Subject: RE: 15 year old kid tasered twice while on the ground!
Date: September 21, 2005 6:15:57 PM PDT
Cc: email@example.com, DBenson@police.ci.portland.or.us
Dear Mr. XXXX:
I appreciate the time you took to write me regarding the incident on September 8. Anytime police officers are forced to use force as they perform their duties it is rightly a cause for concern for both the public and the Police Bureau. The Police Bureau carefully reviews uses of force from a number of perspectives to determine if the use of force was justified. This includes if there were other options available, could have the officer(s) used other tools or techniques, were the communications skills used by the officers appropriate just to name a few of the considerations.
In this situation the officers on-scene were dealing with a suspected drug dealer who was later found to have illegal narcotics on his person and admitted to illegally selling them. When officers attempted to arrest him he struggled with them and refused to allow them to control his hands and handcuff him. When individuals struggle and wrestle with the police it poses a significant risk of injury to both officers and the person involved. One of the primary reasons the Taser was introduced was to limit these struggles so that they could quickly be resolved and reducing the injuries received by both the arrested subject and the officers. To date, the adoption of the Taser has drastically reduced injuries to both officers and the subjects they encounter both in Portland and around the country.
On the issue of the subject's age. Officers consider a variety of factors including age, size, strength and behavior. In this instance officers were dealing with a 16 year old male that was physically capable of injuring them and/or himself in the struggle. The application of the Taser was, in the officer's judgment, the best method to cut short this struggle. The subject was Tasered while on the ground because he continued to refuse to comply with the officer's verbal instructions. It is also worth noting that the subject did not appear to suffer any ill effects from the use of the Taser. It is also important to remember that it was a young teenage boy who shot and seriously injured Sergeant Damon Coates of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office on January 9, 2003. To assume, that by virtue of their age, a teenager is not a threat to the safety of officers is simply not true.
I do appreciate your comments and thoughts. Public comment makes us consider what and how we provided service and work with our community. However, if you don't feel this response adequately addresses your concerns you are free to contact the Independent Police Review Division at (503) 823-0146 who will review your concerns.