Federal Judge OKs Navy Blasting Recruits in the Eyes With Pepper Spray During Training

A federal judge reportedly has given the Navy the green light to blast recruits in the eyes with pepper spray during training even though the practice is banned during warfare by international law.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon dismissed a lawsuit brought by Naval police officers trying to stop the direct use of the spray on trainees, according to the Legal Times and other reports.

The officers argued that spraying pepper directly on the eyes is dangerous and violated recruits’ constitutional rights, the Times reported.

They proposed the Navy use safer methods in training, such as smearing a small amount of spray below the eyes or having recruits walk through a room that had been sprayed.

Pepper spray can cause problems ranging from swelling and blisters to respiratory problems and, in rare occasions, death.

But though the direct use of pepper spray "indisputably risks injury," Leon wrote in his Friday decision, "the agency decided that this risk was offset by the benefits of training."

He added that the officers' constitutional arguments could not stand, as trainees were being treated equally and the practices did not "shock the conscience," as is standard for a substantive due process claim, according to the Times.

Pepper spray is also commonly used in police training.

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