The first-ever data analysis of all Taser incidents in Maryland over a three-year period reveals that police agencies across the state have predominantly used the devices against suspects who posed no immediate threat. In hundreds of cases, police didn't follow widely accepted safety recommendations, The Baltimore Sun found.
As the General Assembly moves to create an independent police commission, key lawmakers say one of its first priorities should be to develop a statewide policy on how officers use stun guns across Maryland.
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced Wednesday that he has ordered the police department to examine its use of Tasers and review investigations into four deaths of people shocked by the stun guns fired by officers.
A federal court recently put police on notice: They could lose on-the-job immunity from civil lawsuits if they use a Taser to shock suspects in the face of nonviolent resistance. It was one of several rulings in recent years in which judges deemed it excessive force to use a stun gun on suspects who are resisting arrest but pose no immediate danger.
Baltimore police officers broke widely accepted safety limits for Tasers more than any other force in Maryland, and in nearly all cases fired the weapon at suspects who were not complying with police orders but did not pose a threat.
Baltimore police use of Tasers is often "unnecessary and unreasonable," including against juveniles and people with mental health problems, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The small girl waving the large butcher's knife was terrifying her mother. But Radiance Pittman's terror quickly turned to panic when her bipolar, 14-year-old daughter stopped threatening to cut herself and started threatening the police officers who had cornered her in the kitchen of her Baltimore home.