Pierre, South Dakota – This past December, 911 dispatched police officers to the home of Mrs. Dawn Stenstrom. The babysitter phoned for assistance after the 8-year-old girl in her care got her hands on a knife and was threatening to cut herself. Officers arrived and didn’t waste any time taking action. They clearly and sternly asked the little girl to drop the knife or get shot with their stun gun. She failed to heed and one of the officers fired on her. The electric jolt knocked her out and sent her flying into the wall.
Officers quickly went to her aid by reviving her, pulling out the sharp hooks that are part of the taser gun, and dressing her wounds. Emergency responders took over from there. Everyone was glad to hear that the little girl didn’t take her life as she was threatening to do, but her mother is outraged that officers used a taser to subdue her. She demanded action and the police department responded by commissioning an independent investigation. All was well and fine until the results came back and exonerated the police officer from the charge of excessive force. It also claimed the taser gun was the appropriate tool to use in this case.
Mrs. Stenstrom has declared the ruling to be the equivalent of cow patties and has filed suit in circuit court asking for $100,000 plus pain and suffering. She is looking to exact her own pound of flesh from both the city and the officer who fired the stun gun. Her attorney claims that officers could have gotten the knife out of the girl’s hands in a gentler manner. The attorney suggested a diversionary approach by one officer would have allowed another to pounce on her and take the knife away sans much physical force. Then again, if the officers had gone with that approach and the girl killed herself, Mrs. Stenstrom would be demanding to know why they hadn’t used the taser.