Friday, July 31, 2009
"Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle" and ethics
And so science has given us another piece of technology that poses ethical issues...the "TASER" or the "Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle" an acronym based on a popular eponymous boy's literary adventure series decades ago. Essentially it is a weapon used to subdue a violent or potential violent individual that poses a threat to the police officer[s] by providing an electrical charge that is painful and debilitating in paralyzing leg muscles thereby forcing the individual to collapse on the ground ["Get on the ground"..."Get on the ground"] and subsequently restrained by the police. Remember that most of these individuals are "fleeing" suspects where deadly force [fire arms] by the police is prohibited.
In 1985 The Supreme Court rules that "The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape. Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so. It is no doubt unfortunate when a suspect who is in sight escapes, but the fact that the police arrive a little late or are a little slower afoot does not always justify killing the suspect."
And too, there are circumstances involving unruly individuals and threatening situations to an officer's safety. But this sometimes becomes quite subjective where decisions must be made in seconds and they aren't always good decisions...people have died. I am not confident that the police are capable of making a sound judgement where alternate solutions may be applicable. The bottom line is that errors are made and people die for a wrong analysis of TASER employment. And to make things worse, the manufacture of TASERS, Taser International, has introduced a commercial version for the concerned citizen called the C2...MARVELOUS!
First hand experience...