You already know that BART cops are having their Tasers taken away from them today, but did you get why this happened now? Reports from KTVU say that the temporary ban on Tasers was prompted by an officer’s use of the device on a 13 year old kid — and, better yet, the officer didn’t even bother to report the use of force for days after the incident.
According to BART, Interim Chief of Police Daschel Butler had been planning on retraining their officers in Taser use for some time, but agreed that “a incident a few weeks ago involving a police officer who fired a Taser at a suspect…did somewhat accelerate” the decision to take Tasers away from the force.
The incident in question? Butler refused to give details, but KTVU says that a BART police sergeant responding to the report of an assault at the Richmond station on April 1 “was pursuing a 13-year-old boy who was fleeing the scene on a bicycle and reportedly deployed his Taser at the teen through the passenger window of his vehicle.”
The cop reportedly missed the kid, and no one was injured. However, since recent court decisions have determined that Tasers should only be used “defensively, not in a pursuit,” BART has revised their Taser policies — policies that, if KTVU’s report is accurate, were not followed in this case.
In addition, though BART PD is supposed to report any use of force incidents immediately, “it appears that the report in this use of force incident may have come days later, just before the chief was actually notified himself.” Concerns are also being raised that, in this case, the alleged force-user was a supervisor, who should, ostensibly, know better.
BART says that an internal investigation of the incident is underway, but for now, the officer remains on duty and has not been disciplined.
In further evidence of a communication breakdown, BART board members were unaware of the Taser takeaway, and got wind of it via media reports. Says board member Lynette Sweet, “Channel 2 called me this afternoon: ‘Do you have a comment on Tasers being taken away because of this incident?’ It was the first I heard of it.”
BART’s board is expected to discuss this issue in a closed-session meeting planned for today, in which they also expect to interview four finalists for the BART police chief position.
Sweet says the Taser issue will be part of the interview, no word if, in the words of twitter user Anna Taylor, they will be asked about “shooting people to death w/bullets.” They hope to come to a decision on the new chief this afternoon.