Jails are dangerous places for inmates and officers alike. Jail officials exercise substantial deferential discretion to manage security risks. The use of a Taser on an uncooperative, combative inmate is one reasonable option. In Hayden v. Stevenson, an unrestrained inmate at the DeKalb County Jail refused to enter a cellblock because he believed there were fellow inmates present who were going to beat him up. He ignored officer orders, took a defiant stance, and pulled away from officers’ attempts to escort him. An officer took him down with a leg sweep. Once on the ground he struggled with the officer, was able to stand up, laughed at them, and attempted to flee toward an open door. One officer attempted to deploy her Taser but apparently missed. A second officer deployed his Taser this time successfully. The inmate went to the ground where he was eventually restrained. The entire incident was caught on the jail’s video surveillance system. The inmate filed suit for excessive use of force and U.S. District Court Judge Phillip Reinhard granted the officer’s motion for summary judgment. Judge Reinhard reviewed the video and applicable case law and concluded that the force used was reasonable.
The County defendants were represented by Mike Bersani and Jason Rose of Hervas, Condon & Bersani, P.C.