Police Say Officer Was Justified in Shooting 14-Year-Old With Taser

By: Zac Schultz
By: Zac Schultz

"The shock was like for 5 seconds." Dalarence Goodwin has not forgotten what it was like to be hit with a taser.

But Madison Police Chief Noble Wray says Officer Tim Harder was justified when he shot Dalarence January 21st at Memorial High School.

"I have also reviewed portions of the videotape regarding that incident and have found his actions to meet our policy requirements for using the taser," says Chief Wray.

Officer Harder was arresting the now 15-year-old Dalarence on a warrant for missing court.
The warrant was in error–so Dalarence says he tried to get away from the officer to ask him to call his mother.

During the struggle Dalarence broke free and started moving away from the officer.

"I was about 10 feet away when he tased me with it," says Dalarence.

Dalarence's mother Laquitha Goodwin is mad because he was shot in the back. "He wasn't attacking Officer Harder, he wasn't armed or dangerous."

Chief Wray would not go into details, but he says Dalarence was not the victim. "There was a clear physical altercation. The young man was placed under arrest."

Chief Wray says the press conference wasn't to defend Officer Harder's actions, but rather to explain how tasers reduce the number of injuries to officers and suspects.

"I believe that the taser allows for a more humane way of dealing with those very difficult encounters," says Chief Wray.

The Police Department uses a force continuum to determine what level of force is justified to stop an illegal act.

In Madison, a taser is considered to be more force than pepper spray, but less than a punch or a kick.

"You would be able to deploy the taser before you would be able to go up to a suspect and deliver a punch or a kick to them," says Lt. Vic Wahl.

Laquitha and the police will continue to disagree on whether Officer Harder used too much force.

"We always will use the minimum or least amount of force necessary to stop an act," says Chief Wray.

"I just can't understand why a taser had to be used in this situation," says Laquitha.

Chief Wray says the police department won't make any changes in the taser policy but they will be conducting a review.

They will:
Ask the state to create a statewide policy governing tasers.
Host a public forum on the use of tasers.
Present their findings to the Mayor and the Common Council.

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