LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A convicted drug dealer who should have served 50-years for his crimes had his sentence overturned because an Appeals Court found Lubbock Police Officers used tasers excessively.
Officers arrested Anthony Hereford in May of 2007 for evading an earlier traffic arrest when they noticed he had something in his mouth, possibly drugs, which he refused to spit out. "They threw him on the car, choked him out. He still wouldn't open his mouth. They tased him again," said Hereford's attorney, Susan Rowley.
The officers involved, Williams, Arp, and Holmes, then took him to the hospital where Rowley says the incident continued. "They tased him another 8 to 10 times, mostly in the groin, while he was hand cuffed, while the medical staff was there, at the hospital," said Rowley.
Officers eventually got the drugs out of Hereford's mouth, which a Lubbock court used to find him guilty of possession with intent to deliver in May of 2008. However, last month a District Appeals Court let him off. "They agreed that evidence should never have been let in. That it should have been suppressed because it was illegally obtained. When you torture someone to get evidence. You can't do that," said Rowley.
The Appeals Court's Opinion claims one would only have to recall their first year of law school to see this violation, and then listed several cases that set precedence. The Appeals Court also called the attitude of the officers "cavalier" towards "The use of a weapon known to inflict pain, cause burns, and always involves risk of death."
The Opinion also said, "No one accused the defendant of being violent or physically aggressive." State Representative Delwin Jones said there is a distinct difference between self-defense and non compliance, and tasers should be used in self defense. He feels policies should restrict and guide taser use, and he hopes law enforcement steps up to make those policies. "I think they're the ones that have a responsibility, and if they refuse that responsibility, that's when legislative action occurs. Hopefully they will develop guidelines that are strong enough," Jones said.
Rowley agrees the police department should examine their taser use, but isn't confident that will happen. "They kind of laughed about it in court. They were smug about it. It was not an issue to them, and maybe with this decision coming down they'll understand," she said.
NewsChannel 11 left several messages with multiple officers at the Lubbock Police Department, but none of them returned our calls to comment on this case.
©2010 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.