According to a report in the Lawrence Eagle Tribuen, Carlos Domitriz of Lawrence, Massachusetts was stopped for driving through a stop sign near Lowell and Morton Streets. The officer making the stop was familiar with Domitriz, having arrested him on occasions in the past. This officer saw Domitriz prior to driving through the stop sign and decided to follow him. Once he saw the Motor Vehicle violation the office effectuated the stop. The report states that the officer was on routine patrol at the time.
Once the stop occurred the officer saw Domitriz “moving his hands from in between and under his seats to his mouth”. The officer believed this was an effort on Domitriz’ part to destroy drug evidence. In response, the officer opened the driver’s side door and tried to pull Domitriz out of the car. Supposedly the defendant offered resistance and even though the officer succeeded in subduing him Domitriz continued to resist. Two other officers approached. One of them used a Taser on the suspect. Domitriz was searched. On his possession officers found small bags of cocaine and heroin. A BB gun and cash were also seized as a result of the search. Domitriz was charged with Possession With Intent to Distribute Heroin and Possession With Intent to Distribute Cocaine as well as resisting arrest. The case is pending in the Lawrence District Court.
Tasers are weapons that use an electrical charge to disrupt voluntary muscle control. They are being used by law enforcement officers more frequently as a tool to subdue unruly suspects. These weapons have been used by the police for just over a decade and their popularity is increasing. Some say that these weapons save lives in that tasing is an alternative to firearms that were often used for the same purpose as Tasers. Tasers have however caused death or serious injuries. Some authorities have taken the position that these weapons have been abused by police officers. One sources claims that Tasers have killed at least five hundred people in this country. Over ninety percent of Taser casualties have involved people who are unarmed.
Here is what I see as a problem with the use of a Taser in this case. The arresting officer was able to get Domitriz from his car safely. The two responding officers could arguably have assisted this officer without the use of a weapon. As a matter of fact, there is no indication from this article that this type of force was at all necessary. Domitriz’s Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney will also be questioning the integrity of the stop in this case. Domitriz and the officer passed on another. The officer was on routine patrol, thus most likely in a marked cruiser. The officer turned around after seeing Domitriz. He followed Domitriz. Then, Domitriz ran a stop sign? Unlikely for someone who is carrying drugs and knows that he is being followed by the police will act in this manner. It makes no sense and casts doubt on the constitutionality of the stop. More and more Massachusetts Criminal Lawyers are going out to the locations of these “routine stops” these days trying to find security videotapes or surveillance cameras that focus on the areas near the alleged activity and finding that many officers “observations” are not as accurate as they have reported. Whether or not that is the case for Domitriz only time and good defense investigation work will tell.
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