WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court has decided that it will not review the appropriateness of stun guns used by police on suspects.
The high court on Tuesday refused to hear appeals from police in Hawaii and Washington, or people who were stunned by officers.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said officers could not be sued in federal court. But judges also said officers used excessive force by using stun guns.
A Maui woman was stunned-gunned in 2006 in her house by police who said she interfered with the arrest of her husband.
Last year, the federal appeals court threw out Jayzel Mattos’ claim that her constitutional rights were violated when police shocked her with a Taser in 2006. The court ruled that Maui police were immune from plaintiff Jayzel Mattos’ claims because the law on the use of Tasers was unclear at the time.
Mattos’ lawyer Eric Seitz and Daniel Gluck, senior staff attorney of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, have said the decision makes clear that police can use Tasers only under certain circumstances.
The Mattoses had sued Maui County and four police officers, including Ryan Aikala, who used his Taser on Mattos. Aikala is no longer with the force.
In Seattle, Malaika Brooks was driving her son to school in 2004 when she was stopped for speeding. Officers used a Taser three times when the woman, who was seven months pregnant, refused to get out of her car.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out Brooks’ case saying the police officers were justified when they used the Taser. The ruling prompted an incredulous dissent from one member of the panel who called the decision “off the wall” and said Brooks posed no threat whatsoever.
Brooks gave birth to a healthy baby two months after the traffic stop, but she said she still has scars from the stun gun.