The New York Supreme Court approved the use of shocking a suspect with a Taser to force him to comply with a court order to give police a DNA sample.
An article by Courthouse News about the decision makes it clear the Taser -- made by a Scottsdale company -- was used like a torture instrument to force compliance. Police told the man, Ryan Smith, a suspect in a home invasion, shooting, and robbery, that he would be shocked if he didn't allow officers to swab his cheek for a sample.
When Smith refused, a cop shoved the business end of a Taser into the man's shoulder area and zapped him for four seconds. Smith then agreed to cooperate.
Makes us wonder what would happened if he hadn't cooperated. Would they have kept shocking him? Maybe tried water-boarding next?
From the article:
A video shows Smith handcuffed, seated on the floor with his shirt pulled up over his bare shoulders. Police can be heard telling him that the Taser would be "painful and unpleasant," but he persisted in his refusal, according to the judge. The officer applied the Taser to Smith's shoulder area, which caused him to cry out and pull away. The data record for the device showed it was activated for 4 seconds. "The video recording indicates that the defendant did yell out as if in pain and then agreed to comply with the order," Sperrazza wrote. Smith allegedly was unconscious when the swab was taken, and was arrested for refusing to submit to a court order.
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The article also says officers considered forcing Smith's mouth open. That option might not have been any better, and maybe using the Taser saved a few teeth. Either way, the cops come off looking thuggish.
A lawyer says there was another choice: Haul the guy before a judge to explain himself. We imagine that if Smith had continued to refuse, the judge could have ordered him locked up for contempt of court.
Arizona cops used to Taser suspects who resisted lawful orders passively, but they backed off that low standard. (Check out this shocking story about two Phoenix cops by our colleague Paul Rubin from a couple of years ago.) New York seems to be backsliding all the way to medieval days.
Good thing they didn't have Tasers back in the Civil Rights era.