Trooper Advocates Taser Use - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Trooper Advocates Taser Use

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October 4, 2007

Albany - - Many law enforcers say tasers are a needed tool to get law violators under control without endangering their life. Critics say taser use is too harsh and often unnecessary.

It looks like a regular gun. It's not *supposed* to be lethal, but it hurts.

"It's severe pain," says Corporal David Ellis.

Ellis feels taser guns are necessary, especially when you have an out of control law violator and you don't want to use deadly force.

"We don't want to hurt anybody if we don't have to," he says.

But can taser guns have an adverse effect? Investigators are trying to figure out if a taser shock contributed to 59 year old Samuel Baker's death after a confrontation with Quitman police. 

State troopers were not involved in that case, but Corporal Ellis says death by taser is rare.

"Most of the victims have had some type of drug use in their systems or some kind of health problems," he says.

But just when should a law enforcer use a taser? The U.S. Supreme Court says there is no precise definition on when and when not to use this type of force, leaving it to the officer or trooper's reasonable judgement.

"If you stop somebody, they're non compliant to your verbal command, they don't show you their hands, they wont get out of the car, if they take off running," Ellis lists common examples.

Every trooper who uses one has to be certified and that involves being shot with a taser himself. Overall, he says it's not a first choice, but a necessary one.

"Generally they come under control, they comply with your verbal commands or anything like that and if they don't then of course you can apply another five seconds."

And anyone within a 21 foot range can feel its effects.

Corporal Ellis was issued his taser three years ago and has never used it against a suspect.

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