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Man to keep fighting to change Durham police force policy

Posted December 17, 2014

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— Despite losing again in court this week, a man  plans to continue his legal battle to get the Durham Police Department to change its use-of-force policy.

Bryan DeBaun, who was injured when a police officer used a stun gun on him in July 2009, contends the department’s policy is unconstitutional and dangerous.

DeBaun sued the department for damages, saying surgery to repair broken facial bones and treatment for broken teeth – he fell face first on a sidewalk after he was stunned – exceeded $30,000. The case was thrown out in District Court, and the state Court of Appeals ruled the officer correctly followed Durham's use-of-force policy.

After the state Supreme Court asked the Court of Appeals to take another look at the case, the court came to the same conclusion on Tuesday.

Attorney Alex Charns said Wednesday that the case would be appealed to the Supreme Court again.

"What we are going to ask the Supreme Court of North Carolina to do is take the constitution of North Carolina and give it meaning again. Blow it up to real life. Make it that great tapestry it was before this Court of Appeals decision," Charns said.

One of the problems with the force policy, he said, is that it places use of a stun gun above closed-hand contact in the list of allowable responses by officers in dealing with people resisting them.

Police department officials declined to comment, referring questions to Durham's city attorney, who couldn't be reached for comment.

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  • TransplantedToNC Dec 18, 2014

    So let me see if I understand his argument correctly, the Durham Officer didn't further risk his own safety and go hand-to-hand with him, but instead used a taser because Mr. DeBaun was non-compliant and fighting with the officer. Mr. DeBaun and his attorney believe it makes MORE sense for the officer to have engaged in a physical fight with Mr. DeBaun thus bringing the officers firearm within his reach? So in essence Mr. DeBaun would have rather been physically beaten into submission and given a chance to injure or kill the officer instead of complying with lawful orders. Hope the US Supreme Court doesn't even consider taking this ludicrous suit up.

  • Gary Hutson Dec 18, 2014
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    The police are going to be criticized no matter what method they use. the amount and type of force is determined by the person who is being arrested. It is not supposed to be a contest to see who the better fighter is, because there are plenty of people who are bigger, stronger and are better fighters than the average officer. That's why police are given tools that are designed to give the officer an advantage. Police officers are not martial arts experts, most only have 16 hrs. of hand to hand in rookie school and that's it. Anything else they learn is on their own time and expense or on the job from other officers.

  • PC is for Losers Dec 17, 2014

    Gotta be kidding. Resist arrest = stun gun. You can't expect the police to duke it out when you resist. That's your choice as a law breaker.