BART police turn in Tasers

BART temporarily stripped its police force of Tasers April 15. The decision was a result two recent federal rulings, BART said.

Interim Police Chief Daschel Butler issued a memo (PDF) to staff Thursday suspending use of Tasers for two weeks. Officers will be retrained and will be able understand the revise Taser policy, Butler said, which will comply with the rulings.

By Reginald James Editor
"The rulings essentially say that an officer can now only use a Taser to defend his or herself or someone else's life," BART said in a press statement. "Previously, an officer, under certain circumstances, could also use a Taser to get a suspect to comply with a direct order."

The memo comes just days after a BART police sergeant in a moving patrol car shot a taser at a 13 year old on a bicycle leaving the Richmond BART, the SF Chronicle reports. BART claims the chief made the decision to retrain officers on the policy prior to the incident. Butler would not discuss the case because it is under investigation, but said that the darts did not hit the boy.

Interim police chief Daschel Butler confronts a protester from Brass Liberation Orchestra (BLO) at recent 'Justice for Oscar Grant' protest at Embarcadero Station in San Francisco.
Photo: Flickr user

"This will help officers avoid any confusion as to whether they are reaching for their Taser or their weapon."
Daschel Butler
Interim BART Police Chief
"The incident did somewhat accelerate the implementation of my decision to retrain officers under the newly revised Taser policy," Butler said. He added that the Taser policy will also limit how officers position tasers on their body, limited to the "weak arm, weak side draw position."

"That means if an officer is left handed, the Taser must be positioned on the right side of their belt or leg and if they are right handed, then the Taser must be positioned on their left side of their belt or leg," Chief Butler said. "This will help officers avoid any confusion as to whether they are reaching for their Taser or their weapon."

The decision also has implications relating to the BART police murder of Oscar Grant. The attorney for Johannes Mehserle, the former BART police triggerman who shot and killed the unarmed Grant on New Year's Day, claims his client thought he was firing his Taser and not his service pistol. Merserle's murder trial will begin in June.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More