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59 UCLA L. Rev. 1342 (2011-2012)
Shocking the Conscience: What Police Tasers and Weapon Technology Reveal about Excessive Force Law

handle is hein.journals/uclalr59 and id is 1356 raw text is: Shocking the Conscience: What Police                           m-   77iJ=K4
Tasers and Weapon Technology Reveal
About Excessive Force Law
Aaron Sussman
Since Graham v. Connor, the U.S. Supreme Court's 1989 opinion establishing the
Fourth Amendment standard for assessing wx hether a police officer's use of force was
unconstitutionally excessive, the law has slowly developed through a body of narrow
and fact-specific precedents that guide judges' excessive force and qualified immunity
analyses. Recently, the Ninth Circuit-the source of many of the most influential
excessive force opinions-decided three contentious cases regarding when an officer's use of
a taser is unconstitutional. On one view, these cases raise novel questions about how to
apply the Fourth Amendment standard for nontraditional and technologically advanced
uses of force. In this Comment, however, I argue that these cases predominantly present
issues that pervade all excessive force jurisprudence and illuminate judicial trends and
tendencies disadvantaging plaintiffs while advantaging defendant officers. In light
of this understanding, my proposal is not for new rules or standards in taser cases.
Rather, I suggest that courts, first, faithfully apply Graham's standard of balancing
the nature and quality of the Fourth Amendment intrusion against the government's
interest in the officer's use of force and, second, employ a reality-based approach in
deciding whether the officer is entitled to qualified immunity. For courts to do this,
excessive force jurisprudence must evolve to match the development of police weapons
technology That evolution includes fully understanding and considering the distinctive
effects and risks posed by tasers and presuming that a reasonable police officer would
have done the same.
Aaron Sussman, J.D., UCLA School of Law, 2012, is Chief Executive Editor of UCLA
Law Review, volume 59.
For their various contributions and their consistent support, I would like to thankJoanna
Schwartz, Anva Goldstein, Kristen Johnson, C. Hunter Haves, Stan Molever, Ann
Roller, Lindsay Harris, Nicole Ochi, Cathy Mayorkas, and the board and staff of UCLA
Law Review volumes 59 and 60.

59 UCLA L. REV. 1342 (2012)

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