Taser Use Questioned
Posted: March 25, 2008 07:33 PM
A Nevada coroner has ruled the death of an Idaho man a homicide and now questions are being raised about why he was tasered during a traffic stop.
Nisha Gutierrez spoke with local law enforcement officials who say although officers are properly trained on the use of non-lethal weapons sometimes other factors play a role.
Dr. Ryan Rich died January 4th after a Nevada Highway Patrol officer tasered him on a freeway in Las Vegas and now an inquest into his death is underway to determine if the officer's actions were justifiable or criminal.
Lew Roberts, Las Vegas Metro Police Detective: "What we know right is obviously this individual resisted the trooper. There was a struggle. That struggle was physical in nature."
Locally, Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen says when his deputies go through a process to figure out the safest way to arrest someone.
Sheriff Lorin Nielsen, Bannock County: "The officers know that they do everything they can to try and bring that about with no force of violence or no sign of violence and then we have to go up steps. There are times you go from here to here real fast."
And even though non-lethal force like tasers and pepper spray are sometimes used there is always a chance that something unintended can happen.
Sheriff Lorin Nielsen, Bannock County: "We've had some people that have died because we handcuffed them behind their back because the pressure on their heart or their lungs was so much that we couldn't do that. These are very rare but when you're dealing with the population that we have we don't know and that's the biggest problems for the officers we don't know."
Rich officially died of a seizure disorder, now the coroner in Nevada is looking into the events surrounding his death.
Sheriff Nielsen says if you ever find yourself in this kind of situation the best thing to do is comply with officers.
Sheriff Lorin Nielsen, Bannock County: "All kinds of level of force have their problems and have their issues that could cause more serious damage that what was intended but the code says that were to use as much force as necessary."
Once a decision is reached in the inquest, a toxicology report should be released.
Rich's family says that report will prove vindication.
Randy Rich, Son Died after Being Tasered: "When that report comes out. I'm convinced and you can etch it in stone, there will be nothing that he's not supposed to already have already been taking."