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Supreme Court agrees police violated constitutional rights of suspects

The Supreme Court has upheld a lower court's decision that police officers used excessive force by using a Taser gun on women who were not posing a safety threat to the police officers, and in doing so violated the constitutional rights of the women who were not resisting arrest.

One of the women was seven months pregnant when she was pulled over by law enforcement officers who said she was speeding. The officers said that the woman had been driving 32 miles per hour in a school zone where the speed limit was 20 miles per hour.

The woman denied that she had been speeding and refused to sign the ticket or get out of the vehicle. The officers knew she was pregnant and purposefully avoided shooting her stomach with the Taser, but delivered jolts to her arm, thigh and neck. Her baby was born healthy, but the woman still has permanent scars.

The other woman who sued was shot with a Taser after she stepped between officers and her husband during a a domestic abuse incident. Even though it was ruled that the police officers violated the rights of the women, they have immunity from being sued. This is because the incidents occurred in 2004 and 2006, when the Taser guns were just beginning to be used by law enforcement, which means that what constitutes the proper use of the stun guns was not established enough for the officers to have knowingly violated the rules. If these incidents happened today, whether in New Jersey or elsewhere, it is likely the officers would not escape liability.

Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight, "Supreme Court won't review police Taser use cases," Jim Viccini, May 29,2012

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