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Tasers:'Deep concern' at use of Taser during Kerry meeting in Florida

Amnesty International is deeply disturbed by video footage showing a student being Tasered by police during a meeting held by US Senator John Kerry at the University of Florida yesterday.

The video footage shows 21-year-old Andrew Meyer being escorted out of the meeting by police after continuing to pose questions to the Senator after his time to do so had run out. As he resisted police attempts to remove him, and with one arm already handcuffed, police shocked him as he lay on the ground.

Amnesty International’s Military Security and Police Programme Director, Oliver Sprague said:
“This incident is deeply concerning and a disgraceful abuse of the Taser.

“Tasers should only be used as an alternative to lethal force, in very limited circumstances. They should certainly not be used to subdue an unarmed, non-violent protestor, as was clearly the case during that meeting.”

Amnesty International believes that the use of a Taser against a non-violent protester who was not posing a threat to himself or others, constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

International standards on the use of force stipulate that officers should apply only the minimum amount of force necessary to obtain a lawful objective, and that all use of force should be proportionate to the threat posed and designed to avoid unwarranted injury or pain.

Oliver Sprague continued:
”Would people sit idly by and allow a police officer to baton a non-violent student a protest in the same way many did with the use of the Taser in this incident? This is a clear indicator of how acceptable the Taser has become in the USA.”

Remarking on the comments made by Welsh Chief Police Constable Richard Brunstrom earlier this month who suggested that Tasers may be used if a person was disobedient, Oliver Sprague continued:

“This is exactly what we want to avoid here in the UK. Tasers are potentially lethal weapons and are easily open to misuse. This is why there needs to be a very strict level of accountability in the use of the weapon and that only specialist firearms officers should use this weapon, as they have been rigorously trained to know both how and also under what circumstances the Taser should be used.

“A disobedient person or a non-violent protestor does not qualify as one of those circumstances.”

Amnesty International has consistently raised concern about the use of Tasers in the USA in routine law enforcement situations, including in some instances, as a weapon of first resort.

In the UK Amnesty International continues to urge the Home Office to insist that only specialist firearms officers are able to use the Taser in very limited circumstances, as an alternative to lethal force.

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