A federal appeals court yesterday issued one of the most comprehensive rulings yet limiting police use of Tasers against low-level offenders who seem to pose little threat and may be mentally ill, the Sacramento Bee reports. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit criticized a San Diego County officer who without warning shot an emotionally troubled man with a Taser when he was unarmed, yards away, and neither fleeing nor advancing on the officer.
There have been at least nine Taser-related fatalities in the Sacramento region. A 9th Circuit panel affirmed a trial judge’s ruling that the level of force used by a San Diego County officer was excessive. The officer’s “desire to quickly and decisively end an unusual and tense situation is understandable,” Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote. “His chosen method for doing so violated [the victim’s] constitutional right to be free from excessive force.”