Driver's use of Taser legal
A Yuba City man legally used a 50,000-volt Taser gun to thwart an alleged carjacker, authorities said.
No laws prevented Daniel Garza from carrying and using the weapon and no permit is required, city and county law enforcement officials said.
“It was legal, what that gentleman did,” said Yuba City Police Department spokeswoman Shawna Pavey.
Garza said he and his wife were sitting in the front seat of their pickup in the parking lot of the Yuba City Wal-Mart store Sunday when Justin Ray Atkinson opened the rear passenger door and climbed in, repeatedly saying, “I have a weapon.”
Garza, owner of a Yuba City security firm, said he asked his wife to hand him the Taser from the glove compartment and fired it at Atkinson.
The civilian model of the Taser owned by Garza fires two barbs a distance of 15 feet. The barbs stick in the target's clothing or skin and deliver a disabling jolt of electricity.
Atkinson began shaking and screaming and fell out the rear door onto the ground. The barbs fell out, Garza said, so he held the weapon against Atkinson and threatened to deliver another jolt. Police arrived a moment later.
Atkinson did not seem to show any after-effects from the jolt, said Garza.
Yuba City Deputy Police Chief Jeff Webster said his department does not oppose civilians carrying Tasers or stun guns but generally encourages potential crime victims to escape if possible instead of responding with force.
Sutter County Undersheriff J. Paul Parker said there is no license needed or mandatory training classes. He and other sources said the manufacturer of the Taser offers training to customers.
The Sheriff's Department began using Tasers about two years ago. The civilian model used by Garza does not “pulse” as fast as the police model but shocks the target longer, giving the user more time to get away, said Parker.
Robert Boehm, owner of the Shooter's Paradise gun shop in Yuba City, said he plans to begin selling Tasers next year. Boehm said he already sells stun guns which, unlike the Taser, must be held against the target.
Boehm said he plans to offer Taser training.
Garza said he bought his Taser from Advanced Security Institute, a West Sacramento training and supply firm, for $1,150. He said he went there to buy a handgun but was advised to buy the Taser, which turned out to be the right weapon in Sunday's incident. Atkinson did not have a gun, police said.
“It was very effective,” he said.
Atkinson was released from the Sutter County Jail, where he was being held for public intoxication, about 12 hours before the incident the Wal-Mart parking lot.
He was being held Monday without bail for violating probation conditions.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Rob Young can be reached at 749-4710. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.