Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Frechette and McMahon Meet to Discuss Taser Incident

At a press conference in Police Headquarters this afternoon, Lieutenant Heather Desmond addressed concerns that have been raised over the use of a Taser by a police officer at Middletown High last Friday.

School Resource Officers are regular, on-duty police officers stationed for the school year at Keigwin, Woodrow Wilson, and Middletown High Schools. An SRO at Middletown High used the taser on a student, according to Desmond, "in response to the student becoming physically combative with the School Resource Officer. ... In no way was the use of the Taser deployed in response to the alleged theft of food."

Desmond said that Acting Chief Patrick McMahon and Superintendent of Schools Michael Frechette had met this morning to discuss the incident and the School Resource Officer program, and would continue to meet in the weeks ahead. She said both men want the SRO program to continue in all three schools, "The purpose of the SRO is to make the kids feel safer."

The legal guidelines for determining whether a police officer has used excessive force were most recently established in The Supreme Court's 1989 ruling in the case of Graham vs. Connor. Desmond said:
A review of the incident is on going, and Acting Chief McMahon would like to reiterate that to this point, the use of the Taser was appropriate under the Graham VS. Connor standard as well as the department's policies and procedures.
The police department has no policies regarding the use of a Taser on minors or in schools. She said that their use was determined by the circumstances, "Each officer evaluates the situation [and decides whether or not to use the Taser]."

In response to a question, Desmond said that the school's videotape of the incident was not currently part of the Police Department's review, she was unsure if McMahon had reviewed the tape.


Anonymous said...

The tape should be not only part of the review but also released to the public. Confidentiality is sometimes important and necessary but this case deserves unequivocal transparency. It's also ludicrous that the acting chief may not have even seen the tape.

Anonymous said...

Stop. Did anyone actually think it was because it was over the theft?? I really hope people realize the cops only use force when force is used on them!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"Desmond said that the school's videotape of the incident was not currently part of the Police Department's review, she was unsure if McMahon had reviewed the tape." You have a tape and it's not part of the review? The Chief may not have seen the tape? How can you have an honest investigation without those investigating seeing the tape or the chief seeing it? Blur the kids faces, release the tape and let the public see it. We own it. Sure it may have been the kid was violent and needed restraint but firing a taser not only put that kid at risk (what if his heart had stopped, we'd be having a different discussion) but other students are at risk. Let's see what happened.

Elizabeth Bobrick said...

For those who want to follow this event, the Courant has been doing a good job. I encourage everyone to read their articles; they are on line. In an article yesterday, the reporter wrote that Bob Fontaine, principal of the high school, said that he had seen nothing in the video that made him think tasering was warranted.

Mr. Fontaine is far from new to the system. He knows the students and the staff. In my dealings with him as a parent of two MHS students, and as a former BOE member, I can tell you that he does not tolerate anything that, in his view, will disrupt order at the school.

Finally: In reply to the "Anonymous" author who wrote that "Did anyone actually think it was over the theft??!": the student is being charged with larceny, a serious charge, over the theft of the sandwich.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Is this last post about Dr. Frechette's action at WWMS acurate? If so I am apalled! Did anyone witness this or is this heresay? This is a pretty serious claim if it is true.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone actually witness what the last blogger stated about Dr. Frechette at WWMS??? I am very interested to know if this is true. If so that is appalling and I am shocked at the unprofessionalism exhibited by our Superintendent. I am hoping this was just an exaggeration. I have a child that witnessed the event at MHS and by the sound of it the situation could have turned into an all out riot if not handled swiftly. Was tasering necessary? I don't know but I would have hated to have a much wider spread problem in a lunch room full of students. It is always easier to Monday Morning Quarterback.

Anonymous said...

My son witnessed the event in the cafe at MHS. He said that the student was subdued by high school staff and then jumped back up again and grabbed at the officer. It was well after the food was taken. The student is a large near adult lunging and grabbing a MPD officer. Do I know if the tasering was justified? No. But the situation was a lot more complex than just snitching some food.