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TX: few Houston officers disciplined over Taser abuse

By pams
Tuesday, August 19, 2008 14:45 EDT
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Who is surprised at this? Sixty-nine investigations into alleged Taser abuse by members of the Houston Police Department only netted 5 officers worthy of any disciplinary charges.

The Houston Police Department has found no wrongdoing in some 1,700 incidents in which its officers intentionally fired a Taser, despite investigating about 70 complaints — including one officer who shocked his own stepson and another who discharged his stun gun on a 59-year-old woman during a dispute over laundry.

Over the last four years, only five officers have been disciplined for misusing their Tasers, although not one of the five actually shocked a suspect, according to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle. Instead, HPD reprimanded officers for threatening people with their stun guns, repeatedly discharging them while off duty and brandishing the weapon in a dispute in an elementary school carpool line.

“If that is how they deal with family problems, how are they dealing with the public?” asked Shirley Baker, whose grandson was shocked by his officer stepfather.

And look at this quote — the low number of disciplinary actions is being used to justify Taser use. Isn’t that convenient?

Police officials maintain the Taser is a useful tool that has reduced injuries to both officers and suspects. Each incident, they say, is closely scrutinized.

“To have (69) complaints and only a few sustained — that is reflective of successful use,” said Assistant Chief Brian Lumpkin, who oversees the HPD internal affairs division. “The numbers show that we have used Tasers responsibly.”

All it tells me is that it’s not in the HPD’s best interest to find cause, after all, none of the incidents that warranted disciplinary actions involved the Tasing of a suspect.

In the above-mentioned carpool incident, a woman allegedly “drove recklessly as she pulled up to the school” and officer Nichole P. Medrano confronted the driver, who got angry as Medrano (off duty at the time), took her keys and threatened her with the Taser. The officer was caught on tape saying “I will shoot your ass.” Medrano received a written reprimand.

Hat tip, Tasered While Black.

 
 
 
 
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