Taser Tots: Indiana Police Taser Ten Year Old Boy At Day Care

180px-Taser-x26We have previously discussed the increasing use of tasers by police in circumstances where other avenues were available, including cases involving young children (here and here and here and here and here and here) or the elderly (here and here and here and here). Now we have a case where two Indiana police officers tasered a 10-year-old, 94-pound boy at the Tender Teddies Day Care in Martinsville.

The officers from the Martinsville Police Department responded to a report of an unruly child at a home day care location. Such calls are not uncommon, particularly with so many children with emotional or developmental problems. However, after the police arrived, they introduced tasers at Tender Teddies Day Care as witnesses watched in horror. Even the Martinsville Police Chief Jon Davis has acknowledged that his officers could have avoided using a stun gun on a child and has put the two officers on administrative leave pending investigation.

It seems a prototypical case on the expansion of the use of tasers and stun guns. At one time, police would have restrained the child physically. Now, police seem to use tasers as a first response. Despite these controversies, police around the country seem to view the taser as a weapon to use in the face of people who disobey their orders or represent any type of physical threat, even a child. In some of these cases, the taser appears like an virtual punishment tool when citizens do not comply. There appears little interest in politicians to look at this question and curtailing the use of tasers in the country. The result is a fear from many citizens that they could be tasered if they challenge an officer’s orders or question his authority.

Officers do not taser a child at day care unless they have been trained or convinced that such weapons can be used whenever there is a potential for physical contact. The attitude shown in past controversies reflects a casual and arbitrary use of the weapons — a reflection of the view that such use of force is entirely discretionary with the officer. When lawsuits are brought in even the most egregious cases, citizens often find courts that are entirely unsympathetic or unwilling to review such conduct. The abuse of tasers is part of an expansion of police powers in the United States that is worrisome and threatens to create a general intimidation of the public. That threatens not just to change the relationship of citizens to their government but to create a chilling effect on those challenging police abuse.

Source: NY Daily News

Kudos: Michael Blott

72 thoughts on “Taser Tots: Indiana Police Taser Ten Year Old Boy At Day Care

  1. Police are dangerous. They lack judgement, training, common sense and most importantly respect for human beings.

    The two officers should have been fired and then arrested.

  2. This is not just the child and his parents who are upset at this, but this has wrecked any good will the police had with the parents of the other children at the school and the parents of any children in the community. Who is going to talk to Officer Friendly if he is likely to taser you?

  3. The problem with tasers is that they were supposed to be so-called less lethal force. In other words, it is safer to use a taser rather than a firearm, and so the scale of force used in some circumstances could be reduced.

    But it did not work out that way. In practical terms, when use of a firearm is appropriate police will _always_ use the firearm. It is unreasonable to expect an individual to substitute a less effective device in a case where personal safety is seriously threatened.

    So tasers are use in practice only in situations where a firearm is clearly inappropriate. In other words, when there is no serious safety concern. It has effectively become a weapon of convenience for the police and since it is only used when force is not necessary, the use of the taser is almost always wrong.

  4. What is with schools and daycares calling the police for everything?
    One, because the police are some scary people (for the wrong reasons), and two, because these schools are supposed to be capable of handling everything short of medical emergencies and violent crime.

  5. Jonathan: You do not ever acknowledge in your articles on tasers that a taser is a lethal weapon. Lethal means it can kill. Like a gun, it does not always kill. But, it can kill. It will likely kill a human who has a heart condition or a brain condition. It will likely kill a ten year old.
    The cops in this case need to be prosecuted for assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder. Period.
    The cops need to be sued. The supervisor and the Chief need to be sued. The municipality that pays the cops, the supervisor and the Chief needs to be sued. They violated the child’s civil rights by this assault with a deadly weapon. This puts it in federal court under 42 United States Code Section 1983, 1985 and 1988.
    When plaintiffs counsel deposes the cops at his office he should subpoena the Chief’s child in and the Chief’s 80 year old mother. He should, after hearing that tasers are harmless, offer to tase child and granma in front of camera and court reporter while taking their deposition. I think the Chief will object.

  6. This is part of an article from Amnesty Internationale:

    February 15, 2012

    Amnesty International Urges Stricter Limits on Police Taser Use as U.S. Death Toll Reaches 500

    Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150

    (New York) — Two days after the death of a Georgia man who was shocked with a police Taser — raising the known death toll from tasers to 500 in the United States — Amnesty International today repeated its call for tighter limits on police use of the weapons.

    According to data collected by Amnesty International, at least 500 people in the United States have died since 2001 after being shocked with Tasers either during their arrest or while in jail. Amnesty International recorded the largest number of deaths following the use of Tasers in California (92), followed by Florida (65), and Texas (37). The Oklahoma City Police Department led all law enforcement agencies in deaths (7) following by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, Harris County Sheriff’s (Tx), Phoenix, Az and San Jose, Ca., all with six deaths.

    On Monday, Johnnie Kamahi Warren was the latest to die after a police officer in Dothan, Al. deployed a Taser on him at least twice. The 43-year-old, who was unarmed and allegedly intoxicated, reportedly stopped breathing shortly after being shocked and was pronounced dead in a hospital less than two hours later.

    “Of the hundreds who have died following police use of Tasers in the United States, dozens and possibly scores of deaths can be traced to unnecessary force being used,” said Susan Lee, Americas program director at Amnesty International. “This is unacceptable, and stricter guidelines for their use are now imperative.”

    Strict national guidelines on police use of Tasers and similar stun weapons – also known as Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs) – would effectively replace thousands of individual policies now followed by state and local agencies.

    Police forces across the United States currently permit a wide use of the weapons, often in situations that do not warrant such a high level of force.

    Law enforcement agencies defend the use of Tasers, saying they save lives and can be used to subdue dangerous or uncooperative suspects. But Amnesty International believes the weapons should only be used as an alternative in situations where police would otherwise consider using firearms.

    In a 2008 report, USA: Stun weapons in law enforcement, Amnesty International examined data on hundreds of deaths following Taser use, including autopsy reports in 98 cases and studies on the safety of such devices.

    Among the cases reviewed, 90 percent of those who died were unarmed. Many of the victims were subjected to multiple shocks.

    Most of the deaths have been attributed to other causes. However, medical examiners have listed Tasers as a cause or contributing factor in more than 60 deaths, and in a number of other cases the exact cause of death is unknown.

    Some studies and medical experts have found that the risk of adverse effects from Taser shocks is higher in people who suffer from a heart condition or whose systems are compromised due to drug intoxication or after a struggle.

    “Even if deaths directly from Taser shocks are relatively rare, adverse effects can happen very quickly, without warning, and be impossible to reverse,” said Lee. “Given this risk, such weapons should always be used with great caution, in situations where lesser alternatives are unavailable.”

    There are continuing reports of police officers using multiple or prolonged shocks, despite warnings that such usage may increase the risk of adverse effects on the heart or respiratory system.

    Deaths in the past year include Allen Kephart, 43, who died in May after he was stopped by police for an alleged traffic violation in San Bernardino County, Ca. He died after three officers shocked him up to 16 times. The officers were later cleared of wrongdoing.

    Last November, Roger Anthony fell off his bicycle and died after a police officer in North Carolina shot him with a stun gun. The officer reportedly shocked Anthony – who had a disability and hearing problems – because he did not respond to an order to pull over.

    Neither man was armed when police shocked them.

    “What is most disturbing about the police use of Tasers is that the majority of those who later died were not a serious threat when they were shocked by police,” said Lee.

  7. The media likes to make fun of tasers and their role in police and jailhouse killings. “Dont Tase me Bro!” is commonly quoted and all laught. Here is a case that is no longer funny to the tax payers of a town that tased and this article explains a bit about this case which settled for 2.5Million:

    Taser Case Settled for $2,250,000; Township Policy Revised

    Columbus, Ohio January 29, 2014 – A case arising from the application of a Perry Township, Ohio Taser policy and Matthew Hook, a fleeing property crime suspect, has been resolved. On August 8, 2010, Matthew Hook was wanted for property crimes and was fleeing from police. During his flight, he climbed a fence despite officer’s orders to stop. The Perry Township police officer deployed his Taser causing neuromuscular incapacitation which led to Matthew falling from the fence and sustaining a traumatic brain injury. As a result of the fall, Matthew suffers seizures, is emotionally unstable and requires constant monitoring. Mr. Hook, his parents and daughter filed suit asserting that the tasing was excessive force and that Perry Township had a deficient Taser policy. The officer and Perry Township denied liability and asserted that the force used was appropriate and that the Taser policy was consistent with legal requirements. The medical expenses and life care plan totaled millions of dollars.

    Perry Township lost its motion for summary judgment in the district court and the case was settled while pending on appeal in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals when a $2,250,000 settlement was reached. The settlement proceeds will be paid by the Township’s liability coverage and divided among Mr. Hook and the family members. No township funds were paid as part of the settlement. The Township has since amended its taser policy. And Mr. Hook has a sobering message for people who flee arrest: “I wish I had not run from the police. I would rather have my brain than the money.” Attorney Al Gerhardstein of Cincinnati, co-counsel for the Plaintiff, said, “We commend the Township for revising the Taser policy and we hope other jurisdictions will follow the Township’s example. This is a sad case for everyone involved.” Mr. Bill Lamkin and Mr. Tim Van Eman of Columbus are also co-counsel for the Plaintiffs.

    CONTACT: AL GERHARDSTEIN – CELL 513.659.4765513.659.4765

    If you are in that state and get tased you should call Al. Not me. The Al above.

  8. God sends down lightening bolts. Cops kill with tasers.
    Here is the cite for an A.L.R. article on cops and tasers and Section 1983 liability.

    American Law Reports
    The ALR databases are made current by the weekly addition of relevant new cases.

    When Does Use of Taser Constitute Violation of Constitutional Rights

    Jay M. Zitter, J.D.

  9. It used to be that cops knew part of the job was wrestling w/ angry people and cuffing them. Now, the mindset for many is, “Hell, I’ll just taser the guy.” It has ALWAYS been befuddling to me since I started working in the law enforcement world[never a cop], why ALL cops aren’t required to be black belts in karate, That would solve a myriad of problems.

  10. Al Z.,

    “… subpoena the Chief’s child in and the Chief’s 80 year old mother.”

    That is simultaneously a completely childish notion and a stunningly (pun intended) powerful image.

    I can’t decide whether to berate or congratulate you.

  11. I had a case about a year ago wherein my client had been Tasered and ended up in the hospital charged with battery of a police officer (the officer had no injuries). The whole case was bulls**t, and began after racial slurs were aimed at my client and my client responded (stupidly) by inviting the officer to have unnatural relations with the officer’s mother. Anyway, one day while chatting with a judge friend about an unrelated matter, my partner was informed that the Chicago Police had cameras on their Tasers. A couple of “Huh!?” ‘s later (done in the voice of Scoobie-Doo) we were on the phone with the Taser Corporation. They were super helpful, gave us information about the order of Taser cameras CPD had ordered, and directed us to a promotional video promoting the cameras. They automatically activated when the Tasers were drawn and were marketed as a way for police departments to avoid frivolous law suits brought by those who were Tased. We subpoenaed information from the CPD, on how the cameras were used (I seem to recall they bought 100). And were informed that it was just a trial program that lasted a month after which all of the cameras were removed from the Tasers. The manufacturer seems to have their heart in the right place. They’ve invented what was supposed to be and alternative to blowing someone’s head off. They naively believe that in most cases officers would actually like to record their use of the product. Well, not in Chicago. One other fun fact we learned from the manufacturer (which lead to another subpoena) was that there is software in each gun which records (I believe down to the 10th of a second) how long it’s been deployed and whether it was fired or pressed against a subject. Our officer’s report indicated one zap, the software indicated 5 times. The aggravated battery was eventually dismissed.
    20 years ago when I started as a defense attorney, and most of the cops were older than I was, there was a lot less of this nonsense (even by the street-monster cops in Chicago). I used to work in a branch court downtown that handled all the chaos from the Loop to Cabrini Green, and the police were regularly dealing with bat-shit crazy homeless people and drug addicts. They got attacked (and bitten) a lot. But there was a recognition by these older cops of who they were dealing with, a recognition that these people were nuts. The main concern of the police was that the suspects got HIV and Hep-C tests. They didn’t take it personally or act like victims. Those days are gone.

  12. seamus, That is one of the most informative comments I’ve ever read here. It is great that we have some folks here w/ real world experience. Thanks.

  13. I find it very unconvincing there was a good reason to light up a ten year, 94 lb child. If he had weapon or something to that significance I could understand the Taser being used but two officers not being able to control him? Something is wrong with this picture.

    I don’t see this as being evident as being part of a growing police state in the US, there are certainly other indications — instead I see it as over-reliance on the Taser as a matter of convenience rather than utilizing other uses of force.

    On face value I would rather see it used than someone getting seriously hurt otherwise. Some officers are quick to draw the Taser. There are certainly times it is the best choice but some use it more than others. Something is to be said about what Seamus commented on his observation of older officers. They tended to use the Taser less than officers who are newer. I’ve lit up a few people at work, but rarely needed to. Plus, from a practical point of view each time a Taser cartridge was used it cost the department $25.00 to replace and it meant having to write up a use of force report that was avoided if you used ordinary means to just wrestle the person into cuffs.

    On another note, I carried an ASP Expandable Baton on my equipment belt starting around 1990 and I never used it once in hitting someone with it in the extended position.

    I think that someone who uses a Taser more often than others needs to have an evaluation as to why they are doing so.

  14. The cops will be exonerated, the child will be “charged” as an adult, and sentenced to a long Time Out.

  15. Nick,

    Better Judo or Akido or the like. I’d rather a cop know how to bring a resister to heel than to just go about pummeling them.

  16. Child will be charged with resisting arrest and disturbing the peace. You have to justify the Tasering. He will do time in juvie.

  17. Of course, if it is not a lethal weapon then we all need them and need to carry them 24/7 and into church, town hall, and the taverns. We can start social clubs called Tase Me Bro and we can shoot any person who might need it. It won’t hurt them. Its not lethal. Those people who died after getting shot were gonna die that same day anyway. It was coincidental. Cops need bazookas too.

  18. I always find it amusing that most states will allow you (a citizen) to carry a firearm, but not a taser.

  19. To madrocketscientist: Maybe because they realize the taser would be used a lot more than a gun. It’s telling!

  20. Now we have a case where two Indiana police officers tasered a 10-year-old, 94-pound boy at the Tender Teddies Day Care in Martinsville. That by the way is 4. That’s right. 4 years old. Interesting that you would bring this up as if it is a new case. Whats the motivation?

  21. What a joke, This happened four years ago, and you can’t be bothered to report on the outcome? Are the officers still suspended pending an investigation?

  22. Shuler

    That is kinda my point. Of course, be it a taser or a gun, if a citizen were to shoot another without some pretty solid justification, we’d be up on charges.

    Police, not so much…

  23. The parents need a Tasers For Tots program in their town. Each kid, ten years or older gets a taser on day one of school. Anything is fair game. No rules. Just like the cops. Tasers are harmless. Kids especially need these in Catholic schools where there are pedophile priests. And where nuns have rulers.

  24. Here is an excerpt of a news story about a 95 year old man killed by taser and bean bag firearm weapon. Bean me up Scotty:

    A 95-year-old man died after police Tasered him and struck him with bean-bag rounds when he confronted officers with a 12-inch butcher knife, a cane and a shoehorn Friday at an assisted living home in south suburban Park Forest.

    Officers were called to the 100 block of Main Street in Park Forest at 8:42 p.m. Friday after John Warna became combative with a private ambulance company attempting to involuntarily transport him for medical treatment, Park Forest Police said. The facility is Victory Centre of Park Forest, a “supportive living” center for senior citizens, according to the company’s website.

    Warna was pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn at 2:30 a.m. Saturday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

    He was threatening facility staff and paramedics with a metal cane and a two-foot metal shoehorn when officers arrived, police said.

    He refused to drop the items when commanded and instead grabbed a 12-inch butcher knife, police said.

    The officers attempted to use a Taser on Warna to no avail and then struck him with bean-bag rounds, which finally caused him to drop the knife, police said.

    He was conscious and talking when he was hospitalized, police said. Warna died of blunt force trauma to the abdomen, according to an autopsy from the medical examiner’s office.

  25. Al

    I don’t know the specifics of the incident reported in that news article but in general terms Tasers are not to be used against the elderly. Both the training and Taser International’s guidelines prohibit it.

  26. Last sentence in the account: “Both officers were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in the case.”

    The slapper, who didn’t bother to include the slap or the tazering in his report, resigned. The tazer included both (slap and tazer) in his report. He was suspended for 45 days and given 2 years probation. I assume the probation was a work probation, not a criminal probation.

  27. How does authoritarian America expect children to be conditioned to live in the police state as adults without a few tasings? If we want a properly functioning police state where citizens don’t hesitate to obey government officials, the best way to indoctrinate the citizens is to start when they are young and being trained to be good citizens in government schools where order is maintained by the police.

    I would be surprised if there isn’t a tasing quota for police officers dealing with juveniles. The politicians and bureaucrats have done their part by criminalizing the typical behavior of children and it is up to the police to ensure absolute compliance if these young citizens are expected to become obedient and compliant adults.

    This is the home of the brave and land of the free that Americans have demanded through their votes. That we have an exceptional nation that boldly trains its young people to cherish the American Dream through negative reinforcement is a testament to our collective greatness in this glorious democracy. I hope we can all come together and agree that we can thank both Republicans and Democrats for making America the greatest nation that has ever existed in this universe.

    USA! USA! USA!

    …and now open your Lee Greenwood songbooks to page 1….

  28. Tom, I have ranted against the duopoly under which we live. I am a libertarian[small “l”] and know we need a 3rd, 4th, etc. choice. You will get a lotta resistance for your out of the box thoughts, as have I. But, hang tough, there are a few of us here. Your comments are interesting and thoughtful. Keep them coming.

  29. “Al – more people have been killed by lightening since 2001 than by Tasers.”

    If ever there was an apples and oranges comparison, that has to be it.

    The expected value of dying each year from lightening strike is related to both the probability of lightening strike (presumably very low), and the number in the general population which is approximately 320 million.

    When you consider both the relatively low numbers of taser attacks and the number of fatalities due to taser attack, the fatality rate of taser attack ought to be a matter of serious concern.

    Lightening stikes and the fatalities related to them tell us nothing about fatalities related to tasers.

  30. bfm – I think the Taser company keeps the details on deaths each year from Taser-related activity. However, the number of Taser attacks are higher than reported, we usually only hear about the fatalities or like this one, where it is a child.

  31. Al, We have a 2 political party duopoly that makes it virtually impossible for a 3rd party. Read Ralph Nader’s accounts of merely trying to enter the Presidential debates. The Dems or Rep would MUCH rather the other party win than see a 3rd party emerge. The one truly bipartisan agreement is there shall be no 3rd parties.

  32. Al – the autopsy on the 95 yo man seems to indicate that the bean bag rounds which are lethal killed him, not the Taser.

  33. How terrible. Police need to be trained on how to physically restrain children, the mentally ill, etc. This behavior is a reflection on the attitude of the Watch Commander or higher.

    And it erodes the confidence that the community has in talking with police, and viewing them as there to help.

  34. Seamus, I agree that cops years ago dealt with crazy people and were abused regularly, but didn’t seem to take it as assault and overreact the way they do nowadays.

  35. Annie – cops now have better lobbyists at the state legislature writing laws to protect them. Go unions!!!!!

  36. Mail carriers almost never shoot dogs.

    Psychiatric nurses and psychiatrists almost never shoot the demented.

    School teachers almost never tase elementary school students.

    What is it with police officers? Are we really scraping that far down in the bottom of the barrel? Can’t we hire people with just a little more common sense? Could we possibly give LE some of the same training we give to letter carriers and school teachers?

    Would it really make us all that less safe to train LE to the same standard as letter carriers when it comes to a barking dog?

    Does it really seem that we would have more casualties among LE if they used the same standards as school teachers when dealing with a misbehaving elementary school child?

    I am just asking for a little though and consideration on this matter.

    It just seems as though the response that the officer’s actions were ‘in accordance with departmental standards’ has become a kind of incantation given without real consideration to the facts of the situation.

  37. bfm – mail carriers, psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists, school teachers are never armed. Although some schools are arming the teachers.

    The problem here to twofold: 1) why did the school call the cops rather than the parents 2) why did the cops over-react?

  38. The UN is currently debating the legitimacy of killer robots in warfare. Arnold is their star witness. The first sentence is true, not the second one, though.

  39. People keep talking about how the cops need better training, but who will train the trainers of those who train the cops?

    It seems like the cops did a better job before they got all this training that they allegedly get. Do adults, who have presumably been “trained” in schools all their lives, really need to be trained to not be brutal thugs and not engage in violent attacks against women, children and elderly people?

    Maybe instead of “training” human beings as if they are circus animals, some attempt to actually educate them should be made that doesn’t involve tasers, ringing bells, standardized tests and unquestioning obedience to authority. Call me a dreamer, but I think it is theoretically possible to teach kids to think, thereby avoiding the need to “train” them like one might teach a chimp to ride a tricycle.

    It could be the time isn’t far off when politicians, anxious to show how tough they are on crime, seek to replace “trained” idiot human mutants with killer robots to get tough with scofflaws, kids and those suspected of thinking about doing some illegal act.

  40. Yikes! I’m scaring myself!

    Once a politician introduces the concept of crime-fighting killer robots, a politician from the other party will step up the game by calling for larger and more powerful killer robots. Not to be outdone, the politicians will go back and forth and eventually we will have killer robots 12-feet tall that roam the streets.

    Every year they will get new killer robots with more self-contained weapons and they will get larger and larger until one day they are 20 feet tall and can fly. The next step would be to eliminate costly courts by programming the killer robots to determine guilt and mete out punishment on the spot.

    Then we’ll all be safe.

  41. Good! Gotta get them thugs when they are young! I am proud of law enforcement in our great land. Truly a dangerous job, having to deal with belligerent children. These guys are truly brave!

  42. Svoogle – it is amazing the intestinal fortitude shown by the officer in bringing this thug down. Lesser officers would have left it to the faculty to deal with.

  43. You live in a society where carrying lethal weapons while out shopping, or in a cinema, or at a restaurant, or even at a school, is increasingly regarded as normal and natural. As a society, you kill criminals in cold blood. Therefore inflicting excrutiating pain on 10 year old children seems not that odd a part of your culture: which is why these law officers presumably felt it ok to behave in this way. It seems beyond weird to most of the rest of humankind – but, for all your strengths, that’s the society you live in, America.

  44. singapom – the reason police feel free to do this is because they are almost never held personally accountable. They are rarely charged with a crime and when they are juries tend to side with the police. They think they are carrying a get-out-of-jail-free card.

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