4th Circuit Establishes Bright Line for when Tazer Use is Reasonable

Posted by Sean P. CecilJan 20, 20160 Comments

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has made an important ruling regarding use of force, ruling that the use of a Tazer is only lawful when the person tazed poses "an immediate safety risk." Unfortunately for the plaintiff in the case, mentally-ill Ronald Armstrong, he died during the encounter that led to the lawsuit, and the court ruled that the officers who tazed him five times to get him to let go of a stop sign were immune because the law regarding use of tazers was not clearly established at the time. Fortunately, for the rest of us, it is now clearly established that law enforcement officers may not taze people absent an immediate safety risk. Absent such a risk, an officer using a tazer is using excessive force in violation of an individual's civil rights and may be liable. 

The case, The Estate of Ronald Armstrong v. The Village of Pinehurst, et al, can be read here