Tucumcari police chief Tasers 14-year-old: Girl recovering after dart surgically removed from her head

By Chelle Delaney: Freedom New Mexico
Jul. 22, 2009

A 14-year-old Tucumcari girl is recovering at an Albuquerque hospital after being shot in the head with a Taser dart by Tucucmari Police Chief Roger Hatcher.

Now, her parents say they want the police department to review its policies for using the Taser.

The girl was hit in the head Thursday by one of two darts fired simultaneously as she was fleeing, Hatcher said.

The other dart lodged in her hip.

Hatcher said be believed he had no other option.

“There’s a lot of issues,” Hatcher said. “She committed a delinquent act. She was running from police across traffic without looking.”

Hatcher said he chased her, ordered her to stop and “then did what I had to do.”

Her mother, Stacy Akin, said her daughter underwent surgery Friday morning at University of New Mexico hospital in Albuquerque.

“One of the darts entered her skull,” said Akin, interviewed by telephone.

After a CAT scan, a hospital resident told her the dart was “in her brain a little bit, but not much,” Akin said.

She was in pediatric intensive care following the surgery, Akin said. “She seems OK, but she she’s in a lot of pain. Her head is hurting her real bad.”

Police were trying help Akin because she and her daughter had been fighting, Akin said.

Akin said while she could understand the use of a Taser on an adult, it shouldn’t be used on a child.

“She’s only 14, why?” Aikin asked.

Akin also said her daughter has epilepsy.

The girl’s father, Donny Martinez of Amarillo, said his daughter takes medication for the condition.

“I’d like to find out what happened,” Martinez said, adding, “Someone, independently should look at it” to see if excessive force was used.

Akin said she and her daughter were arguing over a cell phone.

Akin said she drove her daughter to the Tucumcari Police Department to seek help.

While in front of police headquarters, her daughter walked away, Akin said.

Hatcher said he was at another incident when he received a call that a young girl had run off.

Hatcher said he returned to department headquarters and talked to Aikin, who had a bloodied lip and scratches from a fight.

Hatcher said he found the girl at George Molinas Park.

Hatcher said he got out of his vehicle, called to her and she ran in front of his patrol car across Monroe Street without looking for traffic.

Both were in a dead run when the Taser was fired, Hatcher said.

Hatcher said if he’d been able to grab her and put her on the ground, he would have done it instead of firing the Taser.

“There was a lawful reason to do that,” said Hatcher. “I didn’t have another choice and had to get her stopped.”

Akin and her daughter were new in town, Hatcher said, and he did not know where she would go.

Hatcher said if he had not stopped her the consequences might have been worse.

Taser stun guns deliver a 50,000-volt electrical current that incapacitates a person, Hatcher said.

By the time, the darts reach a person that current has greatly decreased, he said.

Hatcher said he plans to refer the case to the Juvenile Probation Office Monday for possible charges.

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