A month after two Harris County Precinct Six Deputy Constables were recorded deploying Tasers against a drug suspect in Houston’s East End neighborhood, their boss says he’s in the process of reviewing his department’s use-of-force policy. As Houston Public Radio’s Jack Williams reports, Constable Victor Trevino still won’t blame his deputies and says it’s more of an issue of Taser rules that are too vague.
“Hey, move back, I’ll Tase him. Get him. Don’t move.”
When Trevino first heard this audio recorded by KUHF at the scene of the February 23rd arrest, he questioned whether his deputies had deployed their Tasers too quickly, without enough efforts to subdue the suspect by hand first. Now he says there were a number of factors that led to the use of Tasers.
“When you hear on the radio a distress call, or send me backup right away, you don’t go there to assess the situation, you control the scene and make sure the suspect is in custody and then later on you assess the situation. So I think that was a factor.”
Initially Trevino thought his deputies had Tasered the suspect five times, but a subsequent analysis of their Taser cartridges revealed they’d only been used once each. He says after an internal investigation, he’s confident the deputies did not abuse their Tasers.
“The two deputies that were involved here have been with me for quite some time, I’ve looked at their past record and they really are good deputies. They’re good hard-working deputies. It just so-happened this individual was known to them and I think that was a factor that they weren’t going to put up with anything. They were going to make sure he complied and he wasn’t complying.”
Although he hasn’t finalized the changes yet, Trevino says he’s looking for ways to make his department’s Taser policy easier to understand.
“The policy is kind of vague. It says in there when you see that there is a threat and you don’t have to use deadly force, you can use your Taser. You don’t have to include, even though part of the guideline says verbal warnings should be used first, but that’s if you have the opportunity. So it’s kind of vague there.”
Since the Taser story first aired on Houston Public Radio, Precinct Six deputies have deployed Tasers twice more. Trevino says deputies can’t be hesitant to use them in situations where they would be useful in controlling unruly suspects.
“If we develop that kind of state of mind, then for that matter we might as well say lets not even carry a gun. For that matter, we can take it, I don’t know how far. We can become cynical with this. The Taser has a real good purpose.”
Trevino says he expects to revise his Taser policy after more review, but says Tasers are still reliable tools that when used properly, can prevent the use of deadly force and save the lives of both deputies and suspects.