11 03 2008

Tasers and the Disabled

Reno Gazette-Journal blogs

Monday, March 10, 2008 


Tasers and the Disabled: The Tasers vs. the disabled debate got another notch added to its belt after video recently surfaced showing a disabled man being hit with a stun gun by police.

John Dempsey, 45, was jolted by a Taser by Canadian police after he refused to walk through a doorway and wedged his foot on the door frame. The recently released video showed one policeman throwing Dempsey — who suffered from a muscle disorder similar to Parkinson’s — to the floor while a second policeman hit Dempsey with a stun gun.

Dempsey launched a civil lawsuit years after the incident because officers told him he would have to stay in jail and Dempsey wasn’t sure if that meant he wouldn’t have access to his medications. Despite the new video, Dempsey’s case may still end up in limbo. In a strange twist, Dempsey died a month ago after wandering into traffic.

Tasering incidents such as Dempsey’s, though, have called into question law enforcement Tasering policies when it comes to disabled people and whether police get adequate training as fas as recognizing and dealing with disabled suspects. Last year, for example, a Kansas man with hearing problems got Tasered after a crank caller sent police to his house. The man, Donnell Williams, was just coming out of the bathroom and failed to raise his hands as police ordered because he couldn’t hear what they were saying.

Jason Hidalgo 




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