Vermont changes Taser policy after incident with man with disability

Disability Rights Vermont has reached an agreement with the Vermont State Police to include people with disabilities as a “special population” in the state’s Electronic Control Device policy, for determining whether someone should be subjected to the use of a Taser.

Photograph of a Taser gun
Restriction on Use of Taser

The change was prompted by an incident on April 6, 2011 when state troopers arrived at the residence of a 23-year-old man with Down Syndrome. The man told the troopers he needed to be transported to a new residence, but then allegedly refused to get dressed and accompany the troopers when they tried to assist him. The troopers proceeded to use a Taser on him, prompting a lawsuit.

The lawsuit was settled earlier this month, with the individual receiving an undisclosed financial sum, according to an article in the Burlington Free Press.

The settlement also requires state troopers only use a Taser on people with disabilities as a last resort and requires them to undergo training to help them recognize symptoms of people with various disabilities.

“The actions taken by the state police, including the change of policy, are progress in the continuing effort to restrict the use of a Taser against individuals with disabilities for non-threatening disability-related behavior,” said A.J. Ruben of Disability Rights Vermont in a news release from October 23. “DRVT appreciates the effort put forth by the family of the young man to establish this policy change.”

Disability Rights Vermont is part of the federally funded protection and advocacy system and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.

One response to “Vermont changes Taser policy after incident with man with disability

  1. I don’t know how this particular justice issue could be meated out. There are visible disabilities and ones not visible. Same deal as minority issues. If it all comes down to it, I’d rather be tasered than shot to death. I’m just thinking here and may think differently upon more thinking but, if we sue every chance we get, pretty soon our cries will be like overly published dollar bills.

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