US Supreme Court Won't Hear Taser Appeal
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand a lower court’s ruling that said use of a Taser on a mentally-ill man who died does count as unconstitutional, excessive force.
The court refused to hear a brief filed by Phoenix-based Taser International.
In January, judges on a federal circuit court instructed police departments to treat stun guns similarly to the way they treat firearms — as deadly weapons that cannot be used when someone is resisting arrest.
The case originates in North Carolina in 2011 when a mentally-ill man was reportedly tased five times in two minutes by police, and later died at the hospital.
The court sided with the family, citing a violation of the man’s Fourth Amendment and 14th Amendment rights.
Taser legal counsel Pam Peterson said the company objects to that classification.
“We are a less lethal option and we believe that the Fourth Circuit decision is not based on fact, it’s not based on studies and that’s part of the problem," said Peterson.
The Fourth Circuit ruling sets a precedent for departments in five states. Peterson says those police agencies will now have to update their policies on when to deploy a Taser.