Mayor Ed Lee backs Tasers for police in wake of Mario Woods killing

San Francisco police officials have been pushing for officers to be equipped with Tasers, arguing that the devices would have prevented recent officer-involved shootings. (File photo)

San Francisco’s mayor has voiced his support for equipping all of The City’s police with Tasers, as part of an effort to reform the use of excessive force by officers, in the wake of the killing of Mario Woods earlier this month.

Ed Lee said this morning he supports giving police the stun-guns, which deliver an electrical shock, as one of the tools they can use to reduce the number of fatal shootings incidents.

Christine Falvey, a spokesperson for the mayor, would not give the San Francisco Examiner comment other than verifying that Lee supports giving Tasers to police. Lee announced his position on an early morning radio show Wednesday, said Falvey.

She would not give details about the mayor’s support for Tasers in terms of who in the force should be given the devices and how they should be used.

Officer Albie Esparza said the department plans to set up a Taser pilot program. This week the mayor asked the chief to draft a pilot program, said Esparza who had not other details.

Last week Lee said in the press conference the police department had to begin changing its use of force policies, but did not say whether he would back giving them Tasers.

Meanwhile, police and police union leaders have said officers should be equipped with Tasers, despite vocal opposition on the police commission at a meeting last week about the killing of Woods.

Opponents have argued the weapons — which deliver a powerful electrical shock that renders a person temporarily incapacitated and have been implicated as contributing to deaths — are dangerous, unregulated and could be used excessively by officers.

The renewed call for Tasers arose out of the Dec. 2 killing of Woods. Police approached Woods that day because he fit the description of a stabbing suspect.

Woods, 26, was eventually surrounded by more than five officers who used pepper spray and bean bags to subdue him. None of these less-lethal tools worked and when Woods tried to walk away five offices opened fired. The whole scene was captured by numerous bystanders who taped the killing on their cell phones.

Police have said Woods was threatening one of the officers, but video appears to show no such threat was present when he was shot.

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