Boyle officers feel the pain of new 50,000-volt stun guns

August 15, 2004|EMILY BURTON

The Frankenstein-ish scene was set, waiting only for someone to yell, "He's alive!"

But Boyle County Sheriff LeeRoy Hardin looked anything but ready to break free from the two metal probes clamped to his clothing. Two burly deputies held each of his arms, straining with clenched fists, as the department's newest weapon was turned to 'stun'. Hardin's face clenched in stomach-turning spasms as he fell to the floor.

"Oh. Ooooh," he repeated as he woozily climbed to his feet.

The department's new 50,000-volt Taser guns were demonstrated on deputies and boss alike Saturday during a four-hour training course. The department now has three of the pistol-shaped devices to use in controlling combative suspects.

The weapons, which cost $800 apiece, shoot two probes - tipped with small barbs to penetrate clothing and skin - into a suspect. A five-second shock then jolts the arrestee, locking their muscles for the duration so they may be apprehended without further use of force.


"It's just so much more of a valuable tool, and you're reducing police and suspect injury," said Taser instructor and Lexington Police Officer Mike Wright. "We tell our guys don't be quick to Tase people, but we're not going to be fighting, we're not going to be wrestling around."

Hardin said he decided to purchase the Tasers after his deputies found themselves alone in dangerous situations without timely backup available.

"Chief Deputy Jim Wilcher got into a situation a couple times that he could have used these," said Hardin, detailing a domestic dispute where a man the size of a linebacker rushed Wilcher with two chair legs and told (Wilcher) to kill him.

With a department short on funding and deputies, Hardin said the Tasers will help ensure the safety of officers working situations alone and provide him a little peace of mind.

"We will feel more safer, especially when we're out there by ourselves. You got a lot of things running through your mind," Hardin explained. "It scares me, more than anything."

Deputy Marty Elliott agreed. "I'd rather have it then O.C. (pepper spray). I've sprayed people with pepper spray and seen them keep coming."

But how does it feel to be hit with a snapping current, even at test strength? Hardin described it a like being struck by a ballpeen hammer. Deputy Brian Wofford offered a similar analogy.

"It's like getting hit in the top of your head with an electric sledgehammer," Wofford said. "The only thing going through your head is 'Please stop.'"

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