Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two part blog post examining police use of force. Part one examines the deferential legal standards applied to police use of force. Part two will be published next week and will examine the relationship between officer training and police use of force.
In December 2009, Albuquerque police responded to a domestic violence call where they discovered a man had doused himself in gasoline. Several police officers managed to place the man in handcuffs and removed him from the apartment. The man resisted the officers by banging his head against the wall. In response, several officers used their Tasers in drive-stun mode, setting the man on fire. This account is one of many examples listed in the 2014 Department of Justice’s civil investigation into the practices by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). The findings concluded the department engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force--in many cases deadly force--violating the Fourth Amendment’s right to be free from unreasonable seizures.