High Court Shuns Taser Cases, Leaving Police Without National Guidance


The Supreme Court, saying it won’t review a compromise decision of a federal appeals court, left police with no final guidance on the legality of their use of Tasers — devices that can stun unruly or disobedient suspects into immobility, or at least inflict considerable temporary pain, reports ScotusBlog.com. The Justices turned aside four separate petitions raising both sides of the issue: whether such stun guns' use is a kind of excessive force by police in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and whether police are entitled to legal immunity for their past use of such a device.

Police in various parts of the U.S. must check what the federal or state courts in their area have ruled on the subject — if they have. As of now, the lower courts are split on the constitutionality of Taser technology as a method of police control. The high court yesterday left intact a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declaring that it violates the Fourth Amendment to use a Taser to subdue a suspect, at least when the crime the police are investigating is not a serious one, the suspect does not pose an immediate threat to the safety of officers or bystanders, and the suspect is not “actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest” by fleeing.

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