NYPD Eyes Stun Guns in Wake of Shul Stabbing

NEW YORK (AP) -

With widely watched amateur videos of police killings as a backdrop, New York City police are hoping to arm more officers with stun guns as an option for subduing emotionally disturbed people and other suspects who resist arrest.

Preliminary plans call for 450 additional officers to carry the electroshock weapons while on patrol, police officials said Wednesday. The department would first have to find funding and develop more precise guidelines on which circumstance are appropriate to use the devices.

“We are very interested in expanding them very significantly,” said Police Commissioner William Bratton.

The proposal is part of a broader review of use of force at the nation’s largest police department since the death of Eric Garner in July and the fatal shooting of Calvin Peters in the main Lubavitcher shul in Crown Heights on Tuesday. Both were caught on videotape.

Any push for more stun guns — now accessible to supervising patrol sergeants but used sparingly — would likely renew concerns about the difficulties of assessing when to shock suspects into submission and the weapon’s potential for fatal mishaps.

In 2008, a man on a ledge who was jabbing at police officers with a fluorescent light bulb plunged to his death after an NYPD officer shocked him with a stun gun. A lieutenant who was disciplined for his handling of the standoff later committed suicide.

In Peters’s case, officers with their guns drawn repeatedly ordered him to drop a knife and surrender. He momentarily set down the knife, but then picked it up and lunged at police, who killed him.

A stun gun wouldn’t have been an option in the Peters shooting because it unfolded too quickly, police said. Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio have said the shooting appeared justified.