Grand Jury Recommends Sheriff’s Department Rethink Taser Training; Department Responds

After three police related deaths where a Taser was administered
by officers from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department
since 2008, a grand jury in San Bernardino convened to look at
the department’s Taser policy and
produce a report which was released June 28
. One of the
deaths mentioned in the report was Allen Kephart of Arrowhead,
Calif., who suffered 16 Taser exposures by officers during a
traffic stop in May 2011 because, “Some deputies believed their
tasers were not working.”

Kephart is not named directly in the report but the jury’s
foreman, E.H. Burgnon confirmed to that the jury was
refering to his death.

The grand jury offered several recommendations to the department
who reviewed manuals and training materials used by the department,
including making sure officers know if a Taser is working properly
so suspects are not subjected to repeated exposures and requiring
senior officers to keep track of the amount of exposures to one
person. The report was generally concerned that officers didn’t
know how to use the devices properly. From the report:

In the TP manual, there were 13 cautionary references to
avoid repeated, multiple, prolonged, continuous, or
simultaneous ECD [Electronic Control Device] exposures.
fact, in the case of the SBCSD TTA manual, there was no
information in this policy dealing with how many times a person can
safely be tasered. This is
discretionary, and each officer makes the decision.

The department disagreed with the recommendations in its
response filed August 20
, saying that they already had
procedures that addressed the concerns raised. In response to the
grand jury’s recommendation that the department needed to formulate
training to address the problem of knowing when the Taser is
working properly to avoid repeated exposures the department

Deputies are trained to transition to alternative force options
once the Taser deployment is deemed ineffective. Many deputies
voluntarily receive full taser charges to gain first-hand knoledge
of the physiological effects. This training is
designed to provide recognition of proper operation, thereby
minimizing repeat and prolonged use.

A lawsuit
was filed by the Kephart family
against the San Bernardino
County Sheriff’s Department. That suit was settled in June

Reason TV covered Kephart’s death as details were emerging in
The Killing of
Allen Kephart: How the Police Lost the Trust of a Law-and-Order
 And for more on Tasers, check out, Who’s Lethal? Police
or Tasers