The Use Of Unreasonable Force And The Fourth Amendment

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The use of unreasonable force is constitutionally excessive and violates the Fourth Amendment. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394-96 (1989). There is no per se rule in determining whether an officer’s actions are reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Scott, 550 U.S. at 383. The courts typically balance “the nature and quality of the intrusion on the individual’s Fourth Amendment interests against countervailing governmental interests at stake.” Bryan v. MacPherson, 630 F.3d 805, 823 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 8 (1985)). However, courts, considering the totality of circumstances, balance the following factors to determine if an officer used force is unreasonable: (1) the severity of the crime at issue, (2) whether the suspect posed an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and (3) whether the suspect was actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight. Graham, 490 U.S. at 396. Because force can be unreasonable even without physical blows or injuries, the analysis under Graham allows the court to determine objectively the amount of force necessary in a particular situation. MacPherson, 630 F.3d at 826.

A. Officer Woodward use of Taser in Probe Mode
The Court in Bryan v. MacPherson stated that when the officer used the Taser with the probes, aluminum darts tipped with stainless tell barbs connected to the Taser insulated wires, toward the target at a rate of over 160 feet per second. MacPherson, 630 F.3d at 824. The Court noted that once a person is struck, the Taser delivers a 1200-volt into the individual’s muscles, making the impact powerful. Id. at 824. The electrical impulse instantly overrides the victim’s central nervous system paralyzing the muscles throughout the body, rendering the target limp and helpless making the person experience excruciating pain that radiates throughout the body. Id.; see Draper v. Reynolds, 369 F.3d 1270, 1273 (11th Cir. 2004); see also Lewis v. Downey, 581 F.3d 467, 475 (7th Cir. 2009). Although the uses of Tasers by law enforcement can help defuse a dangerous situation, the force must be justified by the governmental interest

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