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The Florida Bar

Report on Taser Use by the Department of Justice

United States Department of Justice has recently reported on the use of Taser equipment by police officers in the United States. Most of the findings in this report were based on the reports of law enforcement agencies, which included both Broward County and Miami-Dade County departments.

The report indicated that injuries to citizens as opposed to police officers indicated a discrepancy of up to 300%. Analytical data compiled by police officers using Taser equipment seem to indicate that most injuries used in calculating the data involved cuts and bruises. The seriousness of injuries overall was based on a determination compiled primarily by police departments.

Attorney William Moore in Broward County Florida explains that the fourth amendment forbids unreasonable searches and seizures and use of Tasers clearly fall under the seizure category. Unfortunately, what we find is that the most egregious cases involving Taser misuse is investigated by a police department’s internal affairs unit.

Use of Tasers Compared to Pepper Spray

The Department of Justice seems to analogize in contrast the use of Taser equipment with the use of pepper spray as a means of subduing a criminal suspect. The department primarily analogizes early use of pepper spray. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International criticized law enforcement’s use of pepper spray in the 1990s which seems to be portrayed as having no merit according to the department. Specifically the Department of Justice notes that numerous reports establish that violence towards officers rapidly declined in jurisdictions that use pepper spray. In essence, criticism of the weapon that preempted Tasers by Amnesty International was undermined.

William Moore, a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale Florida notes that it is peculiar that the department failed to distinguish between the various types of spray irritants. There are several different forms of irritant spray that were utilized by law enforcement throughout the 90s. Some had a much more significant danger factor than others. The fact is, that suspects have died as a result of suffocation or adverse effects following being sprayed.

South Florida police departments such as Miami-Dade which employs over 3000 officers is one of the largest in the United States. Despite that jurisdictions having a high number of suspects reported to have resisted per capita, Miami-Dade has never issued pepper spray to their police officers. This raises some interesting questions as to the reasoning according to Attorney Moore. In other words, South Florida police departments may have considered the dangers associated with the use of such a weapon.

I don’t think that a proper analogy can be made between electric Tasers and pepper spray. I am disheartened that the comparison was included in the Department of Justices report for no other reason than to say “the same critics used to condemn the harmless use of pepper spray.”

More information about policing weapons in the age of technology can be obtained by contacting attorney William Moore in Broward County. The William Moore criminal defense law firm is located at 110 SE 6th St #1713, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301. William Moore can be emailed at WRdefense@gmail.com or by calling (954) 523-5333.

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