The NYPD is investigating a confrontation between police officers and tenants in a Bronx apartment hallway that led to a sergeant shooting a 17-year-old pregnant girl with a Taser—an apparent violation of the police Patrol Guide.
In a scuffle documented on cellphone video and uploaded to YouTube, Dailene Rosario is seen screaming "I'm pregnant! I'm pregnant! He's going to break my fucking arm!" as a crowd of both uniformed and plainclothes officers attempt to arrest her. Seconds later, an NYPD cop fires his stun gun at Rosario, causing her to wail in pain and fall to the floor; later in the video, the weapon's electrified barbs can be seen sticking to the girl's skin.
"She's pregnant! She's pregnant!" onlookers yell at the gaggle of NYPD officers in the hallway as Rosario is arrested.
According to the Daily News, officers from the 47th Precinct in Wakefield had been called about an unrelated asthma attack in Rosario's apartment building shortly before 10 p.m. last Friday, when they happened upon two men fighting in a hallway on the fourth floor. Rosario told the tabloid her boyfriend and brother had been fighting over a video game, but then settled the dispute and went back inside their apartment.
Rosario alleges that two female NYPD officers then knocked on her door, asking to be allowed in and claiming she and her sister were exchanging blows. When officers first attempted to handcuff Rosario, she threw herself to the ground and sat on her hands, according to Fox8.
A doctor reportedly assured Rosario that her unborn child, who is 14 weeks along, was unharmed by the Taser's electric shock. As she described the stun gun attack to the News, Rosario stressed "It's like your whole side is on fire and you're being stabbed at the same time...The hook was embedded into my skin so they had to cut it to take both the Tasers out."
The NYPD Patrol Guide advises officers not to use stun gun weapons on children, the elderly, or obviously pregnant females. A police spokesperson confirmed to Gothamist that an Internal Affairs investigation is underway.
In a report filed by the NYPD, Officer Taralena Gerrato alleged Rosario screamed "I don't want to talk to you!" and shoved her into a door frame in the moments leading up to the tasing. Gerrato also claimed Roasio flailed her arms while resisting arrest. The News reports that no disciplinary action has taken place in connection to last Friday's incident.
Rosario was detained by police and released last Saturday after being charged with resisting arrest, second degree harassment, and disorderly conduct.
The model of Taser used to stun Rosario was the X26, a popular weapon sold to police departments around the world by Taser International under the marketing pitch "to protect life and protect truth." But scientific studies have debunked Taser's claims; stun guns like the one used on Rosario can and do kill. In recent years New York City has seen multiple cases of Taser use resulting in the death of unarmed suspects, and at least one of the cases has resulted in a $25 million lawsuit. Across the country, the Washington Post estimates that one person per week dies after being Tasered by police. Still, the NYPD is embracing them, purchasing thousands of new 50,000 volt X26s from Taser and instructing their officers to use them more often—last year the Times noted that restrictions on how many times an officer may repeatedly stun a person have been lifted.
After reviewing the video of Rosario's tasing, researcher and documentary filmmaker Nick Berardini said he thinks the company that produces Tasers is partly responsible.
"This young woman was simply upset, and, at most, mildly uncooperative, and because officers around the country still believe it's safer to taser someone than try to use their non-force options to deescalate the situation, too often misuse this potentially dangerous weapon on people who should never be at risk," Beradini said. "It's another in a long line of grossly inappropriate taser uses because officers are horribly trained on tasers. Taser International, the only manufacturer of tasers, controls that training."
"Taser International believes that using their weapon is the best way to end just about any confrontation, and conveniently, they've made billions hawking that reckless pitch to a law enforcement culture already eager to use force."
Taser did not immediately respond to request for comment.