Officials Defend Using Taser on Autistic Teen

Sheriff's officials defended their use of a Taser stun gun to subdue an autistic teenager who left a social services center where he was being treated.

"It was necessary," sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said in defense of the use of a Taser stun gun to subdue 15-year-old Taylor Karras.

He said the teen was running in and out of traffic and is lucky to be alive.

"If that were your son, would you want him Tased or hit by a car?" Amormino asked.

The teenager bolted from a social services center in Westminster on Monday and had walked 15 miles when sheriff's deputies received a call of someone running in and out of traffic on busy Newport Avenue. Sheriff's Lt. Larry Jones said a deputy fired the Taser after a second car had to swerve.

The teen was home with his parents Tuesday, uninjured and no charges were filed. But his parents said they believed deputies overreacted.

"They should have been on alert that there was a missing autistic teenager in the area," William Karras said.

Taser use by police drew national attention this week after video surfaced on the Internet of police shocking a university student in Florida who persistently questioned Sen. John Kerry during a forum and refused to yield the microphone to others. The incident generated a fierce debate about free speech, use of force and the motives of the student, a known prankster.

University of Florida President Bernie Machen said the use of the Taser, with the student yelling, "Don't Tase me, bro!" was "regretful." He requested a state probe of campus police actions and placed two officers on leave.

In Ohio, another police officer was on administrative leave Thursday after video taken from his cruiser showed him jolting a woman with a Taser gun at least twice after she was handcuffed, police and city administrators said.

Patrolman Richard Kovach's report said the 38-year-old woman, who had been ordered out of a bar, kicked at a rear window and tried to climb into the front seat once she was inside the cruiser.

"I deployed a second Taser cartridge into her and the violent turbulent action stopped immediately," the report said. "I then requested a car with a cage for transport."

She was again Tasered during the transfer to the second car when she fell and was knocked unconscious by the impact; an ambulance took her to a hospital, the report on the Sept. 2 arrest said.

Simply because someone is hit with a Taser while handcuffed may not be against policy, said Warren Law Director Greg Hicks, citing the example of someone kicking out windows of a cruiser.

Taser stun guns fire electrically charged darts that carry 50,000 volts for several seconds, temporarily immobilizing their targets. According to Taser International Inc., about 11,000 U.S. law enforcement agencies use Taser technology.