McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 5, 2012

Experts weigh in on Taser use

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — A McAlester police officer was recently charged with a felony for firing his taser at point blank range at handcuffed woman after she allegedly spit on him. But when should a police officer use a Taser gun?

According McAlester Police Department’s Taser policy
“The Taser should be used to prevent a higher use of force and is not used to cause injury.” 
In October, McAlester Police Officer Sterling Lee Taylor-Santino pleaded not guilty to one count of felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He was released on his own recognizance pending a Dec. 14 hearing at 9 a.m.
He faces up to 10 years in the state penitentiary, if convicted, according to court documents. 
On a June 24 police video that can be seen at www.mcalesternews.com, Nakina Williams, 28, is seen on video with her hands cuffed and lifted behind her on a counter at the Pittsburg County Jail. She appears to spit at Taylor-Santino who then fires a Taser, striking Williams in the left breast.
According to McAlester Police Department’s Taser use policy The taser should be deployed only when it is “deemed reasonably necessary to control a dangerous of violent subject... and other attempts to subdue the subject “have been or will likely be ineffective.
 Dr. Geoffrey P. Alpert PH D. author of Understanding Police Use of Force: Officers, Suspects and Reciprocity said the McAlester’s policy is correct. 
Albert said the taser should never be used because an officer was spit on and especially if the person is handcuffed. “The use of force is justfied only to control a subject not to punish the subject.”
Pittsburg County Undersheriff Richard Bedford is a certified Taser instructor. He said the Taser should be used as a deterrent. He said it is at it’s most effective from the 21 to the 35 feet range and is designed to temporarily disable an assailant. He said although the effects which include total muscle incapacitation are very dramatic, they are not life threatening and only last for a short time.“You can still talk and think and breathe” Bedford said.
 And he said after being tased the affects are likely similar to a good workout. “Your muscles are very sore,” he said. 
Meanwhile Officer Taylor was charged with a felony he has been assigned to a desk job until the conclusion of the court proceedings, according to Jim Lyles Mcalester Police Chief.

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Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.