Human Rights commissioner to talk Monday about being tasered
GREENFIELD — The town’s Human Rights Commission will hold a public meeting where one of its members will discuss his experience of being tasered by Greenfield police.
Hassan Elzeneiny will discuss the “social implications of using force by Greenfield police” and policy options for the use of “less-than-lethal force” by police.
The commission will meet Monday at 6 p.m. in the meeting room on the second floor of Town Hall. Elzeneiny, who invites all from the public to attend, will make his presentation between 6 and 7 p.m.
Elzeneiny, who said he was tasered by Greenfield police in 2011 after having a severe panic attack in his lawyer’s office on Main Street, said he called “911” for help and ended up in the back of a police cruiser after being tasered.
Elzeneiny said on Dec. 29, 2011, he had a “devastating panic attack,” which happened following a series of court losses that affected his health and well-being. He said he was unable to get his prescriptions filled and felt himself “spiraling down emotionally and into agonizing panic.”
Elzeneiny said when police arrived at 173 Main St., the office of attorney Jack Curtis, they “spoke and behaved considerately,” but when they offered and Elzeneiny agreed to be transported to the hospital, police tried to handcuff him.
“I refused the order to present my wrists for handcuffing,” said Elzeneiny.
He said he was the one who called for help, so felt he shouldn’t be treated like a criminal.
Elzeneiny said he pushed an officer’s hand and it apparently became grounds for police to declare him a Section 12, which is a violent or mentally unstable person who must be transported to the emergency room.
He said police tasered him with 50,000 volts.
Elzeneiny filed a complaint for unwarranted use of force shortly after.
He said since then, he has discussed the matter with Mayor William Martin, police, Public Safety Commission Chairman Gary Longley, but with no satisfaction.
Longley said the commission reviewed the local police policy concerning tasers and the use of force, as requested by Elzeneiny.
“I’m not sure what the commission could do beyond that,” said Longley. “The use of tasers has been in existence for a while now. A taser is used to protect a person or police. It is much better tolerated than other devices like batons and such.”
Greenfield police policy allows for the use of “low-lethality force,” which would include a taser gun, when deadly force is not authorized and to bring a situation under control.
It can be used to protect an officer or others from physical harm, to restrain or subdue a resistent individual while making a lawful arrest or placing a person in protective custody, or to bring an unlawful situation safely and effectively under control.
Greenfield police use the X26 Taser, which is to be used when “a subject’s actions constitute active resistance in the assault level.”
The local policy says the taser “may be deployed whenever a situation arises when the use of force techniques exposes the officer, the subject or the public to unnecessary danger, or when other force techniques have been or may be ineffective.”
“I think the town as a whole needs to begin looking at this issue more closely,” said Elzeneiny. “We need to decide what kind of a community we want to be and how we want our police department to respond to these types of situations.”