Local law enforcement won't shelve Taser

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 28, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
Despite a rash of taser deaths in Charlotte and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department shelving their Tasers, law enforcement agencies in Rowan County said they are not planning to stop using their stun guns. Salisbury Police Chief Deputy Steve Whitley said the city’s department has annual Taser training for officers.
Whitley said the department does not plan to make any changes to its policy. “Our training is sufficient,” Whitley said. “The equipment is new. We don’t have any reason to review it based on what happened in Charlotte.”
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police suspended use of Tasers on July 20 after Lareko Williams, 21, died after being tased by officers. Williams was reportedly beating and choking a woman at a light rail train station late that night.
Just one day before, on July 19, a federal jury awarded $10 million to the family of Darryl Wayne Turner, 17, who died after an officer shocked him at a Charlotte Food Lion grocery store where he worked.
CMPD reported officers will not use Tasers for 30 to 45 days, while the city reviews Taser policies and procedures.
Whitley said the department has never had a Taser-related death. “The fact that we have
Tasers is a blessing,” Whitley said.
Whitley said Salisbury Police review each time a Taser is fired and evaluate if the action taken was appropriate and if the equipment “performed like it’s supposed to.”
Salisbury isn’t the only police department planning to keep Tasers in officers’ hands.
Spencer Police Chief James Michael said his department will review its Taser policy but does not expect to change the protocol. “We’re going to continue utilizing them,” James said.
James said Spencer Police will have a four-hour training session in the next few days on their Taser policy.
East Spencer Acting Police Chief Darren Westmoreland said his department is planning to review the Taser policies.
“We have not addressed anything yet,” Westmoreland said. “We just talked about it this morning. We’ll be looking at that and reviewing our policy.”
Rockwell Police, Landis Police and China Grove Police could not be reached for comment.