Man sues Marin sheriff after being Tased at home

From ABCLocal:

MARIN COUNTY, CA (KGO) — A Marin County man has filed suit against the Marin County Sheriff’s Department for an incident in which he says law enforcement officers went too far. Peter McFarland was Tased inside his own home as his wife watched, begging officers to stop.

On June 29, 2009 McFarland and his wife Pearl were returning home from a charity fundraiser just before midnight. McFarland injured himself as he stumbled and fell down the long steps to his front door.

“Mainly it was to my knee and the front of my leg, my shin,” McFarland said.

His wife called paramedics, who helped him into the house and treated him. As the paramedics were leaving, two sheriff’s deputies arrived.

“All of a sudden, they just showed up, they came in here like there was a fire going on, like a gunfight was going on,” McFarland said.

What happened in the following minutes was captured on a camera mounted on the deputy’s Taser.

The deputy tells McFarland he is going to take him to the hospital because he may be suicidal.

“We want to take you to the hospital for an evaluation, you said if you had a gun, you’d shoot yourself in the head,” the deputy can be heard saying.

McFarland says it was just hyperbole. He was tired and in pain.

The deputy orders him numerous times to get up or else.

“Stand up, put your hands behind your back or you’re going to be Tased,” the deputy says.

McFarland keeps refusing.

The exchange goes on for about five minutes; his wife keeps pleading with the deputies not to Tase him, saying he has a heart condition.

Then, McFarland tells the deputies in no uncertain terms to leave.

As he gets up to go to bed, McFarland is Tased. Not once, but three times


  1. I always hear that it’s just a few “bad apple” cops doing stuff like this. I don’t believe it; give one of these guys a Taser and they will abuse it.

  2. Unfortunately “Do ____ or you’re going to get tased” seems to have become the default threat for cops. Of course, they feel the need to follow through with this threat when there’s any resistance.

    In my opinion, this threat should only be used in situations where cops used to say “Do ____ or you’re going to get shot”. Imagine how ridiculous that would be in this situation.

  3. I’m not a cop so maybe someone with more experience can clarify this, but from what I understand, when a cop fires his/her gun there is one or more interviews with the department’s psychologist/counselor to determine the cop’s state of mind, temporary assignment away from the public (i.e. “desk duty”), and tons of paperwork. If tasing had the same follow-up for the cop that firing a gun does, things would be different.

  4. I dunno how it is the States (no tasers in the uk afaik), but my brother in law is a cop and because of a combination of things like underfunding (or rather, misamanagement of funds) and the fact that he (unlike some of his squad) has no kids, he gets to work insane hours over very protracted periods. I’ve seen how his judgement degrades with exhaustion, too – and it’s got him in trouble a couple of times. Just saying that under the right conditions you don’t have to be a bad apple to rot things up pretty badly… Not that I’m saying that’s the case here, just a limited response to some of the comments above.

  5. The problem isn’t the tasers and it isn’t the individual police officers (sure there a few bad apples), it’s the mindset in general. The training, equipment, vehicles and the weapons. We have, in essence, allowed our Police Departments to think and act like they are a branch of the armed forces.
    When you militarize the Police, they start acting like they are the military. The Military must have an enemy or it won’t exist. They only available enemy to the Police is the general public….

  6. I saw a policeman on one of those morning shows defending the taser by saying something along the lines of “Well this is good because in the old days it would have been a baton.” Great…

  7. In America do policemen have to be tased whenever they sign up to the job so they know what it feels like before they administer it on someone else or mis-use it? I’m form the UK and my friend training to be a police officer has to swab her eye with pepper spray during training.

  8. The police have become unnecessarily aggressive. There is nothing in this situation that warranted such use of force. I know that whenever I see the police and say hi there is no response. It seems like there is this whole us versus them psychology that they buy into. I no longer feel protected by them. It feels more like a police state with them using power as they see fit.

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