NYPD Introduce New Tactics to Reduce Use of Excessive & Lethal Force

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In light of the recent high-profile fatal police shootings of Austin Sterling and Philandro Castile, the issue of police misconduct and brutality is on the radar of police departments across the country. The NYPD are well aware of this, with the former police commissioner Bill Bratton making a commitment to try to reduce NYPD’s incidents of police misconduct.

According to the New York Post, the NYPD are investing $4.5 million in purchasing Tasers, as well as expanding the number of taser-trained officers to make up over a quarter of the force. Bill Bratton explains that the idea behind this is to provide officers with an alternative to guns, thereby avoiding incidents of lethal force.

However, whilst past incidents have shown that although this idea may be theoretically sound, in practice, officers have used tasers in many examples of police brutality. In the case of Chase Sherman, the use of a taser was lethal. Mr. Sherman and his parents were on his way back from his brother’s wedding in Florida when he began to hallucinate having taken synthetic marijuana. His parents called the police to help restrain him. On arrival the police pinned him to the ground and tasered him 15 times despite calls by Mr. Sherman that he ‘quit’. More recently, according to the New York Post, police officers tasered the wrong man when they searched a New York apartment. They targeted a man in his forties who was cooking soup at the time, rather than the 25-year old man, who was the subject of their arrest warrant. A report by the CCRB revealed that only 45 out of 155 incidents where tasers had been used by NYPD in 2014-2015, actually then resulted in an arrest. Further, according to Amnesty International, this so-called “non-lethal” weapon resulted in 340 deaths between 2001 and 2012.

The New York Times reveals that Taser, the company who supply the weapons, has been vigorously lobbying NYPD. Their close ties with police departments across the country including NYPD, have also resulted in their monopoly of the police body camera market. It is thought that these body cameras for officers will increase accountability and transparency. However, with Taser’s monopoly of the market, police forces are reluctant to test out competitors who may have better or more sophisticated equipment. As was seen in the case of Austin Sterling, where the officer’s camera became dislodged, the technology can falter.

If you have been the victim of police brutality or misconduct or a false arrest by NYPD, contact the attorneys at PetersonDelleCave LLP for a free consultation.