When should police officers use a Taser?

Posted at 8:05 PM, Nov 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-13 11:19:32-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- After video was released of a Richmond man being Tased by South Boston police two years ago, some people are asking what is excessive force when it comes to Tasers.

Linwood Lambert died in police custody after the incident.

CBS 6 viewed the video tape with Dana Schrad, Executive Director of Virginia's Association of Chiefs of police.

Schrad said these types of situations are very difficult because there are many factors to consider.

"There are a lot of decisions that are made in a very short period of time while you're trying to protect both the safety of the individual and the officers in question,” said Schrad.

Schrad said officers have to also consider any innocent bystanders who may be put at risk in the process.

Dana Schrad, Executive Director of Virginia's Association of Chiefs of police

Dana Schrad, Executive Director of Virginia's Association of Chiefs of police

When asked how do you determine when to use excessive force, Schard said “Excessive force is never something you choose to use. You use force that is commensurate to the situation at hand.”

CBS 6 checked in with local police departments to find out the type of Tasers assigned to officers.

Both Chesterfield and Henrico use the Taser X-2. Richmond police use Taser X-26 and Taser X-26p models.

The devices can administer up to 50,000 volts of electricity that can incapacitate an average person, which is why Schrad says proper training is critical.

“You want to be trained in a variety of different scenarios because every scenario is unique,” said Schrad. “So, you have to look at the size of the individual.  How many officers are there?”

CBS 6 looked at the number of times officers deployed their Tasers. Henrico police gave us their numbers.

In 2013, officers used a Taser 25 times to subdue a suspect. Their officers used a Taser 41 times in 2014, and so far in 2015, it was used 44 times.

Tasers numbers

There were no reported deaths as a result of the Taser incidents.

Chesterfield police said officers used a Taser 18 times in 2013, 41 times in 2014 and 43 times in 2015.

We’re waiting to get numbers from Richmond police.

But Schrad says officers should not use the devices all the time.

"Tasers are never recommended for the use of really elderly people or very young people. If you know that someone has a mental or physical health problem that you take into consideration because that can accelerate the risk,” said Schrad.

Researchers say 500 people have died nationwide from Tasers since 2011.

But some police agencies stand by them saying the devices help to reduce fatalities.

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