Sandwich Patrolman Lauren E. Gilrein use her recently issued Taser for the first time this week to subdue a suspect that had threatened a woman with a knife.
The patrolman responded to an Arnold Road home at 6:35 PM on Sunday night, after receiving a report of a man holding a knife to a woman’s throat.
“When I first arrived at the home, it was quiet. I went to the door and that’s when I heard a woman yelling from the top of the stairs. She came down the stairs, screaming that he had a knife to her face,” she said.
The patrolman said when the woman opened the door, she could see the man, 35-year-old John Scaramuzzo, charging down the stairs. He was unarmed, but “very angry and agitated,” Patrolman Gilrein said.
At that point, the patrolman said she tried grabbing the man’s wrists, in an effort to settle him down. “He pulled away and walked toward the kitchen, saying, ‘you better call for back up’,” she said.
At that point, Patrolman Gilrein could not be sure whether the man was going into the kitchen to get a weapon.
“When he pulled away from me, I knew I was going to have to use the Taser. I did one five-second deployment, on his back,” she said.
“I didn’t have much time to think and I just relied on my professional training,” she added.
The patrolman said the deployment was enough to subdue the man.
“After the deployment, he stayed on the floor and complied with my orders,” she said.
She said this was exactly the type of incident described in the taser-training classes she attended two months ago where the use of tasers is recommended.
“Instead of me having to use physical force with him, I was able to subdue him with the taser. Going to the training classes really opened my eyes about the use of the tasers and how they can prevent injury,” she said.
Without the taser, she said, the other options available to her would have been to use pepper spray on the suspect and then go hand-to-hand with him. She described Mr. Scaramuzzo as “not very tall, but a pretty muscular guy.”
Police Chief Peter N. Wack said any time an officer has to use physical force to subdue a suspect, there is a risk that both the officer and the suspect could be injured. He said this is the type of call that had the potential to escalate to a deadly force incident.
“I’m very happy I had this good modern-day policing tool,” Patrolman Gilrein said.
According to Chief Wack, last year’s capital budget included $9,000 to purchase the electric shock weapons to equip and train four sergeants in the department and to “get the program started.” This year’s capital budget called for spending $50,000 to finalize the project to equip and train all officers in the department with the weapon.
The chief said this is the second time that a Sandwich police officer used a taser in the field. He said just a few months ago, Sergeant Jason M. Keene used the taser on a man he was attempting to take into custody.
“He was a very large man and not complying with police directives,” Chief Wack said.
Patrolman John A. Manley, who arrived at the Arnold Road on Sunday night after Patrolman Gilrein had taken Mr. Scaramuzzo into custody, located the knife that he allegedly held to the victim’s face.
Mr. Scaramuzzo was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, a knife, resisting arrest and four outstanding arrest warrants.
He pleaded not guilty in Barnstable District Court this week.