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Taser and gun mixes raise concerns about post-shooting training and design in Minnesota Reuters

© Reuters.File Photo: X26P Taser gun on display at the Taser booth during a meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in San Diego


Tim Reed and Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters)-The company that manufactures taser guns has implemented design features and training recommendations to reduce the potential for law enforcement officers to confuse handgun electric shock weapons when using force. say.

However, officials said she accidentally pulled a gun instead of a taser after police officers shot dead a black man in Minnesota on Sunday, experts say there are still problems with taser training and weapon design. He said it was clear.

At least 18 police officers have said so in the last two decades, according to data collected by former police officer Jon Peters, who was an expert witness in the prominent “weapon turmoil” case, including the fatal shooting in 2009. I made a lot of mistakes and sometimes had fatal consequences. In California.

20-year-old Daunte Wright died on the outskirts of Minneapolis in the Brooklyn Center after a city police chief called it an apparent “outburst” by a police officer who pulled a gun instead of a taser during a post-traffic struggle on Monday. ..

26-year veteran officer Kim Potter of the Brooklyn Center Police Department and police chief Tim Gannon resigned on Tuesday. Investigation into the case is ongoing, and the department has yet to determine why Potter is pulling the wrong weapon.

Civil rights advocates are opposed to the idea that Wright’s death was a coincidence. Police forces use experts said in an interview that there was not enough information to assess what went wrong with the shooting on Sunday.

Philip Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, said designing a taser gun remains a major issue.

“What we see is that in these cases police officers often act in a way that contradicts law enforcement training,” Stinson said. “These devices look and feel like pistols. That’s the central issue.”

Arizona-based Tasers manufacturer Axon Enterprise (NASDAQ :) Inc said efforts to minimize confusion include giving weapons different grips and making them heavier than guns. Said in the email. Taser guns are also available in yellow as opposed to black guns, the company added.

“Motor memory”

For many professionals, the biggest problem with weapon confusion is inadequate training of taser guns.

“On average, recruits pull about 5,000 guns at police academy, but Taser guns will pull at most 10 times,” said Peters, director of the Nevada-based Detention Prevention Institute in custody. It was.

As a result, in stressful situations, officers’ “motor memory” can “and you go for your gun,” Peters said.

Peters testified as an expert witness in the trial of former Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer Johannes Messelle, who fatally shot a man named Oscar Grant in Oakland, California in 2009. Mehserle was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to two years in prison. According to Peters, Messelle is one of two US police officers who will be held criminally liable after confusing the Taser pistols.

Former police officer and former Taser Master instructor Mike Leonesio said there are no studies demonstrating that taser colors make a difference in the heat of stressful encounters.

“In the training I did, officers often don’t even remember drawing weapons or their appearance,” said Leonesio, who advocated further training to avoid such confusion.

Axon recommends that officers place their taser guns in a separate holster from the gun, hold them on the non-dominant side of the officer, and place the gun on the dominant side. Ultimately, each police agency creates its own policy.

The Brooklyn Center police manual states that police officers must place their taser guns “on the reaction side holster on the other side of the mission weapon.” Police officers also need to be trained at least once a year, and training should include “performing reaction hand draws or cross draws to reduce the chance of accidentally pulling or firing a gun.” there is.

Police did not answer questions from Reuters about Potter’s device location, her overall training history, or the time of taser training she received each year.

The manual states that police officers need to give a verbal warning before using the taser. In the body camera footage released from the Sunday incident, you can hear Potter yelling, “Taser, Taser, Taser!”. Before shooting Wright with a gun and yelling, “Oh my god, I just shot him.”

Paige Fernandez, a police policy advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the question of whether Potter mistaken for a taser gun is a distraction from the comprehensive issue of systematic racism within the police. Said. Fernandez said she believed that such racism affected Wright’s death.

“Police as an institution is a problem,” Fernandez said.

Taser and gun mixes raise concerns about post-shooting training and design in Minnesota Reuters Taser and gun mixes raise concerns about post-shooting training and design in Minnesota Reuters

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