Report called for enhanced training, greater communication

Posted Aug. 14, 2014 @ 7:28 pm
Updated Aug 14, 2014 at 7:33 PM

A little more than a year before Dante Parker died while in San Bernardino County Sheriff’s custody after having been stunned with a Taser multiple times, a county grand jury committee urged the Sheriff’s Department to implement enhanced Taser training while calling for greater communication among on-scene deputies.

In its June 2013 report — an examination spurred by three reported Taser-related deaths in the county since 2008 — the committee keyed in on a particular desire to eliminate repeated, continuous or prolonged use of the Taser stun gun.

The committee found, in detention scenarios where the target wasn’t showing signs of compliance or exhibiting neuromuscular incapacitation, “officers have incorrectly assumed the Taser unit was not working properly, thereby leading to potentially unnecessary discharges.”

According to the report, the department-issued Taser Model X2 — confirmed by sheriff’s spokeswoman Jodi Miller on Thursday to be the type used on Parker on Tuesday night — “does not provide any active indicators such as a warning light or sound indicating the unit is active and passing an electrical charge into the target.”

Instead, deputies are taught the “Silence is Golden” rule, which indicates that no sound means the Taser is discharging electrical current into the target; a sound means current is arcing in the air.

The committee recommended expanding training regarding the rule to address instances when the target does not comply or exhibit neuromuscular incapacitation, also known as NMI. It also recommended requiring greater communication on scene, increasing hands-on training with Tasers, focusing on identifying when a Taser discharge is effective and knowing whether the Taser is operating properly.

In an Aug. 1, 2013 written response to the report, Sheriff John McMahon said comprehensive training was predominantly hands-on, and that deputies learn alternative force options upon recognizing the Taser isn’t working or effective.

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