Having decided against McPherson, the court remanded the case to the district court to continue proceedings on the federal Section 1983 lawsuit.

    A copy of the Ninth Circuit decision is available in a 110k PDF file at the source link below.

    Source: Bryan v. McPherson (US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 12/28/2009)

  2. #2
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    I hope that cop gets ass-raped by some real thugs - the kind who don't need badges and guns to do their deeds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    I hope that cop gets ass-raped by some real thugs - the kind who don't need badges and guns to do their deeds.

    That would be nice. the more likely outcome is that he won't even get a paid suspension.

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    Glad to see this decision.

    Sometimes the "nutty ninth" gets it right.

    Chip H.

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    Senior Member J. ZIMM's Avatar
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    It's about time that some of these Cops get their butts kicked. As soon as they put on their Badge, they seem to get that "GOD" complex. We have had our share over this way. We have had two or three Sheriffs Resign because of Ethics Violations and other Hanky Panky. One is now under investigation for his past conduct. This has happened in a Three County Area. Other have been forced to resign for affairs while on duty. ( Fringe Benefits). Some Officials have been tagged with Fraud, and under the table dealings. The outcome of all of this, THEY get to keep their State Retirement, and some of them have gotten Severance Pay on top of that. The tax payers in this State are pissed off to say the least. Yep, we have the biggest bunch of crooks in the Nation. All of us. From our City Leaders, to our County Morons, the State Gurus, and last , but not least, our own Government. It's time to change the Diapers, dontcha think?

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J. ZIMM View Post
    It's about time that some of these Cops get their butts kicked. As soon as they put on their Badge, they seem to get that "GOD" complex. We have had our share over this way. We have had two or three Sheriffs Resign because of Ethics Violations and other Hanky Panky. One is now under investigation for his past conduct. This has happened in a Three County Area. Other have been forced to resign for affairs while on duty. ( Fringe Benefits). Some Officials have been tagged with Fraud, and under the table dealings. The outcome of all of this, THEY get to keep their State Retirement, and some of them have gotten Severance Pay on top of that. The tax payers in this State are pissed off to say the least. Yep, we have the biggest bunch of crooks in the Nation. All of us. From our City Leaders, to our County Morons, the State Gurus, and last , but not least, our own Government. It's time to change the Diapers, dontcha think?
    I think the problem is not the cops per se but the system and it laws.

    What I mean is, decent men are more and more repelled by the actions of the system; therefore, the system attracts more and more not-so-decent types - bullies and even outright sadists.

    If the laws, themselves, were not abusive and tyrannical the cops wouldn't be, either. We have shithead cops because we have a shithead system.

  7. #7
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    The problem is that Tasers are the new Nightstick.

    Chip H.

  8. #8
    Senior Member bikerlbf406's Avatar
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    The problem is with the standard operating procedures of the department, as it allows an officer to use the taser in nothing more than a minor case of verbal non-compliance, and have been taught to use it before their baton or OC spray in most cases. With most SOP's just failure to listen to an officers command on first order, is reason for them to deploy the taser. Blame the department guidlines, as the officers are only following them in most cases.
    Tim, proud owner of 2001 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 & 2007 Honda CMX250C Rebel


  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerlbf406 View Post
    The problem is with the standard operating procedures of the department, as it allows an officer to use the taser in nothing more than a minor case of verbal non-compliance, and have been taught to use it before their baton or OC spray in most cases. With most SOP's just failure to listen to an officers command on first order, is reason for them to deploy the taser. Blame the department guidlines, as the officers are only following them in most cases.
    These SOPs show the laws/procedures are fucked up - so that's where it starts. But any cop who uses a Taser on someone when it's clearly unnecessary and excessive is just a thug in a uniform and no different from the scum of the earth he's supposed to be "protecting" the public from.

    Would you have Tasered the motorist in the original post - even if "SOP" said you could? I bet not. I know I wouldn't have.

    Because neither of us are thugs.

    As you read more and more similar stories, it seems that many cops are increasingly treating the ordinary civilian populace like our military treats the civilians in occupied Iraq. This is no coincidence, since many cops are ex-military and the LE departments are receiving military-type training.

    Another sign of the coming shit-rain, in my opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    These SOPs show the laws/procedures are fucked up - so that's where it starts. But any cop who uses a Taser on someone when it's clearly unnecessary and excessive is just a thug in a uniform and no different from the scum of the earth he's supposed to be "protecting" the public from.

    Would you have Tasered the motorist in the original post - even if "SOP" said you could? I bet not. I know I wouldn't have.

    Because neither of us are thugs.

    As you read more and more similar stories, it seems that many cops are increasingly treating the ordinary civilian populace like our military treats the civilians in occupied Iraq. This is no coincidence, since many cops are ex-military and the LE departments are receiving military-type training.

    Another sign of the coming shit-rain, in my opinion.

    I have been on a military base many times. Most of the time, military personnel are extremely respectful towards civilians. They always called me "sir" and addressed me courteously.

    Something must happen when they go into combat.

    You may be on to something here. This is downright scary.

  11. #11
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
    I have been on a military base many times. Most of the time, military personnel are extremely respectful towards civilians. They always called me "sir" and addressed me courteously.

    Something must happen when they go into combat.

    You may be on to something here. This is downright scary.
    See here:

    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/forum...ad.php?t=13993

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