Police officer standing next to a motorcycle with holstered taser

The New York City Taser abuse attorneys at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green have seen the catastrophic effects of excessive force used by law enforcement. While Tasers are considered non-lethal weapons, these powerful stun guns deliver a 50,000-volt shock that freezes muscles and causes excruciating pain. Their misuse by the NYPD has been a topic of growing concern and the subject of litigation citing police brutality.

When the unlawful or unwarranted use of a Taser by a police officer causes injury, victims may be eligible to sue based on civil rights violations. If you have questions regarding your case, reach out to the law firm of Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green for a free consultation with an experienced NYC civil rights lawyer. Our knowledgeable legal team will analyze the details of your case to establish whether Taser abuse occurred and calculate the full amount of compensation to which you have a rightful claim.

Taser excessive force cases: How law enforcement misuses Tasers

The NYPD and all law enforcement officials must follow specific rules regarding when and how to use stun guns. Officers are asked to give a verbal warning before using a Taser, which can only be used in the following situations:

  • To prevent a suspect’s escape
  • If the suspect is actively resisting arrest
  • In self-defense
  • Or to protect another person from physical harm

Stun guns are never to be used by police officers as a means of coercion or punishment. If an officer oversteps their bounds, and serious taser injuries result, victims may sue the police officer or department for monetary relief. Most civil lawsuits are brought for violations of the Fourth Amendment protection against the use of excessive force by law enforcement. 

Taser lawsuit settlements

Several high-profile Taser injury claims have made headlines in recent years. One California man, who suffered permanent brain damage after police shocked him with a stun gun, won a $5.2 million Taser lawsuit settlement. Many of these contentious cases are bolstered by video footage – taken by onlookers or even the police dashcam – that shows victims complying with demands yet still being tasered without reasonable cause.

Types of Taser and stun gun injuries

While Tasers can be useful to de-escalate threats in the right circumstances, they are too often misused by the NYPD, resulting in unwarranted bodily harm. Taser probes can penetrate clothing, where electrical currents cause searing pain and can lead to a number of injuries, including:

  • Seizures
  • Abnormal brain function
  • Eye damage
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Respiratory distress or failure
  • Damage to the central nervous system

According to Amnesty International, some 500 Americans have died over the past 20 years after being shocked with Tasers during an arrest or while incarcerated. Our attorneys fight for justice on behalf of individuals who suffered injury because of police brutality and misconduct with stun guns.

What constitutes reasonable force?

When immediate threats to safety are present, or a suspect becomes violent, police officers are allowed to employ reasonable force. But when does reasonable police force become excessive? The courts will often look to the following issues when determining if Taser misuse occurred:

  • Was the suspect violent or threatening?
  • Did the officer give a verbal warning before using the stun gun?
  • Did the suspect comply with police officer requests?
  • Was the suspect physically restrained when Tasered?
  • Did the suspect actively resist arrest?
  • Was the suspect fleeing the scene of a crime?
  • Was the suspect under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
  • Was the suspect in danger of injuring the officer or another bystander?
  • Was the suspect carrying a weapon?

Police departments like the NYPD have internal policies that dictate the type of force used to resolve escalating situations. This use of force continuum ranges from police presence to the use of deadly weapons, but officers can be held liable when these rules are ignored, and civil rights are violated.

NYC Taser abuse attorneys

When it comes to pursuing excessive force cases involving Tasers against the nation’s largest municipal police department, experience matters. Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green has been protecting the rights of New Yorkers who were unjustly injured for over 50 years. Put your trust in a New York civil rights attorney with a proven track record and dedication to fighting for the rights of those impacted by police brutality. Call our Manhattan office to arrange a complimentary consultation.

Additional Resources:

  1. NY Times, Tasers: Are These Police Tools Effective and Are They Dangerous? https://www.nytimes.com/article/police-tasers.html
  2. ABC News, How getting struck by a TASER affects the human body https://abcnews.go.com/Health/struck-taser-affects-human-body/story?id=55503687