Joe Levi:
a cross-discipline, multi-dimensional problem solver who thinks outside the box – but within reality™

Police Use of Taser May Violate American's with Disabilities Act

Donnell Williams from Wichita, Kansas had just gotten out of his bath tub, wearing only a towel, when he was met by a bunch of uniformed men pointing guns at him.

Police forced entry into Williams home while responding to a call reporting an alleged shooting.

Williams apparently refused to comply with officer’s commands to show his hands — the police were reportedly worried about their own safety. Williams said, "I kept going to my ear yelling that I was scared.  I can’t hear!  I can’t hear!" That’s when they shot him with a taser.

And that’s where the problems began. Williams is basically deaf without his hearing aid, which he’d removed to bathe. "I ain’t never been so scared," said Williams.

Police wish it had never happened, and once the facts were all sorted out, they repeatedly apologized to Williams.  "Do I wish there would have been some way they were notified in advance this gentleman was hearing impaired?  I certainly do.  No one is happy with the way it worked out," says Lee. Apparently officer’s don’t understand what it means when someone says "I can’t hear" and gives a semi-universal sign for hearing-impairedness (cupping one’s hand to one’s ear).

Williams was not permanently hurt in the incident.

To add insult to injury, the call turned out to be fake. Police say the call came from a cell phone, but they still don’t know who made it or why. Further, they had no idea at the time the call wasn’t real and that Williams is hearing impaired. 

With the information they had at the time, police say their choices were limited.

The case is being reviewed by the department, but questions have arisen concerning Williams’ civil rights and how the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) might be applied to this and future tasings.

Perhaps it’s time to re-classify tasers as "semi-lethal" (rather than "non-lethal" weapons) and restrict their use to the same cases where discharging of a traditional firearm would be warranted.



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