Part VIII: Myths vs. Reality
- Myth. ECDs have been credited with reducing injuries to suspects and officers alike; therefore, they can used anytime the suspect disobeys the officers’ orders.
Part of that statement is true; specifically, ECDs have been credited with reducing injuries. But ECDs also hurt, a lot. They cannot be used anytime the suspect refuses to obey arrest commands.
- Myth. The law does not require an officer to re-assess a suspect’s resistance after using an ECD because the pain is only temporary.
Each use of an ECD (or any intermediate weapon) must be objectively reasonable. Objective reasonableness always requires an application of the facts to the Graham and other factors.
- Myth. An officer does not have a duty to de-contaminate a suspect after using OC spray so long as the initial use was reasonable.
A Fourth Amendment seizure triggers a duty to render aid to the suspect when it’s reasonable to do so. Once the suspect is under control, the officer should decontaminate a suspect.
- Myth. Agency policy is the law.
Agency policy is not the law. The Supreme Court established the law in Graham v. Connor. Agency policies may establish restrictions on using force that are more restrictive that what the law requires. Officers may be fired or suffer administrative sanctions for violating policy. If sued, however, the court will apply the objective reasonableness standard.