Another person has been killed by a police officer using a Taser; this time it was a man from Utah. Brian Cardall, 32, died after he was tased by a Hurricane police officer on Tuesday. Brian was a husband, a father to one child and an expectant father of a second child. He and his family were returning from a wedding in Salt Lake City when the graduate student in molecular biology became confused; he had recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The Cardall vehicle stopped along State Road 59 near Hurricane so Brian could take medication. He remained confused as he got out of the car and his wife Anna was concerned for his safety so she called 911. The responding officer deployed a Taser on Brian but no one is yet offering an explanation as to why. The incident remains under investigation by the Washington County Critical Incident Task Force.
Brian was the son of Duane Cardall, the Editorial Director for Salt Lake City based television station and news outlet, KSL. The Cardall family is grieving their loss and asking questions. Others appear to be asking questions as well. KSL.com reported yesterday that authorities around the state are reviewing their Taser deployment policies in the aftermath of Cardall’s death. The questions cannot be pointed enough and the reviews cannot be thorough enough.
It appears that Taser deployment policies vary widely; from detailed policies on when, where and why to deploy, to none at all. Some don’t even keep records of when they are deployed! The Utah Department of Public Safety, aka the Utah Highway Patrol, has explicit deployment policies for this statewide agency, but there is no statewide policy that applies to the myriad other law enforcement agencies in the state. In fact, the Utah Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST), does not offer any Taser training; they simply leave Taser training to individual agencies. Incredible. The POST website tag line of "Training Utah’s Finest" seems a bit misleading.
For its part, the Taser manufacturer, Taser International, defends the use of its product claiming that no device is 100 percent safe but that Tasers are safer than other alternatives. In fact, on Tuesday the company went as far as issuing an official statement in response to Brian Cardall’s death. It would seem they protest too much.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.