Thursday, October 22, 2009

Taser International Advising Officers Not to Taser Suspects in Chest

Police officials are taking a "wait and see" approach to a recent warning from Taser International advising officers not to shoot its stun guns at a suspect's chest.

Meanwhile, critics of the 50,000-volt weapons say the company's advisory lends credence to what they've been saying all along: That the weapons are dangerous.

The Arizona-based company said in an Oct. 12 training bulletin that hitting a suspect in the chest from the stun guns could cause an "adverse cardiac event." It marks the first time the company has suggested there is any risk of a cardiac arrest related to the use of Tasers.

Taser officials stressed in the bulletin that the weapons don't necessarily cause cardiac arrest, but that officers can avoid controversy by aiming at the pelvic area.

But police are trained to aim for "center mass" -- the chest -- when deploying a gun or Taser, said Shelby Township Police Capt. Stephen Stanbury.

"We'll have to further investigate this and get more information," Stanbury said. "However, if we do need to change our training and start thinking about pointing the Tasers lower, we'll do it."

Byron Pitts, attorney for the family of 16-year-old Robert Mitchell, who died last year after Warren officers shot him in the chest with a Taser, said the company's advisory shows the devices are dangerous.

"It's a product liability issue; if you know the Ford Pinto is going to explode, you need to warn somebody," said Pitts, who is handling the Mitchell family's wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer would not comment on the ongoing lawsuit, but said his department is reviewing the recent advisory from the Taser manufacturer.

Ron Scott, director of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, said the company's advisory "shows what we've been saying all along about Tasers being potentially dangerous."
More information:

Officer Elton Jones Arrested for Breaking into Home

An Indiana State Police Probationary Officer has been arrested accused of a crime in Michigan.

State police say 28-year-old Elton Jones is based out of the Toll Road District in South Bend.

He was arrested Monday in Lansing.

He and two other men are accused of breaking into a home and attacking the homeowner this past weekend.

Jones is facing armed robbery, home invasion, and weapons charges.

He was fired today by the state police.
More information:

Officer Steven Turner Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Officer Steven Turner was also accused of sexual misconduct on the job last year when he worked for the Lithonia Police Department.

CBS Atlanta's Tony McNary ask the tough questions about why charges were never filed. He also spoke with Wynesie Thomas who said Turner made her grab his pierced penis.

"They (Lithonia Police) allowed him to resign they didn't fire him. Pretty much it seems they just brushed everything under the rug," said Thomas.

Thomas is upset with the Lithonia Police Department because the chief didn't not fire Officer Steven Turner after she filed a complaint against him a year ago.

Thomas said, "I took three lie detector tests he took three as well. I passed all of mine, he failed his then I never really heard anything else about it."

Lithonia's Internal Affairs Division investigated Thomas' complaint and determined she was telling the truth. Thomas said she was working at Bourbon Street on the Main, a restaurant located across the street from the police department, when Turner pulled up to the side walk in his patrol car. She said Turner asked her about her tattoos and if she had any piercings. Thomas told Turner her tongue is pierced. Thomas said Turner then grabbed her hand and put it between his legs.

“He reached for my hand and pulled it down to his crouch moved a little and asked if I felt that and if liked it the piercing that he had," said Thomas.

Although Lithonia's Internal Affairs investigator sustained Thomas' allegations, Chief Wille Rosser allowed Turner to resign and never charged him.

Then just last week --Fulton County police arrested Turner. He worked for Carver Bible College when three women accused him of showing off his pierced penis during a traffic stop.

Tony McNary asked Rosser, "Would it have been better for the public or these other alleged victims if he (Turner) was not allowed to go on to another police agency and still practice law enforcement with these allegations over his head?"

"Well that would be a question that I cannot answer," said Rosser.

Chief Rosser said he dropped the case against Turner because Thomas didn't want to file charges, but Thomas said that's not true.

"I never said I didn't want to press charges. I actually even tried to file a suit against them," said Thomas.

Probationary Officer Paul Kezar Arrested for Selling Stolen Property

A Thief River Falls probationary police officer allegedly sold stolen property on Wednesday.

Probationary officer Paul James Kezar, 37, was arrested early Wednesday morning. Authorities are investigating a report of a stolen lawnmower tracked down its current owner on Tuesday, who told investigators it had been purchased from Kezar.

Investigators believe Officer Kezar was involved in the theft and sale of several large ticket items including boats, trailers and all-terrain vehicles.

Kezar has worked as a probationary officer with the Thief River Falls Police Department since January 5, 2009.

Former Officer Matthew Leavitt Sentenced to Two Years in Federal Prison

A former Montgomery police officer was sentenced Thursday to spend two years in federal prison after an earlier guilty plea of violating the civil rights of a mixed race couple.

Matthew Leavitt, 31, of South Charleston was also sentenced to two years of supervised release following his prison term.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin called the case "disturbing" and said Leavitt's behavior "shocked my conscience."

Leavitt arrested Lauren Reynolds on Sept. 26, 2008 and charged her with DUI even though a Breathalyzer test showed she didn't have any alcohol in her system. He also admitted to striking Twan Reynolds several times with a slapjack, an unauthorized weapon, using unreasonable force.

Judge Goodwin said at Thursday's sentencing that more than 20 complaints had been filed against Leavitt alleging illegal searches and arrests. Black men made the complaints or white women who were dating black men.

Leavitt had to surrender his law enforcement certification as part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

Goodwin also said during the hearing that Leavitt “terrorized” the victims’ family, “disgraced his uniform,” and “harmed the community” by diminishing the community’s trust in the police.