Policies under microscope after police tase pregnant woman

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by Lauren Trager

KMOV

Posted on April 4, 2013 at 4:30 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Taser policies are under the microscope after a video posted to YouTube shows a police officer using a stun gun on a woman who’s eight months pregnant.

The woman screamed at officers that she’s pregnant, but they delivered a shock of 50,000 volts to her leg in a parking lot in Springfield, Illinois.

That police department is defending the officer’s actions. KVUE's sister station KMOV spoke with St. Louis County Police, who say they don’t have an expressed policy against using a Taser on a pregnant woman. It’s not even a last resort option. They said it all depends on the circumstances, which is a heavy decision for an officer.

On-lookers were clearly shocked as they watched as a Springfield police officer struggled with Lucinda White, then tase her in the thigh.

“I’m pulling on my daughter’s father. I did not touch a police officer. I know not to touch a police officer,” White said.

But officers say, what should have been a simple car accident call, quickly turned. They say White and her boyfriend had verbally and physically resisted arrest and both had to be subdued.

“Almost all the literature out there shows there’s no long term effect to being tased,” said Dr. Mark Levine with Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Levine said a shock from a Taser likely would not hurt an unborn baby, depending on exactly where on the body the mother was given the shock.

“The most important thing is where the electricity passed through the body and if it didn’t go through the abdomen, it likely will not affect the fetus,” Levine said.

The incident is still under investigation, but a Springfield police department spokesperson told KMOV what they’ve seen so far has been within their policies.

They like other departments we talked to, say they try to avoid tasing a pregnant woman-not so much because of the jolt itself, but because falling to the ground could harm the baby.

White says she went to the doctor and it appeared her baby would be okay.

Click here to see the full You-Tube clip of this incident. (Warning: The clip contains inappropriate language.)

 

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