Connecticut Civil Rights Groups Demand More Transparency for Police Use of Tasers

Brandon Lane wonders if his father, 37-year-old Thomas Lane, would still be alive had a Connecticut State Trooper and West Haven Police Officer not deployed their Tasers while trying to rescue him from a car crash early Tuesday morning on I-95.

“The cops that were there to help him they actually ended up hurting him,” Lane said. “Maybe he would still be here recovering from his injuries, I’ll never know.”

The 20-year-old suffered a significant head injury from the crash, police said.

In the wake of Lane’s death, the Connecticut chapters of both the NAACP and ACLU are demanding more transparency and oversight for Taser use by police departments in the state.

“There’s no way in the world that an officer should be pulling out a Taser and shooting an individual they are supposed to be saving,” said NAACP of CT President Scot Esdaile at a press conference in New Haven Friday.

State Police are investigating the use of force by officers involved in Tuesday's incident. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has not yet released autopsy results and that could take several weeks.

The NAACP wants Taser use of force reports to be made public immediately when there is a fatality.

Since 2005, according to the NAACP, 12 of 18 fatalities in Connecticut from police use of Tasers were African American or Latino.

“Taser use has become the lazy man’s approach to controlling people,” said Darnell Crosland, an attorney representing the Lane family.

Troopers said after Lane injured a West Haven firefighter trying to free him from the wreckage, he “continued to be combative and attempted to cause further harm to himself and others.”

A State Police source said Lane was using pieces of glass to cut himself before police deployed Tasers on him.

“In this case the combativeness cannot in any way be misconstrued to be an attack on a police officer,” Crosland said.

Both the NAACP and ACLU of Connecticut are calling on Governor Malloy and state lawmakers to require that police Tasers be equipped with cameras.

“Unlike body cameras that need to be manually activated by the police officer, these automatically start recording in HD video and audio when the Taser is pulled from the holster,” said David McGuire, the legislative and policy director for the ACLU of Connecticut.

The Lane family is asking for donations to be mailed to Brandon Lane at 777 Summer Street, Suite 403, Stamford, CT 06901.

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