Down at the Volokh Conspiracy, legal scholar Orin Kerr posts a video of a recent police stop in Utah where the officer electrically shocks the driver with a Tazer for failing to comply with his instructions. Was the officer's decision to use the Taser a reasonable use of force? Here's the video:
I say the officer's use of force was unreasonable. The police officer was not clear about his intention to place the driver under arrest. The driver, albeit confused and mildly agitated, thought he was negotiating his citation throughout the encounter. The police officer did not refute this mistaken, yet not dishonest premise. The police officer did not indicate the offense the driver was charged with, or that any further discussion or debate should be saved for a judge. Lastly, the police officer did not in any way indicate that the driver's signing of the citation was not an admission of guilt, but instead allowed the officer to release the driver without arresting him.
Knowledge of this incentive would likely have led to marked change in the driver's reaction. Instead, the police officer used his weapon to subdue a man who presented no immediate physical threat to him. I say his actions fit the definition of unreasonable to the letter.
Furthermore, as part of the practical aspect of policing, the officer's conduct escalated the situation rather then subdued it. If I were his superior, I'd fire him for recklessness and unprofessional conduct.
How do you call it though? Was the officer's use of force reasonable, or unreasonable?