Law Enforcement Reassessing Risk for Taser “Less-Lethal” Weapon Systems

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August 28, 2017 | Originally published by Date Line: August 28 on

Officer Richard Haas says he never meant for Everette Howard to die. He just wanted to stop him.

A top high-school grad staying on the University of Cincinnati campus for a college prep program, Howard, 18, had broken no laws that hot August night in 2011. It was about 3 a.m., and he was agitated after a run-in with neighborhood kids who’d tried to rob his friends.

Blocks away, university police officer Haas’s radio crackled with reports of an assault. Nearing the scene, he intercepted several people running away and ordered them to the ground. He unholstered his Taser and panned its red sighting beam over them “to get their attention.”

Howard, shirtless, approached from behind with his dorm adviser, Ricky Pleasant, who’d placed the 911 call. Get down, Haas said. “We’re not the ones you’re looking for,” Pleasant replied.

Howard stepped forward. Pleasant thought the teen intended to kneel; Haas thought he intended to fight.

Haas fired his stun gun. One electrified dart hit below Howard’s lower left chest, the other near his waist. The 18-year-old collapsed, unconscious, and was pronounced dead at the hospital; the coroner ruled the cause “unknown.”