File this one under Unintended Consequences.
A Fayetteville man was shot more than once on Monday by a Fayetteville policeman, apparently during a struggle that followed a traffic stop. The 45-year-old man is expected to recover, so the story will be something short of tragic, but it still raises questions that demand answers, as is the case anytime a lawman fires a weapon.
Early reports are the shooting victim was not armed himself, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a danger. There was at least one police officer who witnessed the shooting, and the State Bureau of Investigation will investigate, which is routine in such cases, so we are confident the truth will emerge.
But here is the irony: The Fayetteville officer who shot the man didn’t have the option of using a Taser to subdue the man during the struggle. That’s because the Fayetteville Police Department pulled all 190 of its Taser X26s off the streets after a 56-year-old man collapsed and died in August after he was Tasered while police were trying to arrest him.
That case has racial implications as the man who died was black, and record reviews showed a disproportionate number of black drivers being stopped and searched by Fayetteville police. That might help explain what hindsight tells us was an overreaction by police.
Tasers aren’t supposed to kill, but are intended to stun a person so that he or she can more easily be subdued. There is a lesson here about volts and amps, but we will skip it and simply say that anytime a Taser is used, there is a risk of things going poorly because of a number of variables, including the victim’s health. But there is no question that a Taser is less deadly than a handgun.
Fayetteville police are waiting on a manufacturer’s test of the Taser x26s before they can be returned to the police officers to be used again. But if good sense prevails, the Tasers would immediately be handed back to the police officers, providing one more option before the use of a handgun.
The Fayetteville police, by removing the Tasers in an effort to enforce to add a layer of safety, have achieved the opposite.