U of Alabama party broken up by police with stun gun: Right weapon? (+video)
Three police officers were suspended after videos showed Tuscaloosa, Ala. police using a stun gun and baton on University of Alabama students Sunday.
Three Alabama police were placed on paid leave Monday after videos surfaced online showing the officers using a stun gun and a baton to break up a party and arrest three young people near the University of Alabama.
The footage sparked outrage and complaints of excessive force, reigniting a debate about whether police are using stun guns more than they should.
Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson said that he is "deeply disappointed" in how his officers responded.
The incident occurred after police were summoned shortly after 3 am on Sunday to deal with a complaint about loud music, the department said.
In the videos, a Tuscaloosa officer at the apartment's door, arguing for several minutes with occupants who refuse to exit, the Associated Press reports.
"Please let go of him. You are illegally entering," one of the young men says while an officer tries to lead another person out of the apartment.
The Tuscaloosa Police Department released a statement saying that the incident is under an internal investigation.
"A full investigation of the circumstances that are depicted in these videos will be conducted and all appropriate measures taken to ensure the integrity of the Tuscaloosa Police Department in serving the citizens of Tuscaloosa," the statement posted on the department’s Facebook page read.
The University of Alabama commented on the matter Monday afternoon in a series of tweets.
The three students were charged with obstructing governmental operations.
The use of stun guns by police is under increasing scrutiny. In August 2013, a young graffiti artist in Miami Beach, Fla., died after police jolted him with a Taser stun gun. Israel Hernandez-Llach was spray-painting an abandoned McDonald's and ran away when confronted, failing to heed officers' commands to stop, according to police accounts.
The incident sparked debate on whether the police are relying too much on stun guns.
At a time when police departments say offenders are becoming more violent and officer injuries are on the rise, Tasers have become an invaluable tool, allowing officers to subdue suspects without deadly force. But critics say police have become too enamored of them. , and they point to the incident in Miami Beach, Fla., as evidence that the use of electroshock weapons is too often replacing caution and common sense.
The AP reports that,
Stun guns have become an extremely common policing tool, deployed in more than 15,000 U.S. law enforcement and military agencies, according to a 2011 National Institute of Justice report. TASER International Inc. says it has sold more than 800,000 of its devices to law enforcement agencies, which have used them more than 2.3 million times in the past 20 years.
The overall record shows Tasers are "safe, effective and accountable," said Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company. "But it's not a magic bullet. ... There is no magic bullet."