Tasers are meant to be a less violent alternative for law enforcement, but the number of police Taser lawsuits indicates there's something else going on.
When compared to a gun, a Taser or stun gun is less dangerous since fewer people die from them. But that doesn't mean the weapons are harmless. They pack a powerful punch, and the barbs Tasers shoot out implant into your skin.
So what do you do if police have unfairly used a Taser on you? A lawsuit may be warranted, but there are a few things to consider first.
- Non-legal options. Filing a lawsuit is one way to deal with your complaints, but it's not the only way. You can also file a complaint with the police department and go through that process to have the police officer disciplined or removed. Of course, you can also combine that with the legal process so you can get the satisfaction of both.
- Criminal or civil? If you do decide you want to go through the legal system, then you have to decide what kind of case you want to bring. A criminal case may make you feel better, but a civil case will actually help to compensate you for any injuries you suffered. You could bring both or just one, although keep in mind that bringing criminal charges against a police officer can be difficult. Talk to an attorney about what choices are best for you.
- Document injuries and circumstances. It's true that most Taser-related injuries happen when you're not really able to stop and take notes. But keeping track of what happened and what injuries occurred is a good way to make sure you have evidence if you choose to bring a case. Consider asking for security tapes if the incident happened on camera.
- How were the barbs removed? When an officer shoots a Taser, it releases tiny bolts that attach to the victim to deliver a shock. But those bolts are sharp and barbed so that they can't easily be removed. If you've been hit by a Taser, only a medical professional should remove those barbs. If they were removed by a police officer, add that to your list of complaints.
- Police immunity. Officers and other public employees are sometimes given qualified immunity for actions they take while on the job. That means before you file a lawsuit, you may have to sue for the right to file a complaint at all. Don't give up though; an attorney can help you through the process and then assist with the real case as well.
- Oklahoma woman sues police for using excessive force after cop filmed firing Taser into her breast while she is handcuffed (New York Daily News)
- Don't Tase Me Bro: Boise Man Sues Over Excessive Shocks (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
- $2.8M Settlement in Taser Brain Damage Case (FindLaw's Injured)
- How to Sue the Police (FindLaw's Injured)