Attorney Gordon Black's opinion on the tasing incident has been released, and the Town of Brattleboro has issued the following press release saying, in part, that he finds "while the officers were acting within the then existing policy, the use of force by the officers was excessive."
He takes issue with the new "Use of Force Policy", saying that it is a "very broad grant of authority" and says that Tasers should not be used to punish, or against anyone passively resisting.
Full report is available on the Town site (link below)
"Memorandum from the Selectboard regarding the Report:
On July 24, 2007, two protesters were arrested by the Brattleboro Police Department for unlawful trespass after trespassing on a privately-owned vacant lot on Putney Road. In arresting the protesters, officers used a Taser.
Given the circumstances of the arrest, the Brattleboro Selectboard retained Attorney Gordon Black from Bennington County to conduct an investigation as to whether the use of force by the officers was justified within the department's then existing use of force policy. Attorney Black was recommended to the Selectboard by the Town Attorney.
The Selectboard received the final report on Tuesday, February 5, 2007. Attorney Black's opinion is that while the officers were acting within the then existing policy, the use of force by the officers was excessive.
In addition, Attorney Black recommends a more clearly defined use of force policy that incorporates language that officers be allowed to use a Taser only on suspects exhibiting "active aggression" and who are deemed likely to harm themselves or others, using the "reasonable officer" standard. He recommends "active aggression" be defined as an assault or imminent assault.
The Town Manager is in the process of making the recommended changes to the Brattleboro Police Department's use of force policy. Any and all disciplinary action against the officers is a personnel issue and will be handled internally.
The report is available on the Town website at: www.brattleboro.org. A copy of the report is available by request to the Town Manager's office at 251-8100."
Brattleboro Tasing Report