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Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Back in the news today, a story that I had wanted to write about when it happened, but I got caught up in some other stuff and never got around to it.

In May, a great grandmother was tasered twice by a police officer at a traffic stop. Watch the video. Was this right? This is something that Todd and I definitely disagree on. I side with the grandmother, he sides with the police officer. The story is back in the news because she accepted a $40,000 settlement in the case. Here are my thoughts.

First off, NO, I do not think she should have gotten $40,000 for this. While I do (sort of) side with her, I don't think any kind of monetary award should be given to her. In fact, the only thing I'd truly support would be for her to pay her fine for speeding and get on with her life. There are lessons to be learned - for both her and the officer, and giving her that much money does nothing and is just greedy on her part. That is coming from the county, that is public money.

However, in the actual event, I side with her. Was she being bitchy and overreacting? Yes. Should she have acted the way she did? Absolutely not. Still, that doesn't give the officer free reign to just taser her. He is a trained professional. She is not. He should be able to diffuse the situation without using violence.

The second she started to get uppity (I think "uppity" is an appropriate word here), he raised his voice, yelled at her, and then pretty much went straight to the taser. While she was acting irrational and immature and frankly stupid, he should have been able to control her without the taser. He should not have continued raising his voice, which only made the situation worse. He led that scene so that it became a shouting match between the two of them and NONE of it was necessary. Don't even tell me that he couldn't have cuffed her without tasing her. He was not in danger, and honestly should have continued talking to her before asking her to get out of the car. He should have calmed her down because that is what he is TRAINED TO DO. That is his JOB.

People should be upset about the abuse of tasers that is going on. Luckily, she wasn't hurt, but tasers are not 100% safe. They should not be abused, and I hate this trend where police departments are issuing tasers to their officers and acting as though it's perfectly ok to tase anyone who doe anything out of line. There are lots of angry people in the world, and police officers are just (gasp!) going to have to learn to deal with them. Without violence. It's not a game, and those are not toys.

One thing I always find interesting when I see that tape is how the officer yells "TASERED!!" when he does it. Does this seem a little like he's playing a video game? And then, if all of this wasn't bad enough, she's on the ground, and he TASERS HER AGAIN! WTF? Why was that necessary??? What if someone had done that to HIS grandmother? Using a taser is not a decision to be taken lightly, and here it was. There are other ways to control the situation, and he should not have let is escalate until it was out of hand. He is unprofessional, and he should be trained better. She acted stupid, but HE is the one who should have taken control far earlier. He chose not to. He wanted to use his taser on somebody.


Mary said...

I agree with you. The woman was stupid for mouthing off so badly at the cop and shouldn't be rewarded with money for it--unless it's just to cover medical bills--and the cop was completely out of line in tasing her.

In ANY kind of job dealing with the public, you are going to have things like this happen and it's NEVER okay to escalate it. As the cop, that's your job to resolve that situation without making it worse. As I recall, Maryland State Police troopers, as a part of their training, have to submit to being tased, gassed, and some other things, so that they KNOW exactly what these non-lethal weapons do, so they are less likely to use the taser or tear gas lightly. I think that should probably be more widespread.

Wacky Neighbor said...

I agree with you, too. There is no reason whatsoever that the officer should have used his taser on her. It was absolutely reckless and it's the sort of stuff that the Constitution is supposed to protect people against. Given the fact that indeed people have been injured and even killed by tasers, I think it ought to call into question whether this person ought to be an officer at all.

Frankly, I am surprised the woman only settled for $40,000. It seems like a cheap price for some basic civil rights. (Perhaps the city was also willing to settle for what was certainly a fraction of their upcoming legal costs.)

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