Cop Watch

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Student is county's 18th hit with Taser

An Orange County deputy sheriff used a Taser on another high school student this week as a debate continued on whether stun guns belong in schools.

It was the seventh Taser incident at Colonial High over the past two years and the 18th in Orange County schools during that time. All involved deputy sheriffs.

Details of the incident came to light Friday, shortly before a task force appointed by Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary released a report urging more Taser training for deputies but saying they have shown restraint in using the devices.

The deputy working at Colonial High and the student disagree on when the Taser was used during a lunchtime scuffle Thursday outside the cafeteria.

Deputy Mark Leubscher reported that Phillip Planteny, 17, attacked him when he tried to break up a fight. A second deputy held Phillip to the ground while Leubscher gave him two shots with the stun gun, according to the officer's report.

Phillip told his mother he stepped in to break up the fight, which about 300 students gathered to watch. He told her he already was handcuffed when Leubscher used his Taser. She was outraged.

"When you are handcuffed, there is no reason you should be tased," said Olga Hernandez. "And in school a Taser is not called for."

Another student, Luiz Ortiz, 15, said he saw the fight and could not understand why the Taser was used.

"They put him in handcuffs and then they tased him," Ortiz said.