Use of ‘Taser’ results in 10-day suspension for Denver police officer

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DENVER -- A Denver police officer is serving a 10-day suspension for tasering a suspect who refused to put his hands behind his back.  Corporal David Cowden began his suspension September 9th and will complete it September 18th.

His discipline follows an incident on March 13 when he was asked to assist RTD security officers in removing a man named Antoine Baker from a Light Rail train at the Alameda Station.

Officers say Baker was acting drunk and disruptive.  After a Denver Police officer placed Baker on the ground, they said he refused to put his hand behind his back.

Body cam footage obtained by the Problem Solvers shows Corporal David  Cowden telling Baker, "Put your hands ... You're going to get tased, you're going to get tased," and then Baker responds, "What did I do, what did I do?  Oh, you tasing me, Oh you tased me."

The disciplinary report for Cowden says Denver Police are trained in techniques to overcome resistance and suggests officers could have simply pulled the suspect's arms behind his back.

Denver's Use of Force policy says police can't taser someone unless their "Conduct rises at least to the level of active aggression" meaning the suspect is fighting back or about to.

Corporal Cowden told investigators he feared, "The suspect was reaching for a weapon" in his waistband, when he tasered Baker.  But after reviewing the body cam footage, Jess Vigil, the Deputy Director for the Department of Safety, found that was an unreasonable belief.

Baker was charged with Trespass and Interference.




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