A State Supreme Court judge has ordered the City of Saratoga Springs to turnover to the New York Civil Liberties Union a full copy of its instructions to city police officers regarding the use of Tasers.
In October, the NYCLU filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s refusal to disclose public records concerning its Police Department’s use of Tasers. Subsequently, the city provided the NYCLU several documents concerning its Taser policy. One of those records, which lists procedures for using the stun guns, was redacted in three places. The NYCLU argued it was entitled to the full document.
In a ruling issued on May 10, Supreme Court Judge Thomas Nolan, Jr. ordered the city to turnover an unredacted copy of the document.
“The court’s decision makes clear that the city had no basis for withholding this information,” said Melanie Trimble, director of the NYCLU’s Capital Region Chapter. “This is a victory for the principle of open government and accountability to the public. Tasers are dangerous weapons and the public should know how officers are being trained to use these weapons and any guidelines covering their use.”
Tasers fire twin metal barbs that emit a 50,000-volt charge into an individual, causing the person to collapse from loss of muscular control. There have been numerous instances of people dying or being seriously injured after Tasers were used on them.
In March 2005, a teenager in Guilderland, a town outside Albany, was badly burned after being Tasered by police in a mall parking lot. In September 2008, a Brooklyn man fell to his death after police shot him with a Taser as he stood on the ledge of an apartment building.