Listening to the audio recordings of police communications during the June 9 incident in which Brian Cardall died after being Tasered twice by police can be a heart-wrenching experience.
Cardall’s wife called 911 seeking help because her husband was suffering from a "serious psychosis" along the side of the highway outside Hurricane. When police arrived, they found Cardall naked and conducting himself in an irrational manner. During the 12-minute call, Anna Cardall can be heard telling the dispatcher her husband was running in and out of traffic.
"I’m really scared he’s going to jump in front of a moving car," she is heard saying.
The recording, along with communications from officers at the scene, are available on our Web site at www.standard.net. The recordings were released by the Cardall family last week.
Officers ordered Cardall to get down on the ground before a clear pop is heard from the first Taser shot and then the second.
Officers then tell Cardall’s wife to get back in the car and take care of her baby. Ironically, she is heard thanking the officers.
Anna Cardall’s plea for help ended in the death of her husband. There is no indication that Anna and her 2-year-old daughter were in danger, or that Cardall was a threat to anyone but himself.
It’s not clear why officers felt they had to give Cardall a second Taser blast.
The incident brings to light just how inconsistent Taser use and training is for law enforcement.
In Utah, there is no uniform policy on Taser deployment. Each department sets its own policy and provides training, which can lead to a wide range of discretionary options for police.
There needs to be one policy for all law enforcement in the state. A good institution to spearhead this effort is the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training. POST set up a uniformed policy on vehicle pursuit that many agencies follow.
All it would take is for a group of police chiefs and sheriffs to request POST set up a similar policy for Taser deployment.
One area we think should be looked at is a limit to how many times a Taser can be used on an individual depending on the circumstances. If officers do not fear for their own safety, then we don’t think a Taser should ever be deployed more than once if it is simply to control a situation, as was the case with Cardall.
Tasers are not cattle prods. And people are not livestock.