Violations of Police Restraint Guidelines in Numerous Fatal Encounters

Atlanta, Georgia – An investigation conducted by The Associated Press has revealed troubling findings regarding the use of force by police officers in the United States. The investigation discovered that in numerous fatal encounters where officers were attempting to restrain individuals without the use of guns, well-known guidelines for safe restraint were consistently violated.

It was found that many of these violations involved officers pinning individuals facedown in ways that could compromise their ability to breathe, or repeatedly using Tasers in a manner that exceeded recommended safety measures. In some cases, officers deviated from best practices due to challenging circumstances where a life needed to be saved or an individual needed protection. However, in many instances, the violations were more difficult to justify, with officers resorting to unnecessary force even after individuals were handcuffed and subdued.

The investigation meticulously cataloged 1,036 deaths over a decade that resulted from encounters where force was used by officers without firearms. Shockingly, in approximately 45% of these cases, officers breached guidelines in three or more ways, indicating a systemic issue with regards to restraint practices. It was also noted that individuals who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or had underlying medical conditions, were especially vulnerable to the misapplication of force by law enforcement, as cautioned by best practices.

Despite the existence of safety guidelines recommended by government agencies, law enforcement groups, and training experts, the investigation revealed a concerning lack of adherence to these protocols. The absence of national rules for the application of force in policing underscores the need for consistent standards at a federal level to ensure the safety and protection of all individuals involved in police encounters.

Experts in criminology have emphasized the necessity of clear directives from the federal government to establish uniform standards for the use of force by officers. Without comprehensive guidelines and regulations, there is a risk of continued violations of best practices and a failure to prioritize the well-being of individuals in police encounters.

The investigation further highlighted specific instances where officers used Tasers in ways that exceeded recommended limits, resulting in unnecessary harm to individuals. Recommendations from both Axon Enterprise Inc., the maker of Tasers, and law enforcement policy groups caution against multiple uses of Tasers and emphasize the importance of evaluating the situation before delivering subsequent shocks.

It is evident from the findings that there is a critical need for enhanced training, oversight, and accountability within law enforcement agencies to ensure that the use of force is always justified, proportionate, and in line with established best practices. By addressing these issues, law enforcement can work towards rebuilding trust with the communities they serve and ensuring the safety and well-being of all individuals in their care.