Students are allowed to use cell phones but only for emergencies during school hours. It is not clear if the officer then allowed the student to his cell phone for an emergency call after being tasered.
Chief Howard Burton sees the use of a taser as perfectly appropriate in such a situation: “The kid refused to listen. The officer took him by the arm and said, ‘You have to go to the office.’ The student resisted, pushed the officer. The officer, defending himself, took out his stun gun and did a drive stun.” Burton’s reaction to the tasering reflects the increasingly reflective use of the weapon in a wide variety of circumstances where force might have been avoided. It seems to fall into the old military adage that, when you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Where an officer might have grabbed hold of the student or issued another warning in prior years, the availability of the taser allows for this type of escalation of force. While we should know more facts about the level of resistance (and whether it was simply a case of the student pulling or swatting back the officer’s hand) the use of the device in the school over such a minor matter is troubling. It is also curious to see an officer policing the halls for such school violations as use of a cellphone as opposed to focusing on security issues.
We have seen a regular array of such taser cases in questionable circumstances recently, here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.
In fairness to the officers, another officer found a loaded gun in the bag of another student that day (though the authorities indicated that the eleven-year-old girl might not have known that it was in the bag).
Burton says that the student continued to resist on the floor and had to be handcuffed. The student complained of dizziness following the tasering and was sent to a hospital.