Donnell Williams was at home getting out of his bath only an with only a towel on, turned the corner in his house and was at gun point with police. Williams, who is medically deaf and forgot put his heading aide on, he was terrorized and motioned that he was deaf by pointing to his ear. Police responded by electrocuting him. Police were called to William’s home when searching for a shooter — which was later determined that it was a false call. You can read the full story on the local news affiliate, KWCH-12.
Deputy Chief Robert Lee passively responded to this incident with the following statement:
“This one occurred on the worst of calls, that being a shooting. The first few minutes getting control of the scene are very, very important.”
His statement failed offer any assurance that corrective action would take place, nor did he state that further training on the use of a Taser would take place. This is unacceptable! How do we accept this? More importantly, why do we accept this abuse?
Tasers aren’t meant to be the first tool of choice when handling conflicts with subjects. First, you need to accurately assess a situation. Then you must make a reasonable decision on how to react to it. As I’ve blogged before, Discretion is Important, you need to listen to them. If the situation legitimately warrants the use of compliance devices, then you do that … but never should you skip the elementary fundamentals of a field interview (listening to their verbal and non-verbal body language.)
Despite having the officer apologize for the incident, it does not address the greater problem of trigger-happy law enforcement who lack the ability of protecting and serving.
How many legal risks or minutes/pages of media coverage will it take to address this problem? Unfortunately, I can’t tell you, but one thing is for sure — it will be some time until Taser abuse reaches the level of egregiousness that is felt such as Rodney King.