Report: Officer who was shot, nearly murdered during traffic stop tried tasing suspect first

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The following contains editorial content written by a current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today. 

DOTHAN, AL – We at Law Enforcement Today recently reported on a seemingly standard traffic stop enacted in Dothan, Alabama, where a police officer was non-fatally shot after pulling a driver over for a missing license plate.

This just so happens to be a case where police tried using a Taser when pinned against a firearm – but the Taser wasn’t effective, and officers had to upgrade to using a firearm against the suspect (after an officer got shot).

Here’s the rundown on the April 19th incident in Dothan, Alabama.

In that report, a Dothan Police officer pulled someone over on April 19th at around 12:30 p.m. for allegedly not having a visible license plate.

When the officer approached the suspect’s vehicle, they had noticed a firearm in the suspect’s car. After said discovery, the suspect reportedly fled the stop until arriving at an intersection a short distance away from the original stop.

By the time the officer and his backup caught up to the suspect at the intersection, the suspect had allegedly pulled out the firearm.

Interestingly, even after officers realized they were facing a lethal threat in that scenario, police reportedly tried using a taser on the suspect before getting shot, according to Dothan Police Chief Will Benny:

“Officers attempted to use a Taser to incapacitate the suspect. The suspect began firing at an officer and struck him in the left leg. The officer and his backup fired at the suspect, ending the confrontation.”

Now pay close attention to that statement, the series of events as relayed by officials note that officers tried using a Taser and then the statement points out that the suspect begins shooting a gun right after the Taser deployment.

Obviously, the Taser failed to accomplish what it’s designed to do – which can happen often with the device when used in the field.  

Anyone that has spent any amount of time reviewing the comment sections of news reports regarding officer-involved shootings will likely have seen comments to the effect of “why didn’t police just use a Taser,” – or some variation of that.

Well, that’s because Tasers are effective in certain situations.

But in the real world, police officers don’t have the ability to craft a controlled environment where a Taser yields the favorable result it was designed to deliver.

Even a report from NPR that was published back in June of 2019 showcased that, according to data gathered from some of the largest police departments in the country, Tasers carry an efficacy rate that would not be appealing to anybody facing a life or death scenario.

The data gathered regarding Tasers from police departments across the country showed that in Dallas there was a 68% effectiveness rate, in Fort Worth there was a 62.4% effectiveness rate, in Los Angeles there was a 57.1% effectiveness rate – out of the 12 police departments surveyed in this study, the average affectedness of a Taser wound up being 68.4%.

The reason why Tasers have such a low effectiveness rate is because there are multiple points of failure associated with using a Taser. Not to mention, there’s only so much range that can be afforded to a fairly standard police-issued Taser.

Tasers are great in certain scenarios, under very limited circumstances when faced with aggressive subjects.

But Tasers are not this magical, super effective, applicable-in-all-instances tool that should be relied upon on every occasion when facing grievous bodily harm or death.

As for the other sorts of comments coming from the habitually critical of life-or-death situations where police use lethal force – such as the “shoot them in the leg” crowd – just ignore or lampoon those people.  

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As mentioned above, we at Law Enforcement Today previous reported on the incident from Alabama where an officer was non-fatally shot. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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DOTHAN, AL – Officials say a suspect is deceased and a Dothan Police officer is hospitalized after reportedly being shot during what was described as a “routine” traffic stop on April 19th.

The incident was said to have occurred at approximately 12:30 p.m. on April 19th in the area of Third Avenue and Trim Street.  

Dothan Police Chief Will Benny stated that one of his officers, who has not been identified by name as of this writing, had pulled over a motorist for allegedly not having a visible license plate.

When the officer approached the vehicle in question, the officer was said to have noticed a weapon inside of the vehicle. The driver reportedly fled in the vehicle thereafter.

The unidentified officer pursued the suspect vehicle for a short distance until the suspect vehicle had stopped at a nearby intersection. At that time, the driver reportedly exited the vehicle while in possession of a firearm.

Chief Benny stated that the officer attempted to use their Taser on the suspect, before coming under fire and getting shot:

“Officers attempted to use a Taser to incapacitate the suspect. The suspect began firing at an officer and struck him in the left leg. The officer and his backup fired at the suspect, ending the confrontation.”

The unnamed officer was said to have been doing relatively well after undergoing surgery. The deceased male suspect’s identity has not been revealed by officials as of this writing.

Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continue to gather further updates to this developing investigation.

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