Officer defends using Taser on woman

Associated Press / August 31, 2009

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A sheriff’s deputy said in an e-mail that he made the right decision when he zapped a woman with a stun gun during a traffic stop in a Syracuse suburb this year, a newspaper reported yesterday.

Sean Andrews, in a message obtained by the Post-Standard and published yesterday on its website, said the video taken from the dashboard of the Onondaga County officer’s car “alone does not look good to the public because the general public have difficulty putting themselves in a cop’s position.’’ But he says he was justified in using the stun gun on her.Andrews, 37, was suspended for 30 days after an administrative hearing Aug. 20 and could face further disciplinary actions over the Jan. 31 traffic stop in Salina.

The sheriff’s deputy used a Taser to subdue the woman, Audra Harmon, after pulling her minivan over. The 38-year-old mother was driving with two children in the car.

The video shows the officer stunning Harmon with two Taser shots. Harmon was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and driving 50 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone. The charges were dismissed, and Harmon sued the sheriff’s department in early August.

In his e-mail, Andrews writes that he stopped Harmon because it appeared that she was talking on her cellphone and appeared to be speeding. He said he decided to use the Taser based on his training because Harmon defied his orders and because he couldn’t see her hands at certain points during the stop.

He also wrote that he was concerned that she would drive off if he didn’t use the Taser on her, and that he would “have a vehicle pursuit with two kids in the car.’’