Baltimore County Police have released details of an unarmed robbery in Pikesville, MD on October 6 when an Electronic Control Device (ECD), more commonly known as a Taser, was used on an alleged assailant. (A Taser is an electroshock weapon that uses electrical current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles. Someone struck by a Taser experiences stimulation of his or her sensory nerves and motor nerves, resulting in strong involuntary muscle contractions.)
Background: On October 6 at about 5:20 pm, Officers from the Baltimore County Police Department (BCPD) responded to the 1700 block of Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, MD, for an unarmed robbery. A woman told police she was walking along Reisterstown Road when the suspect, a 43-year-old black male, grabbed her arm, called her an obscenity, and accused her of holding him hostage.
The woman broke away from him and ran toward a nearby Sunoco gas station. The woman told officers that the suspect stopped following her once he realized witnesses in the immediate vicinity were watching. Ultimately, when she left the gas station and tried to walk across Reisterstown Road, the suspect turned around and continued to follow her across the street.
The woman then saw three people leaving the Olive Branch restaurant. She told them she was being followed by the suspect and asked for help. The suspect then walked over to a different woman in the Olive Branch parking lot, grabbed her from behind and took her purse from her hands.
The suspect ran towards the BP gas station with the second woman’s handbag. The victim yelled for him to give back the purse; he threw it on the ground and kept running southbound on Reisterstown Road.
Resisting Arrest and Combative:
At that point, the suspect encountered Baltimore County police officers. He tried to flee by running through traffic, from one side of Reisterstown Road to other. Officers reached him and attempted to place him under arrest.
The individual resisted arrest, and began kicking one of the officers.
It was at that point that police used a Taser on the suspect; and officers report that the Taser had no effect on the individual. Officers then used pepper spray to try to subdue the suspect. An off-duty Baltimore City officer who happened to be on the scene rushed to help. Even after being pepper sprayed, the suspect continued to resist arrest.
After a struggle, officers handcuffed the suspect and placed him on the ground in a sitting position. The officer called for an ambulance to medically evaluate the suspect. Departmental procedures require that a medic unit be dispatched whenever an ECD is used. Medical crews placed him on a stretcher and moved him into a medic unit.
Once inside the medic unit, the suspect went into cardiac arrest and was transported to Northwest Hospital.
An administrative review is under way to ensure that police followed proper procedures. The suspect has not yet been charged.
Tasers and Medical Considerations:
Tasers represent a safer and less lethal alternative to handgun usage in law enforcement situations and are generally considered a less lethal form of weapon than the standard issue police sidearm. Critics argue that Tasers can cause cardiac arrhythmia in susceptible subjects though, leading to heart attacks, which can lead to cardiac arrest and sometimes death.
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