LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Louisville police review officer's use of stun gun on suspect accused of hiding drugs in his mouth


The Louisville Metro Police Department says it is reviewing an incident in which a police officer used a stun gun to force a suspect to spit out drugs allegedly hidden in his mouth.

Police said Carlos D. Beauchamp was suspected of hiding a crack rock in his mouth after being pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt about 3 p.m. Tuesday in the 1600 block of Oak Street.

After Beauchamp refused numerous requests to empty his mouth, an officer held the stun gun against his body and shocked him, causing him to spit out "a small amount of suspected crack cocaine," according to an arrest report.

Many police departments have policies that specifically forbid using a stun gun to force a suspect to spit out illegal drugs, said Tom Barker, a criminal justice professor at Eastern Kentucky University.

"The court's going to throw that case right out," Barker said. "That is a weapon used to control aggressive behavior. It's not a search weapon."

Police are not commenting on the case while the investigation is pending, said Dwight Mitchell, an LMPD spokesman.

Beauchamp, 31, of the 2100 block of Greenwood Road in Louisville, was arrested and charged with tampering with evidence, trafficking in a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, not using a seat belt and not having his driver's license with him.

His arrest report names two officers, Christopher Frisby and William Vogt, but it does not say which used the stun gun.

Each time a stun gun is used, a report is filed that is reviewed by the officer's supervisor, Mitchell said. He said the report could also be reviewed by the police chief or someone in his office if supervisors feel the case warrants more scrutiny. Officers who violate department policy could face disciplinary action.

According to the LMPD policy manual, the use of stun guns "is authorized for, but not limited to ... persons refusing to obey an officer's commands through active resistance."

Mitchell declined to say whether Beauchamp's actions constituted "active resistance."

LMPD's policy manual does not address the use of stun guns when a suspect hides drugs.

Barker said stun guns are useful when used properly and prevent injuries to officers when subduing aggressive people, but reports of improper use could one day cause them to be banned, he said.

A 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Police Executive Research Forum discouraged officers from using a stun gun directly against someone's body - preferring instead that officers shoot probes at a distance.

It said the only exception was when the officer was "in close quarters" with the person "for the purpose of protecting the officer or creating a safe distance between the officer and subject."

Using a stun gun against someone's body "is of questionable value" because the method has "limited effectiveness" and "may even exacerbate the situation by inducing rage in the subject," the report said.

The area where Beauchamp was pulled over is known for drug dealing, his arrest report says.

The officer asked Beauchamp to step out of his car after he admitted to smoking marijuana, the report says. Officers noticed something in Beauchamp's mouth and used an "open hand hold" to keep Beauchamp from swallowing it, according to the report.

Officers were concerned for Beauchamp's health and the "integrity of evidence," the report said.

Police said they also found hydrocodone, marijuana and $415 in cash in Beauchamp's pants.