Metropolitan News-Enterprise
March 29, 2010

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The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday ruled that the Seattle Police Department’s use of a Taser on a pregnant woman, three times, to effect her arrest after she was stopped for a traffic violation, was not unconstitutionally excessive force.

A divided panel of the Court of Appeals concluded that Sergeant Steven L. Daman and officers Donald M. Jones and Juan M. Ornelas were entitled to qualified immunity from Malaika Brooks’ claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

In November 2004, Brooks said, she was seven months pregnant when Ornelas stopped her for speeding as she was driving her son to school. The ticket states that she was traveling at 32 miles per hour in a 20 mile per hour school zone.

According to Brooks’ version of events, Ornelas and Jones both asked her to sign a Notice of Infraction, but she refused, insisting that she had not been speeding.

Ornelas then called Daman. When he arrived, he asked Brooks to sign the notice and then instructed the officers to “[b]ook her,” when she again refused.

At this point, Brooks was in her car with the ignition running and her door shut and refused to exit her vehicle. Jones then showed Brooks his Taser, explaining that it would hurt “extremely bad” if applied and demonstrated it for her.

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