Several news outlets recently published stories about Daniel Johnson, a 26 year old California man who filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office for excessive force. The complaint alleges that Johnson was inside his parents home, when someone knocked on the door and told him his father was receiving a ticket for littering by dropping a cigarrette on the ground. Johnson’s father is in his late 50s, who walks with a cane. The senior Johnson also has nerve damage in both hands, which causes him to drop things.
When Daniel went outside, the deputies told him that his father would have to pay a $1000 fine for littering. Daniel asked whether he could pick up the cigarrette and dispose of it properly, In response, the deputies “tased” him at least 10 times on his genital area at “point blank” range!
To add insult to injury, Johnson was originally charged with assault in the December 26, 2013 incident! However, these charges were later dismissed.
There is no real publicity when tasers are used appropriately by police, and the electrical shocks they produce are certainly safer than a bullet from a handgun. The idea of using a taser—non-lethal force, to defuse a dangerous situation, is certainly reasonable on its face.
However, there have been many examples where police misuse tasers, which sometimes injures others. From reported cases, it seems that many police departments would benefit from more training regarding when it is appropriate to reach for that other holster.