NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A Branford man is the 16th killed in Connecticut in the past 10 years after police use of a taser.
Jonathan Einhorn represented the family of David Mills, who died after a Hamden police officer used a taser on him back in 2007.
“They tasered him somewhere between five and 10 times until he was dead,” said Einhorn. Police say he was high on PCP and fighting officers on Helen Street when it happened.RELATED STORY:Stun gun deaths by police in Connecticut
“You know when you shoot your weapon what’s going to happen, but you don’t know when you use your taser what’s going to happen,” said Einhorn. “Does that person have heart problems? Is that person pregnant? Is that person standing in a pool of water?”
“Tasers are a very good option to have a less lethal option,” said University of New Haven professor Kenneth Gray. He’s retired from the FBI and teaches criminal justice. He says when an officer is trying to force compliance there’s always a risk, and believes a taser is an effective tool.
“Less than .25-percent of the time that tasers are used the person the taser is being used on receives serious injury or death,” said Gray.
He says policies are different in each department, but there are general guidelines.
“You don’t use tasers against children. You don’t use tasers againt the elderly. You don’t use it against pregnant women or a woman that claims to be pregnant,” said Gray.RELATED STORY:Man dead after being shocked with stun gun in Branford identified
“This is the first death by taser and reported under the new law,” said Atty. David McGuire of the ACLU of Connecticut.
“There have been suggestions from members of the public that when they’re using the tasers, they’re being used improperly and there are no guidelines to compare that to,” said Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield, D-New Haven. “Now we can actually see what’s really happening.”
Under the new law, whenever a taser is used the officer has to document the race of the person it was used on. They’re also required to write down the number of times it is used in any incident.
“Members of the public think that they’re [officers] outside the scope of what they’re supposed to do when they’re inside the scope, and sometimes they’re really outside the scope,” said Holder-Winfield. “Now, we have the information and we’ll know what’s going on.”
Plus, police have to release a report to the public in a timely manner.
“The person’s medical condition, the reasons for the use of force, whether other officers were injured,” said McGuire.
The report on the Branford death should be released to the public in a few weeks.