State Could Pass 1st in Nation Stun Gun Regulation Law [FoxCT]

May 30, 2014

Fox CT

Connecticut appears to be on the verge of becoming the first state in the country to pass a law requiring police to track their use of stun guns.

It comes on the heels of several Taser related deaths in the state during recent years.

On April 13, 22-year-old Jose Maldonado died while in East Hartford custody. Officers said they shocked him with a stun gun because he was fighting them during the booking process.

According to the Connecticut branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, 14 people have died in the state after being hit by stun guns since 2005, and 10 of them were minorities.

Now, a bill sits before Gov. Dannel Malloy that would mandate reporting each time a stun gun is discharged.

“This legislation does not limit when or how police can use Tasers. It merely collects data on the people that are tased and how many times a Taser is fired,” says Connecticut ACLU staff attorney David McGuire.

The Taser would be plugged into a computer at the end of the officer’s shift. If it was discharged, the officer would also manually mark down the suspect’s age, gender, race and note whether the suspect sustained any injury.

McGuire says that Maldonado’s death created momentum at the legislative level, leading the bill to pass overwhelmingly.

Maldonado’s grandmother told Fox CT on Thursday night that she’s still too shaken up to speak publicly, but that she believes the law is good.

“I truly expect policy-makers and researchers in other states to look to Connecticut’s data to figure out what policies they need to craft, so Connecticut is truly a leader on this,” says McGuire.

State Sen. Jason Welch said he believes Connecticut is going in the wrong direction with this bill. Welch was the only one in the Senate to vote against the bill.

“It’s going to have a chilling effect on police officers using Tasers, which is a good alternative to deadly force, and is a good alternative to physical altercations,” says Sen. Welch.

He says he has no doubt the bill is an attempted first step toward eradicating Taser use within the state altogether.

Chief Anthony Salvatore, legislative chair for the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, helped create police officer standards specific to Tasers back in September 2013. He said he believes that as long as his officers can still use Tasers, then the tracking won’t be an issue.

“Anybody who uses one of those devices should be filing out a use of force anyway, so we don’t really see this as a problem,” said Chief Salvatore.