This video shows a confrontation between a couple in Cotati, California and police after the police were called to investigate a domestic violence complaint. The couple tells the police that they were simply yelling in an argument and refused to allow the police to enter without a warrant. The police respond by kicking down the door and tasering the couple.
In defense of the police, it is not clear if they can actually see the couple, particularly the wife. In a case of possible domestic abuse, police need to see the occupants to ensure that someone is not being or has been beaten. If the police were to simply leave based on verbal responses, there could be a victim found later who was unable to break free or seek help. I can understand the reluctance of the police to leave the scene without a visual on the couple. However, they could have sought a telephonic warrant.
Despite the compelling concern over the safety of occupants, there remains the question of whether the police can break down the door based on what they have been told and more importantly whether tasering was necessary simply because the couple was refusing to lay on the ground.
Police can enter a home without a warrant under “exigent circumstances” where there is a reasonable belief that there is an immediate need to protect their lives or the lives of others. Here the couple both respond to the police and demand a warrant as a precondition for entry. There is no allegation of a report of actual violence as opposed to yelling. The police are clearly suggesting that the suspicious conduct led them to be concerned for the safety of the couple, particularly the woman.
The police demand to know why the couple will not come out, though citizens are allowed to remain in their homes absent a lawful demand to exit the home. The woman is tased first and then the man. I fail to see the reasonable basis for the taser. They are clearly not obeying commands but they do not appear to be threatening the officers. As we have discussed before, tasers appear to be used increasingly in response to citizens who simply do not follow the orders of police.
What do you think about the entry and force shown in this video?