report was covered at Above the Law Blawg and the opinion was discussed all over he Blawg-o-sphere, because it seems to represent a fleeting moment of judicial sanity in the battle over the overuse of the Taser (pictured, the x3 multi-shock) technology. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco issued this opinion in the case of Bryan vs. McPherson, (20090 CA9 08-55622 which held that that the Coronado police department could be sued for using a taser on an unarmed motorist. While you should read the opinion for yourself, the LA Times, summaries as follows:
"The unanimous ruling, issued Monday by a three-judge panel, stemmed from a 2005 encounter in which a former Coronado, Calif., police officer, Brian McPherson, stopped a man for failing to wear a seat belt while driving. The driver, Carl Bryan, who testified that he did not hear McPherson order him to remain in the car, exited the vehicle and stood about 20 feet away from the officer. Bryan grew visibly agitated and angry with himself, but did not make any verbal threats against McPherson, according to court documents. McPherson has said he fired his Taser when Bryan took a step toward him -- a claim Bryan has denied. Bryan's face slammed against the pavement when he collapsed, causing bruises and smashing four front teeth."
How many times have we've seen the Boys in Blue and the deputies claim that their use of guns, pepper spray, and tasers on unarmed victims was justified, because the victim was non-compliant, charging them, presenting a threat? Too often.
One other side note: this occurred 5 years ago! Think justice is swift? Be disabused. If this were to go to trial, when do you think it might be tried, if tried, when do you think the appellate process might conclude?