US appeals court restricts police use of stun guns

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A federal appeals court says police should not use stun guns on people who are trying to evade custody but pose no safety risk to the officers or others.

The Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals established that guideline this week in a case involving a North Carolina man’s death. Pinehurst police shot Ronald H. Armstrong five times with a Taser as the mentally ill man held tightly to a sign post to avoid being taken to a hospital in April 2011.

The appeals court said police used excessive force because while Armstrong was refusing to obey police orders, he was no danger to others.

However, the court said Armstrong’s estate could not collect damages because the officers at the time lacked clear legal guidance on stun gun use.

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