An inquest is currently underway in relation to the death of Mark Duggan who was shot and killed by police in London on the 4th of August 2011.
The transcript of the inquest hearing on the 8th of October 2013 revealed how the Met Police’s elite firearms units use, and view, TASER weapons.
I was surprised to learn that all CO19 firearms officers do not routinely, individually, carry TASER as an easily accessible alternative to a conventional firearm.
A police sergeant given the codename “V59″ who was the team leader for the CO19 firearms team which stopped the vehicle Mark Duggan was travelling in gave evidence to the inquest, he said.
There were five Tasers amongst the team. It’s normal for the driver of each vehicle to be in possession of a Taser and there was one further Taser which I believe was on the Bravo car.
Judge Keith Cutler, acting as The Assistant Coroner, and chairing the inquest asked:
So the people getting out first on the passenger side, front and back, don’t have Tasers?
The response was:
No, sir, that’s a tried and tested tactic because it’s a — Taser is used for — generally for prisoner handling.
I’d like to see all police officers carrying conventional firearms to have access to TASER, so they’ve got the option to use a less lethal alternative.
A recent video from Berlin shows police there shoot and kill a naked man who in my view, if the officers had a TASER, might not have been killed.
I can understand that a police plan for stopping a vehicle could reasonably, based on evidence available, be carried out with conventional firearms drawn, as a proportional response to the level of threat. My concern though is that as the situation develops, and perhaps moves away from the plan, options need to be available to officers so they can deal appropriately with what they are faced with.
There may be some cases where there is a good reason why an firearms officer cannot reasonably also carry a TASER; perhaps if they are conducting surveillance for example but I think in general that alternative ought be there.