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  Challenging Use of Force Situations
February 18, 2013

From Chief Chris Magnus:

What follows are two recent incidents in which our officers utilized their Tasers under extremely difficult circumstances and during which the Taser was an incredibly valuable tool—perhaps even a lifesaving one.  The first incident involved an extremely large, strong, and aggressive individual who required multiple officers to affect an arrest.  Even physical force, pepper-spray, and baton strikes were not sufficient to take him into custody.  Taser darts cannot always penetrate thick clothing, nor do they work with the same level of effectiveness on every person.  Fortunately, in this case, the use of the Taser in “dry stun” mode ultimately allowed the officers to gain control over this very violent suspect.

In the second case, just the threat of Taser deployment was enough to cause a young woman not to charge at the officers with a large butcher knife she had in her hand.  In this instance, the girl actually wanted to be shot (“suicide by cop” is not an unusual challenge that officers encounter), but she did not want to be Tased.  This case shows the incredible restraint officers exercise, sometimes at great risk to their own safety.

Chief Chris Magnus
Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, 11:00 p.m., 900 block of Chanslor--Officer Fonseca attempted to initiate a car stop at Harbour and Chanslor for a speed violation.  The vehicle failed to yield, resulting in a short pursuit.  The vehicle crashed into a parked car the 2000 block of Chanslor.  The suspect then fled on foot with Officer Fonseca in pursuit.  Officer Fonseca caught up with the suspect.  The suspect turned and challenged Officer Fonseca.  Officer Fonseca attempted to use his Taser on the suspect (unsuccessfully).  The suspect again fled from Officer Fonseca.  Officer Fonseca pursued him through a back alley where he caught up to him again.  A struggle ensued, and Officer Fonseca’s holstered Taser dislodged from his duty belt.  The suspect was able to grab the Taser.  Officer Fonseca disengaged from the suspect.
Cover officers arrived on scene as the suspect began to wave the holstered Taser at the officers, while yelling at them to shoot him and kill him.  (It would not be unreasonable for deadly force to be used against a subject threatening an officer with a Taser since a Taser deployment would, in all likelihood, completely incapacitate an officer—even allowing a suspect to take the officer’s firearm.)  Officer Peixoto attempted to use his Taser on the suspect, but was unsuccessful because the suspect was wearing a large, thick security jacket.  Officer Reid pepper-sprayed the suspect, however it only had a minimal effect.  The suspect then ran and jumped over three fences, landing in the rear yard of 2023 Chanslor.  The suspect was still in possession of Officer Fonseca’s holstered Taser.  He turned towards Officer Mendler taking a fighting stance and pointed the Taser at Officer Mendler.  The suspect was growling and breathing heavily.
Officer Mendler struck the suspect with his baton four times with minimal effect.  Officer Mendler and Reid were able to get the suspect to the ground with the suspect still actively resisting.  Officer Mendler was finally able to use his Taser on the suspect in the lower back, followed by a “dry stun” to his leg.  At this point the officers were able to take the suspect into custody.  AMR responded and transported the suspect to Doctor’s hospital where he was medically cleared for booking.  He was then transported to the Martinez Detention Facility (MDF). 
The suspect, a 40 year-old male, was on active parole for Obstructing an Officer.  He was booked for the vehicle code violation, Obstructing an Officer, and violation of parole.  The officers investigated the suspect’s vehicle, which may have been stolen.  Fortunately, all the officers escaped serious injury. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013, 1:40 p.m., 3400 block of Richmond Parkway--Officers responded to the this location on the report of a 14 year girl who wanted to commit “suicide by cop.”  The reporting person stated that the juvenile had armed herself with a knife and said she wanted to die. Sgt. Hendricsen, Officer Platzner and Officer Agustin arrived on scene. Sgt. Hendricson and Officer Platzner went into the residence to speak with the juvenile. The girl’s mother stood in between the officers and the juvenile out of fear that the officers would shoot her child. The juvenile stood in the corner of the living room threatening the officers with a large butcher knife. The juvenile kept yelling at the officers for them to shoot her.
Sgt. Hendricsen was able to calm the juvenile’s mother down and explained to her that their intentions were not to shoot her child.  Sgt. Hendricsen and Officer Platzner tried to negotiate with the juvenile, but were unsuccessful. The juvenile then started waving the knife around and held it to her neck. Officer Platzner pointed his Taser at the juvenile. She immediately dropped the knife and stated, “I want to be shot, not Tased.”  The juvenile was then restrained and handcuffed. AMR was already on scene. The juvenile was placed on a 72-hour mental health hold for evaluation and transported to the Contra Costa County Hospital.