(CN) – Three Seattle police officers were justified in shooting a pregnant woman three times with a Taser gun after she refused to sign a speeding ticket, the 9th Circuit ruled.
Malaika Brooks was driving her son to school when she was stopped for speeding in a school zone. Brooks argued with the officers, refused to sign the speeding ticket and accused Officer Donald Jones of “being racist.”
Instead of issuing Brooks the ticket and letting her go, Officer Stephen Daman told Brooks, who was seven months pregnant, that she was under arrest. She refused to get out of her car and remained in the driver’s seat with the ignition running and her door closed, according to the opinion.
The officers threatened to hit her with the Taser, and Officer Juan Ornelas “employed a pain compliance technique, bringing Brooks left arm up behind her back.” Brooks stiffened her body and held on to the steering wheel to “frustrate her removal from the car.”
The officers used the stun gun three times on Brooks while Ornelas held her arm behind her back.
Two months later Brooks delivered a healthy baby. She filed assault and battery charges against the officers, and the district court denied them immunity because of a “clearly established constitutional violation.”
The three-judge, Seattle-based appeals panel ruled 2-1 to reverse the district court’s ruling because Brooks could have picked up the keys which where taken out of the ignition and thrown on the floorboard while she was being restrained and driven off erratically.
“It would also be incorrect to say that Brooks posed no threat to officers,” Judge Cynthia Hall wrote for the majority.
In her dissent, Judge Marsha Berzon called the ruling “off-the-wall,” and said that the officers had no right to place Brooks under arrest for a traffic violation that may or may not have happened.
“I fail utterly to comprehend how my colleagues are able to conclude that it was objectively reasonable to use any force against Brooks, let alone three activations of a Taser,” Berzon wrote.