Could Tasers have been used instead in officer-involved shooting?

Tasers in Richmond County
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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Feb. 1, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Deputies say using deadly force is always the last possible option, but what if they had another choice? Tasers are often used as a backup.

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office doesn't currently have Tasers for road deputies, but they are working on funding for them.

The deadly officer-involved shooting on Friday brings up the question: If the deputy had been equipped with a Taser, would the suspect be dead?

Joshua Roberson lives at Fox Den Apartments and heard the deadly gunshots fired by the deputy Friday morning.

He had a few questions about why the suspect had to be killed, saying, "If you have a man and tell them to put their hands up or down by their side, and they're still reaching, I think Taser force should be used."

But, unfortunately, Tasers aren't an option yet for Richmond County deputies.

"At the present time, our road patrol deputies do not have Tasers, we are in fact, transitioning to those," Sheriff Richard Roundtree said.

The GRU police force all uses Tasers now, and Maj. Gene Maxwell says it's the best crime-fighting tool they have.

"The violence was getting officers hurt and that's why we made the decision to go to Tasers, so that we wouldn't have to go hands on as much," Maxwell said.

But he says Tasers aren't their only tool -- they still carry guns.

"You don't want to take the chance. You can't meet lethal force with non-lethal force," he said.

In the deputy-involved shooting, investigators say the suspect had weapons in his home, and he was using a knife when the deputy shot him, justifying deadly force.

In a news conference Friday, Roundtree says they plan to start phasing in Tasers for their road deputies within the next 30 days.

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