Archive | Don’t Tase Me Bro

Reader Poll on Tasing of OccupyDC Protester

Yesterday afternoon, at the OccupyDC protest in Washington, DC, a police officer tased a protester. As I understand it, the police were putting notices around the protest site that all camping supplies had to be removed because the site was no longer going to be made available for the protest. A protester in a red shirt proceeded to tear down the notices after the police left them, and he is heard screaming at the police: “Let them clean up the trash in the fucking parkway! It was your fucking trash, you fucking pigs!” The police then walked after the protester, who ran away from the police. A bunch of officers then surrounded the man, who started repeating that he had done nothing wrong. Two officers then went to grab him, but he resisted; after he continued to resist, a third officer tased him. Here’s the video:

And here’s the question, which you should answer only after having watched the video:

Did the officer who tased the protester act appropriately under the circumstances?
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Thoughts on Bryan v. McPherson, the New Ninth Circuit Taser Case

Earlier today I mentioned Bryan v. McPherson, the Ninth Circuit’s new case on police use of tasers. My earlier post was a partially tongue-in-cheek point about the possibility of Supreme Court review based on the panel and result alone, before I had even read the case. But now that I’ve read the case, I can take my tongue entirely out of my cheek and offer some thoughts on the case. Here’s what stood out to me in reading the case.

1) I was surprised that the opinion recounts the events from the perspective of the driver who was tased rather than the officer who did the tasing. Supreme Court precedent requires the lawfulness of a use of force to be judged from the officer’s perspective: “The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene.” Graham v. Connor, 490 U. S. 386, 388 (1989). Instead of telling us what the officer perceived, the opinion takes us through the plaintiff’s morning and offers us a highly sympathetic perspective on why he was acting so strangely. (“Carl Bryan’s California Sunday was off to a bad start,” the opinion begins.) From a literary perspective, I find this rather engaging. It flows nicely, keeping the reader’s attention. But it leaves the reader rather in the dark on the only legally relevant perspective of how the facts looked to the officer “on the scene” who did the tasing.

2) The second odd part of the opinion is that it hands down a general legal rule about the use of tasers based only on a limited summary judgment record. The Court notes that Officer McPherson tasered Bryan with an X26 taser that has a 1200 volt charge; that Bryan testified (presumably in his deposition) [...]

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