Education

Durham deputy's use of stun gun on Northern High student questioned

Posted October 21, 2015

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— The Durham County Sheriff's Office is reviewing an incident Monday in which a school resource officer used a stun gun on a student at Northern High School.

A cellphone video of the incident shows a student throwing two punches at two resource officers in the school cafeteria, and they wrestled him to the ground before one fired his stun gun. The video then shows the student went limp on his left side when he was hit by the device.

"He just started swinging on the cops," Northern High senior James Webb said. "They were just really surprised."

"I feel that the police took the right measures to handle the situation," senior Rhianna Council said, adding that she thought the student was out of control. "He was fighting back, and the police tried to stop him, and he didn’t."

The sheriff's office declined to comment on the incident, other than to say officials review every use-of-force case.

Some people are questioning whether any force was needed, however.

"Was there another way to have handled it other than him being tased in front of the other children?" said Yolanda Williams, the mother of a Northern High student. "Could they have not at least two or three handled it together? I’m not sure."

"They could have restrained him with something like handcuffs. They didn’t have to resort to tasing him like that," Webb said.

The use-of-force policy in the Durham County Sheriff's Office, which applies to school resource officers, considers stun guns as a low-level use of force, on par with pepper spray. It is designed to “neutralize a significant, immediate threat, which may otherwise justify the use of deadly force.”

Lisa Pendergraph, the mother of a Northern High student, said that, after watching the cellphone video, she felt the stun gun was used appropriately.

"He had to get him under control. That’s the only way he could do it without actually physically confronting him to get him to calm down," Pendergraph said. "If my child started that kind of fight, if that’s what it took to get him under control, then that’s what it took."

21 Comments

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  • Norman Lewis Oct 22, 2015
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    I think the word "children" is used to evoke an emotional not a logical response. Some of these "children" are 6 ft, 200 lbs with an emotional maturity of a toddler. The officers I believe, used great restraint in calming the threat. I think an adult swinging on the officers might have been shot. It is easy to second guess decisions made on the spur of the moment. If my child had gone so wrong as to attack the police, I would be grateful for the use of a taser and not a gun.

  • Sonja Yagel Oct 22, 2015
    user avatar

    If this kid had been raised to respect others and the law he wouldn't have been in this situation to start with. His mother should know if you do not teach respect at home, the law will have to teach it to them. The deputies did what they had to do.

  • Sean Creasy Oct 22, 2015
    user avatar

    "Was there another way to have handled it other than him being tased in front of the other children?" said Yolanda Williams, the mother of a Northern High student. "Could they have not at least two or three handled it together? I’m not sure."
    Read more at http://www.wral.com/durham-deputy-s-use-of-stun-gun-on-northern-high-student-questioned/14995451/#ZWHwPxoCCvpacQjx.99... Yes there was. They should have stomped him into a greasy spot on the floor as an example to the on looking students of what happens when you start swinging on the police... With that said it seems like tasing wasn't so bad after all was it?

  • Tyrone Biggum Oct 22, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    Because that would mean we'd have to hold someone accountable for their inappropriate actions. We don't do that in this country anymore.

  • cdurham Oct 22, 2015

    The student could have been injured in a worse way if two or three people had to subdue him. The stun gun seems appropriate.

  • Jason Pierce Oct 22, 2015
    user avatar

    I got baited by the headline too. You got me. No story here. Move along.

  • Chris Richards Oct 22, 2015
    user avatar

    how about we focus on why the child thought it was Ok to swing on law enforcement ?

  • David Bunn Oct 22, 2015
    user avatar

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    Call it ignorance if you want, but if we start letting our law enforcement personnel use real force things like this will just fade away. Let loose the dogs, shoot a few, treat some to a billyclub fest, and the rest will get the message. Then the kids who are there to learn can do so in safety and peace.

  • David Bunn Oct 22, 2015
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    exactly!

  • isurfdewu1 Oct 22, 2015

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    So the baton is okay?

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