When are Police Allowed to Use Tasers?

Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

New Mexico Criminal Defense Attorney - New Mexico Criminal Law OfficesWhen making an arrest, police officers have the right to use a reasonable amount of force in getting the individual to cooperate. Lately, police brutality and use of excessive force have come under scrutiny in Albuquerque. It has been brought to the country’s attention that Albuquerque has a problem with the police using excessive force in their interactions with the public. There is growing concern that reforms are taking place.

One tool that police officers have at their disposal is the Taser. Tasers are used to immobilize an individual by delivering an electric current to a person’s body that interferes with the victim’s ability to control the muscles. While not considered a deadly weapon, Tasers have been frequently associated with deaths in the United States.

Human rights organization Amnesty International, USA has estimated that 540 Taser-related deaths have occurred between 2001 and 2013. While the Taser may not be directly responsible for a death, electric currents coursing through the body can create conditions that contribute to death, particularly when the person has a medical condition or disability. It is clear that with Taser usage and injuries on the rise, police officers need to use the utmost discretion before employing a Taser to control any person.

Tasers and Excessive Force

Recently, there have been several court cases where the court decided that the use of Tasers did constitute excessive force. Awareness of the dangers of Tasers is on the rise, and considering New Mexico’s current reputation for cases of police brutality, it may very well be that you have experienced the use of excessive force if an arresting officer used a Taser during an arrest. While the law protects an officer’s right to use reasonable force, the facts of your case may reveal excessive use of force.

Excessive force varies from case to case and there is no rule of thumb to determine when it has occurred. Courts may consider some of the following factors:

  • Why the individual was being arrested
  • Whether or not the individual posed a threat to the arresting officers
  • Whether or not the individual tried to resist arrest

If an individual is being stopped for rolling through a stop sign or another comparable minor violation, there is no reason a Taser should become part of the incident. In such a case, it may be determined that excessive force was employed. However, if the individual engages the police in a high-speed pursuit, and the officers had reason to believe that the individual had a weapon, then use of a Taser might be deemed to have been a reasonable use of force.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer can Help.

In many cases, the decision about reasonable force versus excessive force will be decided by a jury, and how well both sides argue the case. Most excessive force cases fall into a grey area, and it is imperative that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney present the facts in court about the use of excessive force. At New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, we have seen many individuals who have been brutalized by the police, with Tasers, nightsticks, and other “non-lethal” weapons. We are committed to being part of the effort to put an end to police brutality. Contact us today to discuss your case.