Excessive Use of Force? Watch the Video and Decide for Yourself

          In a recent federal case called Buckley v. Haddock, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals was asked to decide whether a deputy sheriff's repeated use of a taser gun while trying to arrest a motorist by the side of the road in Washington County, Florida constituted excessive use of force in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  In ruling that the deputy did not use excessive force, the Court stated:

          "Needless to say, officers acting alone may not always use any and all force necessary to complete an arrest without assistance.  If Deputy Rackard had used more severe techniques (beaten [the motorist's] head with a club or shot him, for example), this case would be a different case.  Here, the record shows that Deputy Rackard only used moderate, non-lethal force; and he did so only after reasoning with [the motorist], then after trying to lift [the motorist], and finally after repeatedly warning [the motorist]-a warning given before each use of the taser-that a taser would be used. In short, Deputy Rackard gave [the motorist] ample warning and opportunity to cease resisting before the deputy resorted gradually to more forceful measures. Even then, [the motorist's] injury was not great; and the deputy holstered his taser after using it briefly three times."

          However, one of the judges on the appellate court disagreed stating:

          "I write to express my view that the Fourth Amendment forbids an officer from discharging repeated bursts of electricity into an already handcuffed misdemeanant—who is sitting still
beside a rural road and unwilling to move—simply to goad him into standing up. I also conclude that at the time of the incident, Deputy Rackard was on fair notice that his conduct was unconstitutional. Not only did Deputy Rackard unnecessarily discharge his taser gun against Mr. Buckley three times, but each time he did so, he repeatedly prodded Mr. Buckley’s body with the stun gun’s live electrodes—inflicting additional pain and leaving Mr. Buckley with sixteen burn

          Did Deputy Rackard use excessive force when he repeatedly tasered the motorist?  Because the entire incident was captured on a police video camera, you can view the video for yourself and come to your own conclusion.

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