According to Roma Khanna of the Houston Chronicle.com the Houston police investigated 69 complaints about officer Taser use between December 2004 and May 2008. Of the allegations:
5 were sustained.
0 involved using the weapon on people.
3 prompted officer counseling.
5 remain under investigation.
56 were closed with no wrongdoing found.
Source:— Houston Police Department
Over the last four years, only five officers have been disciplined for misusing their Tasers, although not one of the five actually shocked a suspect, according to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle. Instead, HPD reprimanded officers for threatening people with their stun guns, repeatedly discharging them while off duty and brandishing the weapon in a dispute in an elementary school carpool line.
"If that is how they deal with family problems, how are they dealing with the public?" asked Shirley Baker, whose grandson was shocked by his officer stepfather.
Use of Tasers, sold as an alternative to the deadly force of firearms, has been controversial since HPD first purchased hundreds of them late in 2004. The weapon quickly triggered public criticism with findings that officers often used them on unarmed people who committed no crime and that the vast majority were black.
Houston Mayor Bill White in November 2006 called for an independent analysis, overseen by Controller Annise Parker's office, which is expected to be made public Sept. 8. Parker has been publicly critical, saying last year that HPD's system for tracking Taser use is insufficient and despite claims that each deployment is reviewed, it "can't (be proven) with a paper trail."
Police officials maintain the Taser is a useful tool that has reduced injuries to both officers and suspects. Each incident, they say, is closely scrutinized.
"To have (69) complaints and only a few sustained — that is reflective of successful use," said Assistant Chief Brian Lumpkin, who oversees the HPD internal affairs division. "The numbers show that we have used Tasers responsibly."
HPD officers deployed their Tasers 1,724 times between December 2004 and May 2008, triggering 69 internal affairs investigations. More than half began after citizens filed complaints. Five probes remain open, but investigators found no wrongdoing in 56 others.
Among the people who filed complaints were Thoang Do, 59, a woman shocked during an altercation at her laundromat. Read More>
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