Kearney, Hastings and Grand Island Police Respond to ACLU Report
Police in the Tri-Cities are defending themselves, after the ACLU accused them of misusing Tasers. Hastings, Kearney and Grand Island police think in the cases where they did use a Taser it was the necessary action. The ACLU thinks they could have used a different approach. The Grand Island Police Department was cited by the ACLU for misusing their weapons on two different occasions.
The department says in one cited incidence they used a Taser after a drunk male who violated his probation refused to obey commands in his hospital bed. “A Taser saved further injuries; saved destruction of property. You’re in an emergency trauma room with all kinds of instruments and potential weapons at this person’s discretion,” said Captain Dean Elliott. This was not the only incident the ACLU mentioned concerning Grand Island police. They say they used a Taser on a woman who was resisting arrest and striking an officer. “If a male officer would have gone hands on or use a baton or use other types of less lethal force on this female to get control, the injuries maybe would have been sustained or longer lasting,” said Elliott.
In its report, the ACLU says Kearney police used a Taser on a 10-year-old Kearney Public School student. Kearney police say that's not correct; they say the student was a 14-year-old high school student who attacked and punched an officer.
However, the Kearney Police Department says they will be reviewing the ACLU report to see if there are ways to improve their use of less lethal force. Hastings police were also targeted by the ACLU report for using a Taser on who someone who was spitting at them. Police report that is not the whole story. The say the suspect had Hepatitis C and officers used the Taser to stun the man long enough to put a spit hood on him. The ACLU hopes their report makes agencies include more demographic information of each suspect. “This had made very difficult to analyze the date and provide recommendations,” said ACLU Communications Tyler Richard. In the four situations cited by the ACLU they say they would have preferred open hand restraint techniques or wrestling the victim to the ground. Grand Island Police report they have never had any major injuries while enforcing the law with a Taser. They say if they use a baton or wrestle someone to the ground it could leave longer lasting injuries.