Memphis police apologize after officers brought electric shields, capable of delivering 320 volts of electricity, to a protest.
A “regrettable mistake” is what Memphis officers are calling their aggressive and brutal tactic, which happened while they were trying to manage protests in the city. On Thursday, a small group of protestors took to the streets following the decision made in #BreonnaTaylor’s case, where they were met by police standing outside the Shelby County Jail. According to Vice Media, police officers were carrying shock shields that can omit up to 320 volts of electricity.
One protestor named Hunter Demster said the officers just wanted to show off their new weapons. “They wanted to show off their new toys, is what it appeared to me. There were 25 people out at this rally. I think that was an intimidation tactic, I think that was an escalation tactic,” said Demster. On Friday, Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. released a statement calling the act a “regrettable mistake,” adding that his office plans to modify its policy to never allow the use of the “taser shields” again.
“On Thursday, the protestors left Poplar Avenue and attempted to enter the Annex. Members of the Jail’s Detention Response Team were deployed to assist with security, and they held the doors shut. They were outfitted in protective gear and displayed their two (2) non-lethal electric pulse shields (“e-shield”). That team is the only group in the Sheriff’s Office permitted to have such shields, and the usage is highly regulated,” said the sheriff. “Sheriff Floyd Bonner, Jr. says this is a regrettable mistake and directed policy modifications that will prohibit those shields from being displayed or used outside of the Jail again. The Sheriff’s Office recently upgraded to this newest less-lethal technology in July 2020 but has had other less-lethal shock shields since 1990s following a riot in the Jail. The new shield is capable of delivering a pulsating shock of 210-320 volts for a fraction of a second.”
The company that sold the force the $895 shields is called Compliant Technologies. It said that it feels the weapons will “create a more amiable atmosphere” between police and regular people, who they say are “demonizing our men and women in uniform through political agenda, social media, and one-sided video,” according to a post on the company’s Facebook page.