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Tasers see steady use with Richmond County Sheriff's Office

Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 5:50 PM
Last updated Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013 8:27 PM
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Seven months after their introduction, Tasers are seeing steady use with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.

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Richmond County Sheriff's Deputy Larry Thigpen shows the Taser that was issued to officers this year.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Richmond County Sheriff's Deputy Larry Thigpen shows the Taser that was issued to officers this year.

At the same time, the sheriff’s office has seen a decrease in injury to officers and civilians, Lt. Calvin Chew said.

“Usually, (the officers) would have to fight with the individual to subdue them, but with the Tasers, the injuries for both the officers and the suspects have gone way down,” he said.

Chew said the sheriff’s office has used the stun guns in the Augusta-Richmond County Jail and the Charles B. Webster De­tention Center since Jan­uary. The nonlethal device was made available to more than 300 deputies on patrol in March.

As of Tuesday, 156 Use of Force forms have been filed with the office’s Internal Affairs department in regard to Taser use. Chew said that deputies are required to fill out the forms any time the weapon is drawn.

According to the forms, deputies have shot Tasers 85 times, missing their target on three occasions. The “drive stun” function, which allows the officer to use the Taser against someone’s body instead of firing the gun, has been used 13 times.

The weapons don’t have to be discharged to be useful, Chew said. Officers have drawn Tasers 56 times in Richmond County without firing the weapon.

“The officers are trained to draw the Taser and advise the subject that they will use it unless they comply with their commands,” Chew said. “Just the thought of being tased is enough to stop some people.”

The use of Tasers by the force hasn’t been without incident. In July, George Harvey, 39, of Augusta, died while police attempted to apprehend him at the Chevron Food Mart at 1501 Gordon Highway.

Officers used a Taser on Harvey, who later went into cardiac arrest. He was taken to Georgia Regents Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Deputies Mat­thew Sanderson, Prizette Pres­berry and Chadrick Scott were put on administrative leave while the Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigated the death.

GBI Special Agent in Charge Pat Morgan said Friday that the investigation has concluded, but the results have not been made public. The case is being handled by the district attorney’s office.

“(Deaths) are very rare,” Chew said. “Usually it’s attributed to some other factors. Sometimes they’ll have a medical condition or they’ll be on drugs. They happen, but it’s very rare.”

Tasers have been used to prevent death. In April, The Augusta Chronicle reported that deputies used a stun gun on a woman with a .22-caliber revolver pointed at her face, threatening suicide. The woman dropped the gun after being stunned.

TASER USE IN RICHMOND COUNTY

As of Aug. 10, Tasers had been used 156 times since they were issued to more than 300 Richmond County sheriff’s deputies.

Subject shot with Taser82
Taser pulled but not fired56
Used as “drive stun”13
Officer fired Taser but missed3
Accidental discharge2

Source: Richmond County Sheriff’s Office

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Riverman1
83491
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Riverman1 09/15/13 - 03:33 am
1
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MCG?

I wonder what the stats are for the MCG police force? That idiot tased the man he pulled over driving through for no reason. Has a lawsuit come about because of that incident?

bdouglas
4972
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bdouglas 09/15/13 - 10:56 am
1
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"Tasers sees steady use"??

"Tasers sees steady use"?? C'mon, AC!

nocnoc
42425
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nocnoc 09/15/13 - 11:08 am
1
0
Would like to know a lot more about

the 1 paragraph that caught my attention was regarding the George Harvey death by Taser.

"GBI Special Agent in Charge Pat Morgan said Friday that the investigation has concluded, but the results have not been made public. The case is being handled by the district attorney’s office."

Sweet son
10323
Points
Sweet son 09/15/13 - 01:30 pm
2
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@Riverman1

And, Officer Martin is still on the force even after telling some tales on the witness stand. Wonder if he got one of the recent 'secret raises' given to MCG Police! AC you need to check this out!

September is Ovarian Awareness month.

Know the symptoms of this deadly disease!

specsta
6505
Points
specsta 09/15/13 - 03:55 pm
1
0
Earn Trust and Provide Safety

Police all over this country have created a situation that is not going to get any better, unless standards and training are emphasized with a zero-tolerance policy for error. Police have eroded the trust that citizens should have toward an officer of the law. And some jurisdictions in the US don't even care - it's an "us against them" mentality.

An encounter with the police for a law-abiding, unarmed citizen can result in death. This should not ever be the case. But there are numerous incidents in America of police killing the very person who was asking them for help. If an innocent citizen acts a certain way, is ignorant of what to do when encountering the police (like taking their hands out of their pocket), the result can be tragic. There are too many trigger-happy cops in the USA.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/15/justice/north-carolina-police-shooting/ind...

On a local level, let us hope that training and standards and accountability for Richmond County deputies will increase. There is no room for any more George Harvey-type deaths or officers assaulting citizens like the teen who was hospitalized a few weeks ago.

It is a huge task - to generate trust between police and citizens; but it is a task that must be accomplished, as innocent lives are hanging in the balance.

Darby
25496
Points
Darby 09/16/13 - 12:14 pm
2
0
“(Deaths) are very rare,” Chew said.

“Usually it’s attributed to some other factors. Sometimes they’ll have a medical condition or they’ll be on drugs. They happen, but it’s very rare.”

.
Oh! Well, it you only kill someone on rare occasions, then I guess it's not really a problem.

Never mind.

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