Police defend taser use on student

Things are back to normal at Fowler High School, but Monday afternoon, it was a very different story. Two separate fights ended in four arrests, one so serious that an officer had to break it up with a taser. Tuesday, Syracuse Police defended the School Resource Officer's actions.

The violent afternoon began when the officer received a call that several administrators were on the grounds trying to break up a fight between students on Seymour and Geddes Streets. "Officer Stone also enters into the struggle and that time he's trying to break the fight up, he's struck in the back of the head by an unknown individual," said Syracuse Police Chief Gary Miguel.

Those students were handcuffed, but moments later, another fight was reported on Magnolia Street where the officer found a female violently hitting a male. Police say the officer warned the female to stop, but after getting no response, he had no choice but to fire his taser in her direction. He hit the male instead. "What we do know is that this taser does not work on this person for the reason being he remains standing, he remains coherent, he remains talking to Officer Stone," Miguel said. "In fact, at one point he asks Officer Stone, 'what did you do that for?'"

Chief Miguel says often the noise of the taser is enough to intimidate students. But when does an altercation call for this type of action? The Syracuse City School District handbook states School Resource Officers "shall be reasonable when dealing with students, and shall refrain from using arrest or physical techniques in non-criminal circumstances, unless it can be justified as absolutely necessary."

Sgt. Tom Rathbun says in Monday's case, it was. "'Use of force' is when an individual uses physical force or threatened physical force against a police officer or another person, then a police officer can use physical force."

Three female students were arrested for disorderly conduct and one male student was charged with menacing. There may be additional charges filed against other students involved.

Chief Miguel says the taser has been used at least 700 times in the City of Syracuse. Within the district it's been used only once, at Corcoran High School.