CA11: Tasering elderly man suffering a severe hypoglycemic episode five times and while trying to comply was excessive

“Mr. Glasscox, [an apparently elderly man] who lives with Type 1 diabetes, suffered a severe hypoglycemic episode while driving his pickup truck on Interstate 59 South near the City of Argo, Alabama. His condition caused him to begin driving erratically. After other drivers on the interstate reported his erratic driving, the Argo City Police dispatched Officer Moses to the scene. What followed was captured on Officer Moses’s body camera.” When plaintiff stopped, the officer tased him five times in quick succession, not even giving him time to respond or get out of the truck. Even assuming the first two may have been justified, the other three were not because he was clearly unarmed and trying to comply. Qualified immunity is denied. Glasscox v. City of Argo, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 25839 (11th Cir. Sep. 12, 2018):

On appeal, Officer Moses argues that his repeated use of the taser on Mr. Glasscox was a reasonable display of force in light of the dangerous circumstances he encountered and Mr. Glasscox’s resistance to arrest. We disagree. Even assuming that Officer Moses reasonably deployed his taser twice, a reasonable jury could find that the continued tasing—when the video recording conclusively shows that Mr. Glasscox was not resisting but instead voicing his desire to comply with the officer’s commands, provided he was given a chance to do so—violated Mr. Glasscox’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from the excessive use of force.

. . .

Under the summary judgment standard, Mr. Glasscox has made a sufficient showing that the force Officer Moses applied in repeatedly tasing him was excessive under the circumstances. We consider the Graham factors out of turn, addressing first the most important factor in determining whether the force used was justified; that is, whether Mr. Glasscox was actively resisting or attempting to evade arrest. The evidence, taken in the light most favorable to Mr. Glasscox, shows that he offered no resistance after the second use of the taser. We then examine the remaining factors—the severity of the crime at issue, whether Mr. Glasscox posed an immediate safety threat, and the nature and extent of Mr. Glasscox’s injuries—and explain why we balance the factors in Mr. Glasscox’s favor. When we apply the Graham test to the facts and circumstances here, we conclude a jury could find that the force Officer Moses used in repeatedly tasing Mr. Glasscox was not reasonably proportionate to the need for that force; thus, it was excessive.

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