Taser Misuse: Suspect shocked for more than 30 seconds

KHON2 has learned that Honolulu Police Officers used their Taser weapons more than a dozen times last year to subdue suspects.

And we’ve also learned that one of those times the officer was disciplined for misuse.

Tonight, we get a look at the video captured by the camera on that Taser, and find out what went wrong.

When KHON2 obtained the first video from a Honolulu police Taser camera, it showed a suspect getting shocked in the back repeatedly.

The officer behind that Taser got 20 days unpaid suspension.

Now, we’ve got new video of another violation of the Honolulu Police Department’s electronic gun policy that got a 1 day unpaid suspension.

Watch as this traffic-stop near Mayor Wright Housing turns into a shock for a very long time while the suspect lies on the ground.

We showed the video to Tenari Ma’afala, the head of the State of Hawaii Police Officers Union (SHOPO) to find out more about what could have gone wrong.

We asked how long can you generally hold the trigger of a Taser down?

“That’s just a general rule that they take about, 5 second bursts,” Ma’afala said. “Best judgment [is used] depending on the suspect’s reaction to the whole circumstance. So if the person is still struggling and resisting the order of the officer, then the officer will just continue to deploy.”

But what’s bringing about Taser use in the first place?

“This guy’s in bad shape,” Honolulu attorney Michael Green said. “If there’s any resisting at all, before you’re going to have contact, you get tazed, and this type of a weapon can take down a buffalo.”

HPD shows Taser deployments declining: from 44 in 2010 to only 15 last year.

“Not a chance, not a chance, unless all of them are finding their way to my office because all I hear about is tasing,” Green said.

We asked Ma’afala if all Taser use was being reported.

Ma’afala says yes, “officers must complete a Use of Force report, and all reports are reviewed by the Professional Standards Office (formerly Internal Affairs).”

But this officer got in trouble not just for shocking for too long, but for misfiling the report about it.

“I’m not saying some of it isn’t warranted but it seems to be the weapon of choice right now,” Green said.

Police say every shocked person gets medical attention, and officers are not supposed to use it on fleeing or handcuffed people, disabled or elderly or in peaceful protests.

The device is meant to immobilize but can do far worse.

We asked Ma’afala if he thought that officers in general are taking the risks that can come with using a Taser seriously enough.

“Oh, without a doubt. That’s all part of the training they have to be aware of. If it’s misued, it could cause serious injury, it could cause death,” Ma’afala said.

“There are people that are being hurt to the point of where they may never recover physically. Now that’s better than somebody shooting a police officer or hurting a third party,” Green said.

Police on the street say still it’s being used correctly more often than the mistakes.

We asked if Tasers have been a valuable tool for the most part.

“Without a doubt. The guys that have used it, those who are certified in it, it’s a great tool to have of course from a deterrent standpoint, and when they do deploy it, it’s effective,” Ma’afala said.

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