Brooks v. City of Seattle: Ninth Circuit OK's Tasering of Pregnant Woman

Split panel; 48-page opinion; Tasers.  Might not be the last we've heard of this case (especially in light of the Ninth Circuit's opinion in Bryan v. McPherson) in which Judge Berzon leads her dissent thusly:

Here is what happened to Malaika Brooks, a pregnant mother, as she was driving her son to school one day: Two, soon three, police officers surrounded her. The officers thought she was speeding in a school zone; she says she was not. Brooks provided her identification when asked, so there was no doubt who she was or where to find her. The officers wrote her a ticket but she refused to sign it. Refusing to sign a speeding ticket was at the time a nonarrestable misdemeanor; now, in Washington, it is not even that. Brooks had no weapons and had not harmed or threatened to harm a soul.  Although she had told the officers she was seven months pregnant, they proceeded to use a Taser on her, not once but three times, causing her to scream with pain and leaving burn marks and permanent scars.
We have more Taser/Fourth Amendment/Section 1983 discussion here.  Our favorite post is entitled, "Tasers and the Fourth Amendment."  See also the post on Bryan v. McPherson.

2 comments:

  david

5:06 PM

I took a break from writing an academic paper I am currently working on which coincidentally examines the use of taser devices in correctional institutions. Not only is the conduct by the officers appalling, but visibly pregnant women is a class of people that even TASER International agrees that taser weapons should not be used on. The use of tasers on pregnant women violates every law enforcement and corrections taser use policy I have examined during my research. Thanks for the update on this case, is very interesting how this opinion is going to mesh with Bryan v. McPherson.

  Anonymous

4:44 AM

It doesn't mesh with Bryan v. McPherson...but Bryan v. McPherson doesn't mesh with the Supreme Court decision in Scott v. Harris, where the court clearly stated that levels of force, such as "intermediate" "less than intermediate" are irrelevant. The only consideration is whether the force appears to be reasonable under Graham v. Connor. All of this analysis regarding other available force options and use of force "contiuum" flies in the face of Scott v. Harris.