Review finds stungun use on girl justified
November 6, 2012
The use of a stungun on a 14-year-old girl at Carson Middle school on Oct. 23 was a justified use of force, albeit a very unpleasant one, according to an internal use-of-force review, Sheriff Ken Furlong said.
“I don’t like tasing children,” he said.
The Taser did not injure the girl and further injuries to her were avoided. The use of force came about when the girl resisted being taken into custody in an office.
“It was quite apparent the juvenile was resisting with violence and hands-on attempts to control her” would have led to more injuries, he said.
The girl sustained bruising and abrasions as a result of the altercation in the enclosed office, Furlong said.
“The office environment proves to be a very, very dangerous area to make an arrest,” Furlong said. A fight in an office runs the gambit of dangerous items from immovable desks, sharp-ended whiteboards and furniture to bookshelves and sharp-cornered cabinets.
“After the use of the Taser,” the altercation stopped and “further injuries were avoided,” Furlong said.
Although the use of force was justified, the stungun was applied to the juvenile’s lower back, the sheriff said he does not enjoy the fact the force was used on her.
Deputy Jessica Rivera “acted appropriately” to the situation, Furlong said. She tried to use the lowest level of force, but the girl continued to escalate the situation and Rivera’s de-escalation tactics did not work.
“I don’t believe the officer had any other options available. It is evident there was a fight,” Furlong said.
This was only the second time a stungun had been used on a juvenile in Furlong’s 10 years, he said in October.
Furlong said the perception of the sheriff’s office in the middle school, because of the incident, has taken a licking and needs to be rebuilt. Outreach between the sheriff’s office and the students has taken a hit, saying, “We’re here to help them. We need to rebuild those bridges.”