In 2004, Malaika Brooks was Tasered during a routine traffic stop. She was seven months pregnant at the time and suffered intense pain and permanent scars from the incident. A subsequent lawsuit was decided in the officers’ favor, and now the Supreme Court is considering hearing the case from the Seattle police officers on whether a stun gun can be used as a “useful pain technique.”
Malaika was pulled over for speeding while driving her son to school. The officers gave her a ticket, which she accepted, but she didn’t want to sign it as she was mistakenly afraid it would be an admission of guilt. She was placed under arrest for her refusal, but told officers she didn’t want to get out of the car as she was pregnant and had to use the restroom.
After a discussion, the officers decided to use a stun gun on the pregnant woman. They applied it to her leg, arm and neck, after which she collapsed. She was convicted for not signing the ticket but the lawsuit against the officers was decided in their favor, as the law about using excessive force was unclear when the incident took place.
Many we spoke with felt that Tasering a pregnant woman should never be considered. David from California stated simply, “Never.” A commenter on Above the Law said, “We ask our law enforcement officers to use personal discretion when making decisions. To think this traffic violation escalated to the point that a pregnant woman was Tased three times is ridiculous and does not show the police used good judgment. Police need to have training on negotiations and escalation.”
Some moms we talked to felt that it was an option, but should be the very last one considered. “In this situation, there is just no excuse at all,” shared Brittney, mother of one. “If she was putting someone else’s life in danger, I could understand, though I think it should be used as an absolute last resort. The officers need to take into consideration that they are not just using a Taser on the female, but also the unborn child she is carrying.”
Ashley from Wisconsin agreed. “It really depends on the situation — if she is a threat to others or herself, then yeah they have to,” she told us.
And a few hardy souls felt that women use pregnancy as an excuse to get around rules and laws. Another commenter on The Root’s article said, “Soon women, under the guise of protecting their already-born or unborn children will be able to bypass any and all rules we have. I see them getting away with more and more every day.”
Yet another commenter felt the same way. “Yes it’s OK given the circumstances,” explained a user with the screen name QuietThoughts. “Being pregnant does not mean a free pass on responsibility and consequences.”
No matter how you feel about this individual case, it will be interesting to see if the Supreme Court takes it on and if so, what they decide.
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