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Group calls for Taser moratorium

A group including a legislator, a civil rights organization and two attorneys called for a moratorium on Baltimore police Taser use after a 19-year-old's death at a city hospital.

George V. King, a Charles County foster youth living in a Baltimore residential facility, was a patient at Good Samaritan Hospital on May 7 when he began fighting with hospital security staff. The hospital called city police officers for assistance and one officer used his Taser five times to subdue the man, according to the King family attorney and a law enforcement source.

"We are losing too many young people in situations where we don't have to lose them," Maryland Del. Aisha N. Braveboy, D-Prince George's County, said Tuesday at a news conference outside Baltimore Police headquarters.

Braveboy, a candidate for state attorney general, called for a "uniform policy" for Taser use across the state.

The Rev. Cortly "C.D." Witherspoon Sr., president of the Baltimore chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said his group is asking for a public City Council hearing on Taser use and an independent review of Baltimore police's Taser policy before city officers use the stun guns again.

Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts has instructed his officers to consult with supervisors before responding to hospital emergency calls "without a clear violation of existing law or threat to human life."

King family attorney Granville Templeton III said Batts' new policy was revealing. Templeton said he continues to investigate evidence in King's death.

"If the community can't trust the officers on hospital calls, can we trust those same officers to make a decision on the use of guns? Tasers?" he said.

Separately, the American Civil Liberties Union sent Baltimore police a letter Tuesday asking to review its Taser policies and training instructions.

jgeorge@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/justingeorge

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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