St. Paul Police Department Manual: They should not have Tasered Chris Lollie

“• The ECD shall not be used in any interview or interrogation situation unless the physical defense of the officer or others becomes an issue.

“• The ECD should not be used as a pain compliance technique including used to escort or prod individuals. …

“• A subject who is simply walking or running away from a scene and not posing assaultive/violent or potentially assaultive/violent behavior should not be exposed to the ECD.”

That’s what the St. Paul Police Department Manual says about prohibited use of “Electronic Control Devices,” one of which was deployed against Chris Lollie in January.  Chris Lollie is the St. Paul man who was waiting for his kids to get out of daycare in downtown St. Paul, and was then shot with the ECD and arrested after he refused to give police his name.(Taser is a registered trademark for one brand of ECD.) All charges against Lollie later were dropped.

There’s lots more. Section 246.05 of the police manual says the ECD should be used to control “potentially violent or assaultive subjects.” That’s definitely not what is shown in either Chris Lollie’s cell phone video or the downtown building surveillance videos released this week by the police.

The police manual raises another important question: Why wasn’t there a report long before now on the incident? The manual says, “Officers shall clearly articulate and justify each and every cycle used against a subject in a written report,” and also “Each time an officer deploys an ECD they shall file a written police report documenting the use of force and their supervisor will also file a Supervisory ECD Deployment Form.” Where are those reports?

Section 246.08 of the police manual requires that each use of an ECD has to be reviewed:

“Copies of reports which identify the use of force with weapons other than firearms shall be forwarded to the Saint Paul Police Department Internal Affairs Unit by the review officer, for analysis. These reports will include all incidents involving the use of the baton, aerosol subject restraint, electronic control device, or use of any ‘Weapon of Opportunity.’ The internal affairs unit will review the reports to ensure that the actions taken in the incident conforms to department policies and procedures. If the review indicates a violation of any department policies, procedures, or training an investigation will be undertaken by the internal affairs unit with the commander of the unit named as the complainant. This investigation will follow the procedures and policies as if a formal complaint had been received except that the chief of police shall receive a copy of the final report of the findings in each such case.”

That makes three reports:

First, the officer using the ECD is required to report in writing.

Second, that officer’s supervisor is required to file a written “Supervisory ECD Deployment Form.”

Third, the Internal Affairs Unit is required to review these reports and send its own report to the chief of police.

Shooting someone with “Thomas A. Swift’s electric rifle” (Taser) is serious business, as the St. Paul Police Policy Manual rightly reflects. Let’s see what the reports have to say. And if there are no reports, that calls for another level of review, not only for misuse of the weapon against a clearly non-threatening civilian, but also for failure to follow departmental procedures that closely regulate the use of this dangerous weapon.

(Thanks to Jim Ivey for alerting me to the Police Manual provisions.)

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