BART Considers Buying Additional Stun Guns

OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Bay Area Rapid Transit’s board of directors this week will consider spending up to $141,000 to buy 130 more Tasers so that all of its police officers would have their own stun guns.

The BART Police Department currently has 60 Tasers, and many officers aren’t equipped with the stun guns.

BART staff members said in a report that will be discussed at Thursday’s board meeting that giving each officer a Taser would increase “the officer’s level of familiarity with, care and confidence in the proper use and operation of the equipment.”

The issue of officers’ training and familiarity with Tasers was raised by lawyers for former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter last year for fatally shooting unarmed passenger Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale station in Oakland on Jan. 1, 2009.

Mehserle admitted that he shot and killed Grant after he and other officers responded to reports of a fight on a BART train, but he claimed that he had meant to use his Taser on Grant and fired his service weapon instead.

>> Photo Gallery: The Shooting Of Oscar Grant

Mehserle’s lawyers said Mehserle hadn’t been properly trained to use a Taser and wasn’t very familiar with the stun guns because he didn’t have his own Taser and instead had to borrow one that belonged to another officer.

BART staff members state in their report that Tasers “are an important less-lethal-force option that officers can use when lethal force is not required.”

They say that because Tasers can be used from a distance, they “provide an additional degree of safety for officers compared to other less-lethal-force options.”

John Burris, an Oakland civil rights attorney who has filed a wrongful death suit against BART, Mehserle and other officers on behalf of Grant’s family, said Tuesday that it would be “appropriate” for all BART officers to have Tasers.

But Burris said officers “should be properly trained on using Tasers, and Tasers should only be used consistent with the proper and reasonable use of force.”

The attorney said training should ensure that “weapons confusion doesn’t occur.”

Burris said he’s not convinced that Mehserle mistakenly used his gun instead of a Taser on Grant but that proper training should ensure that there are “no more tragic consequences” when officers confront passengers.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

  • Mark

    What the hell is wrong with these people? Before they buy any more tasers they need to change to a new design that has a handle that is different from their guns, i.e. more like a flashlight, so that they can’t use the excuse, like Mehserle, that they thought they were using a taser and not a gun. Until then they will have carte blanche to “accidentally” murder people they don’t trust and skate with a light sentence.

    • On the other hand

      It wouldn’t have been such an accident had stun guns been standard issue, so that cops were more accustomed to them.

  • Dixie

    I thought BART was strapped for cash.

  • adam

    I am very glad they are more funding for additional tasers. Good job on taking out the “DIRT BAG”! Mehserle is hero to law abiding citizens. Great JOB!

    • Mark

      Adam, we are a country of laws, not vigilante justice. That is one of the things that makes us better than the Iranians. Even “dirt bags” are entitled to their day in court. Maybe you should move to Iran where they have REAL “eye for an eye” justice. If you ask me, Mehserle is a dirt bag!

      • Mel

        And Mark, you are a moron.

  • Eliza Nishida

    they should teach the officers the difference between the two so they won’t shoot another unarmed passenger

  • BOB

    Its simple just take away the real guns and replace with stin guns.

  • The Cold Hard Truth

    This is too little, too late. BART should have had enough to equip each officer with their own Taser. It takes thousands of repetitions to instill “muscle memory” and make an action become reflex. Mehserle had only been carrying a Taser for three weeks and not even every workday over that period. He made a major mistake. It was unfortunate that the person died but sorry, he had a part in his end. He could have cooperated but that’s not how a gangsta’ gets down when dealing wif da po-po!

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