When Is a Police Officer Allowed to Use a Taser Gun?
In making an arrest, a police officer has the right to use some degree of physical coercion or threat. However, the Federal Constitution's Fourth Amendment protects individuals against the use of unreasonable or excessive force by an arresting officer. Thus, a police officer may not use force in excess of that which is reasonably necessary to make an arrest. The privilege to use force is not limited to that amount of force necessary to protect the officer, but extends to that amount reasonably necessary to enable the officer to perform his or her duty.
However, an officer cannot use violence when no resistance is offered, or use force or violence disproportionate to the extent of the resistance offered. The question of whether excessive force has been used in making an arrest is for the jury to determine, based on all the facts and circumstances involved.
A peace officer who exceeds his powers in making or attempting an arrest stands on the same footing as any other citizen and is liable for any injury caused thereby. Thus, a sheriff and his surety are liable for damages sustained by a person for an unlawful arrest not founded on probable cause and without a warrant where the arrest constituted an abuse of power. Misconduct subsequent to lawful arrest makes the officer liable only for such harm as is caused thereby. It does not make him or her liable for the arrest or for detention prior to the misconduct.