Via Digby, your Jack-Booted thugs:
Sign the ticket, or they taser you. And then giggle about it.
This post is in: Outrage
Via Digby, your Jack-Booted thugs:
Sign the ticket, or they taser you. And then giggle about it.
Comments are closed.
[…] This was just a traffic stop, right? Thank god the kid didn’t do anything really bad. Most important thing to remember? The right of the police to keep and use tasers shall not be infringed. And if you don’t like it, shut up. Now do as you are told. Thank you. […]
[…] Morning In America […]
[…] New Democrat (the artist formerly known as the last “honest” conservative) John Cole predictably whines about the incident, unfortunately going so far as to call police “jack booted thugs,” and his leftist commentariot runs wild with the red meat. The response was so great that Michael D. just had to follow it up with more. John Cole wannabe, one Mr. Furious, makes a lot of noise about it but also fails to say anything rational. […]
Eternal vigilance is the price of integrity, Coach Gennaro.¹
I forget where I first saw this story (Balloon Juice, I think), but the case of a Utah State Trooper tasering a motorist deserves sufficient attention for the way it demonstrates excessive police use of tasers. The video, in case…
[…] As a follow-up to our post on Utah tasering from last week, this news conference in which officials claim the officer acted appropriately (well, when he used the taser. Everything else he screwed up, which is precisely the point- cops are using tasers instead of being good cops): […]
Ouch! That certainly sucks. How did the story play out from there? I’m no lawyer but I would think that cop would be disciplined, or fired, for that behavior.
I don’t think I’ve seen a story in awhile that made me so angry. The cop fucking LIED. There was no way that guy had any intention of trying to get away. And a nice illegal search of the truck too!
Disciplined or fired? That cop needs to do /jail time/. Seriously. He needs to be put away for felony assault and never be placed in a position of public trust again. There is absolutely no ambiguity in the dash video whatsoever. He assaulted that man with a weapon for asserting his constitutional rights, and then lied about it.
It certainly appears cut and dried. Was he charged? Where did this happen?
The crazy thing is that, as clear cut as this is- the cop refused to tell him what he had done wrong, refused to read him his rights, refused to warn him, refused to do ANYTHING to defuse the situation and in fact escalated it- someone will come in here and defend the cop or claim the cop was right because the driver had a “bad attitude.”
It demonstrates no such thing. It shows a cop acting in a totally out-of-control manner, a cop who should and likely will be disciplined, if not terminated. Sadly, there have always been such individuals among our law enforcement organizations, as well as society at large, but there is not a scintilla of hard evidence that indicates the number of such individuals is greater today than it was five, ten, twenty or thirty years ago. In fact, the statistics accumulated over the years show that the incidence of such aberrant behavior is less than it has been over recent decades.
In looking at the video more closely, I notice that the driver was putting his hand in his pocket as he was walking away from the cop. Now, I don’t think that’s why the cop blasted him, but it IS something to consider.
As ridiculous as the tazing was, for some reason what is equally getting gets my goat is this… what was that document the officer demanded the driver sign? The speeding ticket itself?!
I used to be a leadfoot so I’ve gotten four tickets in my life, so I’m rather used to the process here in Indiana. They ask for your license/registration. You give it to them. They tell you what they think you did wrong. You can agree or disagree, that’s kind of immaterial. They go back to their car and fill out the paperwork. They return and hand it to you. If they are giving you a ticket, then they explain the rest of the process…
If you agree, just pay the fine by a certain date. If you disagree, there’s a court date shown on the ticket, so appear in court at that time to discuss it with a judge.
It’s simple, and unless you agree to what the ticket says and are just going to pay it, you don’t sign *shit*. You double-especially don’t sign *shit* while the cop has you pulled over.
And yet the cop’s trying to arrest this guy for that? Is that really SOP in Utah? If it is, then Utah’s law is absolutely crazy IMO and needs an immediate change, plus I still think the cop had no intention of actually trying to calm things down but instead just wanted to flex his muscles… so even in this context the UPD’s gotta fire him.
If it isn’t SOP, then holy hell, he’s got even more to answer for than (IMO) an unjustified tazing.
Some people are born or brought up as slaves, and believe immediate, unquestioning submission to authority is best. Other people are authority figures who believe the same. Those are the folks that will defend this here, and are defending this in the YouTube comments.
The thing to do to avoid arrest and being tasered is to unquestioningly obey the police. But this is also the best way to lose your liberty.
BTW: That shouldn’t be read as me excusing the cop. A simple “Get your damned hand out of your pocket or I will use this thing” would have sufficed. No matter what though, John is right. This cop did nothing to diffuse the situation, and seemed more interested in escalating it.
I’ve looked this up. Signing a ticket is in no way an admission of guilt. It is simply an acknowledgement that you received it.
Also, 100% agreed with Dug Jay: This is not indicative of a trend. Certain members of the police have always been like this. The difference is that now the police have “non-lethal” weapons like tasers or pepper spray which allow them to exercise authority without the risk of a brusing, and we get to see it via YouTube.
Joseph: The YouTube comments are outrageous on BOTH sides, aren’t they? Kill all the pigs! Hang ’em with slit throats. I was appalled, but not surprised, to read some of the crap over there.
Michael D, since you’ve looked it up, is it grounds for arrest if you refuse to sign the ticket?
You never want to argue with a cop. They can fuck you up, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.
Michael D., yes, the YouTube comments outrageous on both sides. The commenters here and on other blogs generally express their thoughts at a higher level of prose. However, I am often left with the impression that the sentiment is still there. It’s just that the YouTube proles don’t know that they’re not actually supposed to come out and say those extremist things they are thinking.
Also Michael D., thanks for the info on the relevant law.
I commend to your attention the ACLU’s advice on what to do when stopped by the police. I keep wondering how many of the people who want us to argue with the police at stops are, in fact, provocateurs, who know very well that this an easy way to end up in jail.
In many states it is. Signing the ticket is a promise to appear in court or pay. Failure to sign is an arrestable offense in at least a few states.
Far and away, the worst thing about YouTube are the comments. You’re lucky if you can make it halfway down the page without threats of physical violence or questioning of sexuality.
Just so I don’t get accused of threadjacking, yeah, that cop was a dick. And he did what he did knowing that there was a camera recording it. Unreal.
I can’t believe anyone is taking youtube comments seriously. It’s like expecting advanced particle physics research from a special needs preschool class.
As long as we’re getting our outrage on this morning, let me offer up this video link on the insane practice of using SWAT teams to deliver ordinary warrants. Especially egregious when they target the wrong house, trash it and then do nothing to repair the damage they cause.
You got your drug war to thank for this sort of misconduct. The forfeiture laws only allow them to spend the money on equipment. Every podunk PD now has the stuff and then they look for any excuse to use it. We don’t have public safety officers anymore. We have paramilitary enforcers run amok.
This video is nuts. If I was the motorist, I would be suing this cop’s nuts off.
Happy Thanksgiving, all. And watch out – there are a lot of cops on the road this weekend. Hopefully this thug is no longer one of them.
All I can say is Thank Fucking God for camera mounted cop cars. It doesn’t seem to make a bit of difference in the behavior of a bastard, but it makes life easier for the victim when Deputy Hot Dawg tries to lie through his teeth.
So telling people to stick by their rights is all part of some plot to get folks thrown in jail, which means we really don’t have any rights regarding the legal system because any attempt to “argue” will get you thrown in jail.
Wow, looks like the Founding Fathers wasted a lot of time and ink!
Randolph Fritz said “I keep wondering how many of the people who want us to argue with the police at stops are, in fact, provocateurs, who know very well that this an easy way to end up in jail.”
Well lets see, Massey was white, he had short hair, a wife, kid, and a gas guzzling SUV. Odds are that he was a Republican and wanted to get arrested just for the prison rape.
There has indeed been a militarisation of the police. I see it in it my little burg of 10,000. The old local cops knew how to finesse and cajole and a lot less problems happened.
About the mid 80 to late 80’s a new batch began to show up. I was a bartender and occassionally had to call the cops because the boys were just a bit too “high-spirited”. The local cops would show up and tell everyone to sit down and behave and perhaps haul off the worst miscreants. Then, this town became a place for out of town recruits to get their chops so they could move onto bigger pastures with a resume under their belt.
After they showed up, when a bar fight broke out in a fisherman’s bar (unbelievable..i know… :P ) here would come the new cops in riot gear with guns drawn. Ridiculous. Though the time one of them, in full riot gear accidentally shot himslef in the foot is legend around here.
The last few years I’ve noticed that they are all sporting the skinhead look. Shaved heads. Again, very military. I really don’t like it at all.
Libby, I hear you on the SWAT thing. It is a para military mindset. Balko over at Reason does do great work tracking this stuff. The Police, like the President, are OUR EMPLOYEES. Communities need to remind them, politely, of this.
I am always polite to the Police, not oppossed to them. But I will go and complain to the CoP here if one of his officers has been an ass.
The ‘War on Drugs” is so ridiculous.
Yeah I get my best stuff from Radley, Capelza. His Militarization of Mayberry series is the best. As I recall he also has a really good white paper on this available on-line along with an interactive map.
This particular link came from a listserv I’m on though, from Paul Wright who owns Prison Legal News.
Has anyone tracked down more details about this case? It apparently happened on September 14. What I’m curious about is how the video made it onto YouTube. I can think of two possibilities: it was turned over to Massey as part of his legal action against the police, or someone in the police department leaked it. Not that this has much bearing on the facts of the case. . .
Well. Never been real big fan of guns, but maybe the cops should be picturing all of us having them in our glove compartments.
We’re civilized because we agree to be civilized. All these little police gadgets are ultimately just part of an arms race. A video like this certainly gives me pause.
Interesting that the SCOTUS is taking up a gun rights case sometime next year. I wonder if they’ll side with the NRA, or the jackbooted authoritarians? And does the NRA know who’s who in that mix?
[Suppresses guffaws] Officer Down! Officer Down! [sneeerk]
What I find alarming and depressing is one of the many things 9/11 changed is the make up of our police force, especially in this area. All of the best cops got put on anti-terrorism projects, which has resulted in knuckle dragging cretins who shouldn’t be allowed near a stapler to walk the streets with a gun.
what bothers me about this video is how “ordinary” it all seems — like these cops taser people all the time, and nobody is ever questioned, let alone punished, for it.
It is fairly well known now I think around the country..the story of the nearly blind woman in her 70’s who objected to the sanitation department taking her “treasures” fromher yard. With her 90 something mother watching they tasered the woman. So hard her glass eyeball flew out. Oh and she was also pepper-sprayed. Her name is Eunice Crowder.
This was in Portland. The police did settle for 145K.
Anyone else notice the cop pulls in front of the 40 MPH sign, just enough to block it, only to snare Massey once he’s passed it?
I was half expecting Jackie Gleason to step out.
The aclu put out a great video about protecting your rights during a traffic stop.
He NEVER should have gotten out of the car without locking his doors. And never EVER EVER consent to a search. EVER.
Sorry, guys. No one is more concerned for civil rights than I am. But, the police and the highway patrol have incredibly dangerous jobs. Their “clients” can and do escalate and become out-of-control on a regular basis. The time to nip it in the bud is early in the escalation. The guy driving should have simply acknowledged he had received the ticket and gone on his way. You aren’t admitting to guilt when you do so.
The time to plead your case is before the judge.
The cop actually followed many of the techniques (not arguing; just repeating instruction) those of us who work with unpredictable and potentially aggressive adults are taught. (I work in a psych hospital)
No one enjoys being bullied around but police work is one hard job. My daughter is a psych nurse and she has literally been beaten black and blue. Had to have facial surgery. Although I enjoy the heck out of my job (I’m 70 and still working ) outsiders really don’t comprehend the degree of escalating behavior the driver was exhibiting from trying to bargain (let me go back and see if the sign was actually there excalating to refusal to obey direct directives. It most likely would have come to some kind of physical aggression or fleeing had he not been arrested. A little discomfort is nothing compared to someone getting really hurt.
Details about the incident here.
Synopisis – the driver obtained the video through a public records request, and it appeared on YouTube. Authorities are now “speeding up” their investigation into the incident.
Awesome. I see the doctrine of pre-emptive tasering works much like pre-emptive war. Hey- he could be a “potentially aggressive adult,” so just nuke him and claim “someone really could have gotten hurt.” Lemme guess- his wife was supposed to treat the cop as a liberator?
Here on planet earth, where we aren’t treating everyone the same way we treat patients in a psychiatric hospital, we would recommend the cop actually answer the questions he had- namely, why am I being pulled over and how fast was I going etc.
Here is an idea- how ’bout the cop simply state that signing the document is not an admission of guilt?
BTW- love the “potentially aggressive adult” bit- doesn’t that classification used to justify police escalation include, well, EVERYFUCKINGBODY? I hope the cops never arrest your wife/girlfriend/mother for being a “potential prostitute.”
There certainly seems to be the idea amongst enforcement folk that the taser is just a benign way of taking out a miscreant. Unfortunately people die sometimes from the thing. In Canada there is quite the furor over a Polish chap who got tasered and then died in Vancouver a week or so ago.
The cop actually followed many of the techniques (not arguing; just repeating instruction) those of us who work with unpredictable and potentially aggressive adults are taught. (I work in a psych hospital)
Amazing. Refusing to answer questions he’s legally obligated to answer, not giving adequate warning of compliance, violating man’s constitutional rights, filing a fraudulent official report, and felony assault–these are the techniques you use at your hospital?
Great bouncing cherry-flavored gummi christs, it’s a wonder you haven’t lost your license. Maybe you should watch the same video everyone else has.
The scary thing is that this worthless scumbag isn’t even on administrative leave. He’s still out there on the streets. With any luck, he will reap what he has karmically sowed.
Are you even aware that there are significant differences between some states about this stuff? Or you just found a reference about how it’s done in whatever state and figured it applied everywhere? Maybe in your state you have to sign the ticket, but not in mine, and certainly not everywhere. In mine, it means you’re pleading guilty, and you are never required to sign it while receiving it.
Please use the internet more wisely.
I’ve stolen that phrase, and I’m keeping it.
And certainly never sign a ticket that you don’t even know what it is charging you with.
Congratulations, I used to work in one. Was party to some “pre-emptive” Haldol injections and the always enjoyable five-points. Please explain what the hell this has to do with police dealing with the general population, you know, we who are not presumed schizophrenic or psychotic?
Certain members of the police have always been like this, certainly, but there has been, in the last seven years, a move away from the ability of the average citizen to question the authority. It’s the drumbeat that we need greater security from terrorism that has done it–those cops who are already likely to abuse their authority are given greater leeway to do so, and citizens have fewer avenues of recourse.
As to the question of whether signing the ticket was an admission of guilt, there was an easy solution that the incompetent cop could have taken–tell the driver that signing the ticket isn’t an admission of guilt, if that’s the case. It was obvious that was what the driver was concerned about, and a cop who isn’t out to express his authority in a heavy-handed way would have noted that and calmed the situation.
Exactly. In my mind, what the driver did is really irrelevant. No, he did not follow the ACLU’s guideline for what you are supposed to do, yes, he did things I probably wouldn’t have.
But that doesn’t matter. At every step along the way, rather than attempting to defuse the situation, the cop instead chose to escalate. And then bragged about it and lied about it to a fellow cop. And I still never heard him read the guy his damned rights.
Based on the Youtube hits I fully expect Fox to develop a new reality show called “How the West was Stunned” devoted to real life officers with tasers patrolling God forsaken deserts somewhere behind the Zion Curtain.
While trying to find out about the legal issue in Utah over signing a citation I stumbled across a forum where cops are discussing this video.
I support law enforcment and always address police officers with a polite “yes, sir” or “no, sir”. Where I live signing the ticket only acknowledges that you recieved the citation; it’s not an admission of guilt. Nevertheless, if only from an intuitive perspective I think this cop was looking to provoke something. Again, that’s just the “feeling” I get. He could have diffused the situation at the beginning by politely explaining that signing the ticket is not an admission of anything, and the motorist has the right to argue his case before a judge. Again, from an intuitive standpoint, I think the driver genuinely believed himself innocent. Who doesn’t get his hackles up when accused of something he didn’t do? Did the cop overreact? Maybe. I’m not qualified to speak to police training and procedures. The cop may have been within the limits of acceptable procedure during such an incident. However, judging from the comments I’ve read here and at YouTube public sentiment is running a hundred to one against the cop. If it looks bad, then it IS bad. Perception is everything. This police department does not want this to go before a jury. Expect an out of court settlement on behalf of the motorist.
OniHanzo: Good catch on the cop blocking the sign.
Cops never get punished for escalating these sort of encounters. It doesn’t ever seem to matter how a situation got out of hand, just that the cop kinda sorta maybe thought the civilian might be threatening. I mean, I’m sure he coulda told that dude “I’m writing you a ticket cus your wife’s a lousy lay” and his department would still be backing him up.
I used to defend cops too, but man… not any more. Even in hippy-liberal Portland, there’s been a slew of shootings/beatings/etc, and there’s never any accountability. The city is settling excessive force lawsuits a couple times a year it seems–and yet, the cops involved in those suits go right back onto the street and it some cases *cause more* incidents.
I am in the same boat. I used to defend them all the time. After watching the way they treat students in my town the last 15 years, no more. There are a lot of thugs out there, and our policies need some serious examination.
In addition, and I don’t know if this is just me, but one of the side effects of the jingosphere’s “SUPPORT THE TROOPS” bullshit, in which they claim you are not supporting the troops if you disagree with any Republican policy, has been to turn me off to soldiers and policeman alike. Since 9/11, it is virtually required that we worship cops and firemen and soldiers. The Milbloggers as a group have morphed from a useful resource of military information and experiences to a bunch of worthless fucktards who demand that everyone treat our volunteer Army as saints and saviors. I am sick of it.
Hell, I volunteered. I did my time. What those guys do is brave, but they aren’t any better than anyone else in America, and it wasn’t that way when I was in. I am for treating them with the respect they deserve and paying them fairly and taking care of them when they are injured. I am not going to kneel and kiss their fucking rings and let a bunch of assholes like the BlackFive folks tell me that my political opinion doesn’t count because I am currently not “over there.” The arrogant SOB’s think they are running the civilians.
It is the same thing with cops. You fuckers work for me to enforce laws I helped create when I voted, and I pay your salary. You aren’t my master.
The right wing- ruining every thing they touch.
I’m reminded of Douglas Adams’s statement about being president, and I think in many cases, it applies to cops–anyone who has the desire and the ability to get the job should by no means be allowed to hold the position. Sure, there are the true believers who want to protect and serve, but there are too many who just get off on the power trip, and they’re the last people we, as a society, ought to allow to be in power. Problem is, who else would want the job?
The spiral descent of the stupid continues.
Exactly. And it gets forgotten so often. Police are part of our society, not above or separate from it. And really, if you can not keep the taser in your pants over a speeding ticket or some blind, hard of hearing elderly woman then you need to find a different line of work.
9/11: the bad cop’s best friend. One ray of hope: police abuses are becoming more visible. Ten years ago there would have been no video tape, and no news. Another: the unreliability of eyewitness evidence is now widely accepted. Yet another: the quality of circumstantial evidence (DNA testing and the like) has gotten very good. I believe these will in time make a difference, but it’s sure hard waiting for it.
I am in the same boat. I used to defend them all the time.
I used to know a lot of cops in a mid-sized mid-western city, including some of the guys who made SWAT. When I worked the door at a bar, we had a cop there to help the bouncers take care of things if they got out of hand. Most of the time it was appreciated, because mouthy drunk rednecks at 3 a.m. are the last thing you want to deal with when you’re tired, slightly buzzed, and you just want to go home. Most of the time things were handled professionally. But every once and a while … I’ve seen some pepper sprayings and hair-raising nightstick beatings that, well, just weren’t really called for. This was before tasers came into common use, or I’m sure I would have seen them used too. These incidents tended to happen with the same uniformed guys, and this wasn’t a coincidence.
I don’t know. Perhaps things have gotten more para-military on the cop side of things. Maybe this kind of wrong-headed abuse is more common. It’s been several years since I was around that scene. I can certainly see where tasers and similar weapons would make it easier for officers, especially short-tempered ones, to not even bother to try and de-escalate things. After all, the weapons don’t cause the same type of injury (and evidence) that a good beating with a nightstick does.
Don’t read through the cop forum Konrad linked if you want to retain any modicum of respect for the LEO community whatsoever. Almost to a man they’re falling over themselves to justify the cop’s actions and claim the suspect was resisting arrest. There’s a few good apples in there who are at the very least pointing out that the cop needlessly escalated the situation, but they’re in the minority and are getting shouted down pretty hard.
Of course this is part of a trend. There are three or four stories like this posted every day on reddit. Remember the UCLA library case? That case in Missouri? That guy who got tazered while he was ASLEEP? All those tragedies caused by no-knock warrants carried out at the wrong address?
The drug war, among other things, is turning this country into a police state.
This is the crowd that regularly says things like “if you don’t have anything to hide why do you care about warantless wiretapping”. That whole thing about forgetting history/repeating it and power corrupting?
We’re living it. RIGHT FUCKING NOW
Even “trivial” examples like this police misbehavior prove why we, as a society, spent so much time developing and protecting due process, defense attorneys, evidentiary rules, “innocent until proven guilty”, burden-of-proof, chain of evidence, limited detention, etc.
If watching what’s happened to Padilla (5 years and counting) and the AP photographer Bilal Hussein (19 months and counting) don’t send a chill down your spine, you’re not fucking paying attention.
I used to give cops the benefit of the doubt, and wondered why minorities were so suspicious. No more. I’m not suggesting we go all vigilante or start disobeying the cops, but they’re not doing a good job of policing themselves (Seattle, in particular, has had a rash of cop-related offenses lately) and that erodes everyone’s faith in the justice system – which can destroy civil society if let go too far.
Fwiffo..don’t forget 92 y/o Kathryn Johnston in Atlanta. That case is truly dispcable.
sigh, what a mess.
LEO pulls over vehicle for speeding. And the first thing the driver does is give shit about handing over license and registration. At that point it’s all going downhill.
In some states refusal to sign the citation is a criminal offense. Don’t know if it’s so in Utah, but based on the actions here I’d bet on it.
Now I’m going to agree that up to this instant – where the officer asked the driver to get out of the car – there are several things he could have done differently to defuse. On the other hand, the driver was absolutely unwilling to cooperate. None of us know whether the “it’s just a citation, and you can plead your defense in court” would have worked, but I’m willing to lay money it would NOT have done so — the driver came across as someone who was determined that the officer change his mind. Still, the officer didn’t try. He didn’t try an explanation, he went straight to “no signature? OK, then I have to arrest you” mode.
Up to this point, even with the shithead driver, I’m with you that the officer is not doing his full job. But at this point, I’m going to start defending the officer – even though I don’t think some of you will have the empathy to see both sides of the issue.
You have been dealing with this person who has argued about everything – you had to argue for a while just to get the license and registration, and things haven’t changed. Your state law says that failure to sign the agreement that you will appear in court means you have to be forced to appear in court. (pause – that’s what the citation signature is. It’s essentially your word as bond you’ll appear or otherwise deal with the charge appropriately in the eyes of the law.) You tell him to get out of the car because training says never tell them you’re about to arrest them till it’s harder for them to turn it into a flight.
Then you screw up. Instead of just putting the clipboard down and stepping away, you turn to put it where it will be easy to reach, and glance back a couple of times to see the driver is getting out but isn’t doing anything fast. But your last couple of steps you put the board down without paying attention. And then you turn around, and THERE HE IS. A yard and a half, max, offside toward you doing a distraction move while the main hand is hidden, elbow showing (is he pulling a weapon)?
Another pause. Go watch some use of force training videos. This instant pops up in several – it’s classic. Near enough to act, trying to distract, weapon hidden. This officer probably has seen at least a couple of these, and the reaction is darn near instinctive. Remember the training films, there’s another common variation that’ll matter in a couple of seconds. End of pause…
Pull taser (non-lethal physical force) and start command voice simple command “TURN AROUND AND PUT YOUR HAND BEHIND YOUR BACK”. At this point the adrenaline is pumping. The suspect doesn’t comply. Instead he starts this distracting talk (wtf, basically) as he starts to walk (sideways?) slowly away. You give the command two more times, and then notice he’s fumbling with something in his right front pocket…
return to that pause. The variation – and again, it happens often enough it’s standard training – is where a lot of say-nothing is made and the officer doesn’t see the suspect pull the knife/gun out and gets attack. I’m going to tell you that common wisdom is that a knife-man can stab you from ten feet away before you pull the trigger on the weapon you have aimed. I’ll also tell you, honestly, that I’ve pulled it off in training a few times as the knifehandler – and this is where they’re EXPECTING ME. Only a few times because I’m old and slow. I’ve known some kids who can do it consistently. So we’ve got this training and common wisdom, and we return to the situation….
talking rather aimlessly while fumbling in his pocket, not fully turned away but something of an angle that you’ve seen used in training by “offenders” who are going to get you, and he’s refused to stop after you’ve ordered THREE TIMES…
Was he too fast off the trigger? In hindsight, since the driver didn’t have a weapon, yes. If he’d had a weapon, no. The key point, however, is that IN THIS SLICE OF TIME and WITH WHAT THE OFFICER KNEW AT THE TIME the officer was probably right to pull the trigger. He screwed up letting it get to this point, and needs that hammered into his skull. But he’ll probably not get punished for the actual tasing.
As a separate issue, I’ve problems with tasers (and pepper spray), of which the “some people are way too fast to use it” is a definite portion. It’s a long way from being a simple issue, though – and the more I learn the more I certain I am that any solution will carry its own flaws. The ideal is simple, the application is, well, we’re dealing with people, and simple solutions in the context of people don’t exist. That said, the ideal is that the stuff is used only on those who really need it.
What’s your opinion of what he said to the next officer on the scene?
The Other Steve
NEVER NEVER NEVER ARGUE WITH POLICE.
DO NOT RESIST POLICE ORDERS.
I don’t agree with the tasering, but good God, how fucking stupid do you have to be.
I used to give cops the benefit of the doubt, and wondered why minorities were so suspicious. No more.
Thank you. I used to listen to black people talk about police, and songs like “911 is a Joke” and wonder what they were talking about. Not anymore for me, either, thanks to videos like this one.
The Other Steve
The cop told him to put his hands on the hood. The guy didn’t. He started back for his truck. At that point physical force was prescribed. The guy have been going back to the truck for a gun.
Sorry, John. This ain’t no Rodney King.
And what’s up with claiming he didn’t see the 40 mph sign, but it’s like the first thing you see in the video. It also appears to be placed there for a construction zone, which should have been rather obvious.
The Other Steve
His description was accurate. He didn’t lie.
The Other Steve
four tickets? That’s all? God, you’re a n00b.
I have like around 12 speeding tickets over my career. I know how the system works. You are signing for the sole purpose of acknowledging you received it. That’s it.
Paying the fine is acknowledgement you are guilty, not signing it. Otherwise you go to court and argue.
I’ve also been to court 4 times, so I know how that works as well.
The Other Steve
It was obvious he pulled over because the car was barrelling down on him. Not because he was hiding the sign.
I say this, because immediately after pulling over, the car passes him and he’s off after him. He wasn’t parked by the side of the road in front of the sign.
Also the sign is clearly a temporary one, the type seen in a construction zone, which means there were other markings as well.
Unless you’re all next going to accuse the cop of taking the sign out of his trunk and planting it there. I suppose that’s possible, but I’d have to see evidence to support that claim.
The Other Steve
Ok, finally read Kirk Spencer’s take.
He’s right on.
And I will agree the guy he pulled over seemed to be kind of a jerk. But since when is it on the citizenry to be the professional?
Being a professional law enforcement officer requires more than simply repeating “license and registration” in a “professional” voice and then tasering someone for no reason. The cop had multiple opportunities to defuse the situation, and didn’t. He cose, at every opportunity, to escalate.
And he lied to the second cop. Additionally, the giggling about tasering someone was bullshit. Unless taunting people after they are arrested and your use of potentially deadly “non-lethal” force is part of your “new professionalism.” And why search the vehicle?
The guy may have been a dick, but the cop was the one in the wrong, IMO. And even if he followed the policy to the letter of the law, the policy needs to be changed.
At what point did it become too difficult for cops to explain why they are pulling you over and that signing the ticket is not an admission of guilt? And at what point did it become required for everyone to have your extensive experiences with speeding, speeding laws, and how to act with police in order to keep from being tasered?
“Well, your gonna sign this first. (Condescending sigh). Hop out of the car (dickhead).”
Real professional. And notice how the yelling started and the chaos started AFTER the cop tasered him. Way to maintain control.
Rachel, there… it’s going to be interesting for him in court. The big thing that will matter will be whether he violated procedure. He says two things to the second officer which are different from what happened. Specifically, at what point did he pull the taser, and did he say “or I’ll use the Taser”. You’ve watched the film, you know the contradiction, so the question is “why the contradiction.” Regardless of cause, this is the reason I despise the weight given eyewitness testimony – but that’s a bit of a digression.
No, I need to point out the contradiction to do this better. So… He says the guy started moving around, got warned of the taser, kept moving, told to turn around/stop/put arms back, told again, “enough of that, drew, zap”. We know that it was moving around, drew tazer, told to turn around, kept moving, told again (twice more), zap.
There are three possible reasons for the change in story. Two are (for the officer) innocuous. One is painful for the officer. Let’s do the painful one first as it’s the one almost everyone has jumped in assuming anyway. That is, what he told the other officer is the way it SHOULD have happened ACCORDING TO POLICY. There are two possible places for this. First, he was supposed to order, then draw, order again, and use if necessary. Second, he was supposed to warn of use of tazer before using it. Either or both COULD be policy. Some places require their officers to declare intent to use [specific implement], others do not. If he described according to what policy requires, then he’s screwed twice over and needs hung. Note my second sentence of the earlier post – did he follow procedure. If he didn’t follow procedure, this shows he didn’t and WORSE that he knew what procedure was supposed to be. The UHP will not defend him – he’ll have to cover all the costs of the civil suit himself. And they’ll conduct disciplinary action themselves. If the description was policy and he violated it, he’s going to get most of what he deserves.
Note my weaseling in there. If what he did was against policy, the officer was everything everyone here as said. But there are policies where what he did was RIGHT, in which case it’s regrettable but that’s all — at least it was a tazer and not a gun. Sorry, we’ve got a messed up system not least of which problem is the inconsistency in detail from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Anyway, as I said there are also two innocuous reasons for the difference, and IF it is not a policy violation/cover-up then one of them most likely applies.
First, that’s how he honestly remembered it. Before you scoff, go look at the studies of people involved in something which they are then asked to describe – and how rare it is that any of them get a significant number of details right. I’m going to tell you that when the officer wrote his report he used the tape, so the report will not match what he told the other officer. But between the time he told that officer and he rewound the tape, that’s the story he’d remember. Why? Because that’s the story he burned into memory by telling it. (Again, assuming he wasn’t consciously lying – point one.) But I digress. The point is that if you have people describe a fairly complex series of events of which the critical points occurred over less than a minute, they are not going to accurately recall the sequence.
Second, somewhat halfway between ‘how he remembers’ and ‘willful lying to law enforcement officer’. He told a beer story. A simple, more or less together tale of what happened. “Pulled him over. refused to sign, so started arrest. Bit of song and dance, refused order, kept moving, zap.” The specific order doesn’t matter because the other officer doesn’t matter, he’s just someone who allows a short venting who will understand – a kindred soul. Note that this change also changes it from “I screwed up and ‘OH CRAP HE’S TOO CLOSE’ panic” to a much more controlled and downplayed situation. And let’s face it, most of us don’t like to admit we were part of the problem.
Which is it? I honestly do not know. I suspect – but it is ONLY a suspicion – that’s it’s one of the two latter. Or more accurately, he told a beer story that became his reality till he sees (saw, actually) the tape again. This is driven by two things. First and least is the fact the followup officer is of a different jurisdiction. He’d have no way to know what “the policy” was – not officially (though in practice there’s bleed of knowledge).
But my main reason is the way everything else was handled. Professionally and solid. “Why am I being arrested?” “Because you didn’t do what I told you to do.” Sorry, you don’t usually get formal charges on the street, you get a description of what you did. He didn’t bounce the prisoner. He was polite and controlled with the wife/girlfriend. He… well, it’s a bunch of little details, but basically I’d expect a petty authoritarian to do a little bouncing of the prisoner when the constant demands kept coming.
Oh – to forestall an issue (actually, two). Contrary to what the tv says, you do not have to issue a miranda warning on your arrest. You have to issue it before you question your prisoner. If the prisoner starts talking and you fail to issue the warning, what he says MAY (often WILL BE) disallowed at the eventual trial. It’s generally considered good practice to issue the warning. But it is not required. Second, about that ‘blocking the sign’ bit. Listen to what the driver and the wife/girlfirend say. They knew there were signs, they’d seen them – to include the one in the video. (paraphrase: “I’d have slowed down by the time I got there.”) There was one of three possibilities here: the first sign was of different (higher) speed; the driver misread the sign(s); the driver knew but was trying to legaleze (barracks lawyer, calling on narrow technicalities of both law and situation) himself out of the ticket. Given some of the things I think I heard on the recording I lean toward the third – but I don’t know for sure.
I do. not. know. But I know enough to realize that the condemnation being sent may be, well, wrong. Or it may be not enough. But that pretty much everyone I’ve heard comment – on both sides (having seen this in some idiocies on the other side of the coin) also DO NOT KNOW.
One final thought for consideration. The driver decided he’d put this up in the court of public derision instead of following legal options. There’s a legal cliche for which the third choice is “pound on the table”. Every time I see an attorney – or a plaintiff – surge for the court of public opinion I wonder if that’s what’s happening. This is no exception.
The chaos started when the driver walked up behind the officer.
OK, let’s be smarter about this. Let’s start with the recognition of a background fact. The second most common time officers get shot/stabbed is at traffic pullovers – not just quantity, but proportion. (First is domestic violence response – let’s not go there for now.) And if you split those into, let’s call them “contested” and “uncontested” stops – that is, where the driver is placid and where the driver is disruptive – the disruptive stop gets on the par of trying to intercede when the husband is drunk and the wife’s grabbed a knife from the kitchen.
I do not know the UHP policy, so this is conjecture – reasonable, but conjecture nonetheless. When the idiot behind the wheel started arguing, the situation went to “might be a problem”. The idiot outside the vehicle screwed up by not shifting into calming mode but continued with “another day in lala land” mode. The idiot outside compounded the error when he assumed (yep, we know what that word means) the driver would exit the vehicle and STAY THERE. It turned into chaos when the driver followed the officer – and I have very little doubt the driver wasn’t going to do anything, but the fact is he pushed the officer into a panic. controlled panic, but panic. And the officer went straight down the line for training at that instant – probably, that is, see my remarks to Rachel for more on that.
The officer lost control by failing to control the offender at point of exit. His cause of loss of control was not adapting to the fact he had an uncooperative perpetrator facing him, and continuing as though he had a cooperative stop.
I feel like I’m repeating some things I used to say to you when you were hard right, but I’ll do it anyway. If you do not pay attention to the mindset of everyone involved – if you are blindly assuming everyone knew what you know, and you know all – then however righteously upset you are with the event you are being an ignorant puppet in someone’s hands. Convict, then trial…. wrong.
Let me point out what I pointed out at the end of the response to Rachel. Who posted the video? Why – why isn’t he pursuing legal and administrative action? And while we’re at it… don’t you wonder what was in the parts that got cut? Or did you miss those edits – in the copy of the video posted by the guy trying to get this into the court of public trial.
Things went south the moment the cop stepped out of the car with his attitude. Not once did he try to explain what was going on, not once did he say “this is not an admission of guilt,” etc.
You say the cop resorted to training- the training does not include trying to avoid tasering people or trying to defuse the situation, but seems real solid on how to use the taser. Even if the officer followed policy to the letter of the law, things need to be changed.
Additionally, the cop told him to get out of the car. Not get out of the car and put your hands on the hood. The guy got out of the car, followed him (a normal response), and started pointing at the sign. The cop then wheeled around, started yelling, and immediately pulled the taser.
The cop lied to his fellow officer. The guy did what he said, and a split second later the cop was yelling at him and pointing a taser at him.
One last thing, since apparently there are some who will excuse anythign cops do because ZOMG THEIR JOB IS DANGEROUS, and thus, the civilians have to be the ones who remain cool, calm, and professional, how bout we provide some people with some training? When people get their license, spend fifteen minutes explaining how they should behave and what they are supposed to do and required to do, rather than glibly linking the ACLU’s checklist and claiming it is common knowledge.
Clearly we can’t count on police being calm professionals. Let’s try to train the civilians to pick up the slack.
The Other Steve
He seems rather friendly when he approaches the car. asking “Hey, hows it going?”
From what I see, this guy is maybe a bit of a rookie. This stop didn’t go exactly per the book, as Kirk noted, he seemed to be taken aback by this guys attitude.
Kirk is right that he should have had the guy under control when he stepped out of the car. Once I was taken back to a car before, but that’s because it was winter and really cold, and the officer had me in the front seat. The officer followed me, not the other way around.
The situation got out of control, when the officer ordered the guy to turn around, put his hands over his head, and he acted like a dick. Walking back to his car, fumbling in his pocket for something, etc. He very much appeared as though he had a weapon, so I can understand the cops actions at that point.
I don’t agree necessarily with the taser. I don’t know the SOP for that. He could have tried to physically restrain him, although I think there was some danger there of the guy resisting and pulling them both out into the traffic. That’s a hard call.
I guess my point, from what I see here. We have a situation where an officer should be reprimanded and given further instruction on traffic stops and keeping the situation in control.
But this ain’t no Rodney King.
One of the guys I work with was stopped just a few months ago by a cop. He was coming around the corner on the street just outside the officer. The officer in that case stopped him, with his gun drawn, screaming at him to get out of the car. He got out of the car, the officer threw him on the pavement and handcuffed him.
The officer said he saw him give him a nasty look and then flooring it to get away, and accused him of running drugs or guns or something.
Other officers arrived, and the police chief. The chief talked to both involved, examined the situation, and let the guy go with an apology. The officer was suspended.
Apparently the officer who had stopped him had just gotten back from Iraq about a month previous.
Why does everyone keep mentioning Rodney King? Is that the measuring stick. Rodney King = bad, everything else = acceptable?
Does that mean we can’t criticize future administrations until they are as bad as this one? Or are you all just adopting Bush’s soft bigotry of low expectations for cops.
The Other Steve
This situation isn’t as you are describing it. It’s as simple as that.
I’m not one to excuse cops for anything. I’m generally the first to point out when they’re way out of line. So that’s kind of bs.
It is right there on video. What is there to dispute? The cop said get out of the car. the guy did and followed him, pointing at a speed limit sign (apparently a hostile action). The cop wheeled around, yelled at him, reached for his taser a second later as he was yelling at him again, the guy looked at him and asked him what the fuck is wrong with you, and got tasered.
Personally, I am asking the same question. WTF is wrong with the cop? Why couldn’t he tell him he was speeding and how fast he was going over the limit. Why couldn’t he say “Signing this is not an admission of guilt, but I have to arrest you if you do not?” Instead, it was just shitty attitude.
And some of you are pretending that it is up to the driver to know how to behave in this situation.
I’m sorry, but the idea that he was going for a weapon is pretty far-fetched.
I’m sympathetic to the cop’s position. I’m sure it is a dangerous job. But that’s all the more reason to have it performed by competent, professional people, who’re able to defuse tense situations instead of escalating them. And too often, that’s not the case. We’ve given the police this really absurd leeway with regard to use of force, basically saying it’s justified if, in the moment of the decision, the officer maybe feels like they’re in danger. Consideration is rarely given to the mistakes that may have been made before then. So we end up excusing the use of force, even when the officer roundly fucked up everything before that (for example, the no-knock raids on wrong addresses Balko has documented, this officer turning his back on the guy after ordering him out of the car, etc).
Basically, if you’re a cop, and you fuck up and put yourself in danger, you’re given a free pass to kill people.
I should add, the lovely double-standard, of course, is that if you’re a civilian and put yourself in danger, the cop is still given a free pass to kill you.
John's Minion's Mothers
Lovely, there’s that mentality again, “the cop just got back from Iraq” Oh, well, that makes it alright, he’s a just a little jumpy. Support the Troops!
If he’s got psychological issues then he shouldn’t be carrying a weapon, end of story, if he doesn’t, then you’re just dragging us off topic.
We’re sorry, but cops are paid, and not very well, admittedly, to be put in danger, so? That’s their job. Citizens are not. For god’s sake, if you think some 20-something kid with a pregnant wife acting twitchy on the side of the highway justifies pulling a weapon, then you must not get out very much. you’d see wierder than that on the Subway every day.
The Ten-thousand dollar question is, how do you reverse the decline towards police-state if you think we’re starting down it?
Jesus, seems you tube is showing some of us one video, and the rest another. I’m with John here. This guy was obviously a threat to no one. I get the feeling watching this that the officer just got himself a brand new taser and was looking for a reason to test it out. The whole thing should have been a totally manageable situation for even the dumbest of dumb-asses. I can’t believe that this is the first time that someone has refused to sign a ticket. I didn’t even think that the guy in the suv was being that big of a dick. Some of the nerdier elements at my work get more heated arguing over Princess Leia’s cup size. The cop was being an ass.
As far as I know here in the lovely state of Utah, a traffic citation is not a misdemeanor.
One last item, my step father is a cop here in Salt Lake, and he was not real impressed with the officers conduct. I bring this up because being a cop he has had a person or two not sign the damn ticket. He explains to them that it is not an admission of guilt and that they are still required to pay the ticket or show up for court or a warrant will be issued. Situation handled, no taser needed.
UnkyT? In Utah, all speeding violations are class C misdemeanors. Just pointing out that if you’re wrong (demonstrably – warning, 5 page pdf, the specific statement is at the top of page 2) there, you might be in error in the rest.
John, I’m going to leave you two points to ponder. 1 – you’re making a diagnosis from an EDITED tape. 2 – you haven’t heard or seen the statement from the other side. I can think of how it’s not like Schiavo, but there’s more than a touch of similarity. Note – one more time – that this guy may be wrong. But training and experience tells me it’s not as cut and dry as everyone who is reading the mind of the officer says.
What’s up with the footnote in that PDF? I don’t know law-speak, and it doesn’t read clearly to me, but seems to indicate that they are reclassified as infractions.
I’m given to understand that there are kids in some foreign countries who, when arrested, have seen too much American TV, and demand to be read their rights, not understanding that these are American legal customs and not necessarily present everywhere in the world.
Somebody oughta tell those kids to pipe down ‘cos we don’t have that stuff either, only on TV shows. ;)
Excellent comments, Kirk. Very helpful to trying to understand the oher side of this situation.
I’ll say this about the “reaching for a weapon/pocket” excuse though. it’s bullshit. If that ever went throough the cop’s mind I’m pretty sure we would have seen/heard evidence of it on the tape. Either at the moment, or after the fact when the suspect asks what caused the tasing, and especially when he desribes the incident to the other cop—”I thought he was going for a weapon…”
This comes off as Monday Morning Quarterbacking/film review to me. I watched it twice before reading the comments and I thought he acted strangely but never noticed anything threatening.
Does anybody else think the cop leaves this guy sticking out into traffic too long?
This tasing shit has gotten me all fired up, I’ve collected some links, and plan to do a post, but I’m too fucking tired to do it now…
Good night everyone.
And I’m in Vermont, home of Ben & Jerrys and a Socialist senator and we STILL have cops using deadly force. There was a situation in Brattleboro where a disturbed man armed with a knive was seeking sanctuary in a church, and was cornered and shot to death by police- and we’ve apparently had some nonviolent protesters tasered, as well.
This is Vermont- in that case the protesters (who’d chained themselves to a barrel, trespassing on some land that was being developed) say they were warned they would be tasered if they didn’t give up.
Also, one of our police is suing a group of law enforcement officials in Ohio as a private citizen for excessive use of force involving his 20-year-old son, which included the use of a Taser. “They almost killed my son”, he says. I have to wonder if a cop has any better hope of prevailing in this sort of thing.
In New Hampshire they say they’re issuing cops Tasers to try and cut down on workmen’s compensation claims for cops injured in the line of duty.
I guess we could just SHOOT ALL THE PEOPLE and then the cops would be PERFECTLY SAFE :D
Gardner: “Oh yeah, Nice, he was completely in charge.”
How can anyone listen to the cop to cop exchange and not understand exactly what happened here?
The cop was angry at the driver for not being sufficiently submissive and deferential, so he used a weapon on him. Simple.
Let that be a lesson to all of you little people.*
*”You know the score, pal. If you’re not cop, you’re little people!” – Blade Runner
Hey, what I find amusing is at noon on the Kojo show on NPR, they had a discussion about Tasers, police use of tasers, and other non-lethal weaponry.
Question for those defending the cop’s actions here. Had he, instead of tasering the driver, taken out a night stick / billy club and beat him until he was incapacitated, be similarly okay with the cop’s actions? Because with the range of a taser, that’s really the substitute.
A friend’s wife is a sheriff of a local county. I get first hand all the horror stories from both sides of what cops do and have done to them. My personal judgment? The cop wasn’t looking for a fight, but he sure wasn’t going to back down from the one presented to him.
Where do YOU live? Where I live, cops make $100K after 10 years on the job, then can retire after 20 years with full — and very dreamy — benefits. I wouldn’t want to be a cop, but I would not call them underpaid, by any means.
…and giving him a “ride on the tazer” seems to be treated like giving a kid a slap on the butt…
Kirk, you make some good points on training and reaction to events as they unfold but it seems to me a key quality for police officers is to understand the benefits of diplomacy and this officer seems to be learning the downsides off not being diplomatic the hard way. So too, it seems, has Mr. Bush (and by extension many of us) been getting some education on the merits of diplomacy.
The Other Steve
Good god, he did. The guy started fucking arguing with him, saying there was no 40mph speed limit sign. Watch the video again and turn up the sound so you can hear the exchange.
The guy in the car IMMEDIATELY started arguing with him, even though the cop was friendly when he first approached. The guy in the car didn’t even care what the cop had to say, he wasn’t listening and instead he was trying to control the situation in a threatening manner.
Christ, this is like that Kerry taser video. You fuckheads are trying to make it into another Ruby Ridge, without knowing everything that went on. And it really pisses me off that you are accusing the cop of lying, when it is quite clear that he did not.
Yes, the cop was guilty of not controlling the situation and allowing it to escalate. But this ain’t Rodney King, and this ain’t no Ruby Ridge. And the Jack-booted thug comment just shows you a major league FUCK HEAD.
A.) My only comment really on the Kerry taser event was to call Michael Goldfarb an asshole.
B.) Re-read this thread. The only people referencing Ruby Ridge or Rodney King are the folks on YOUR side of the argument.
C.) If you admit the cop was guilty of not controlling the situation, what exactly are you arguing? The cop losing control of the situation and escalating it to an unnecessary tasering is PRECISELY what I am arguing.
This cop was a prick, but not on the scale of Rodney King or Ruby Ridge, and I think most everybody can see that. I just hope that whoever is in charge of dealing with him knows him well enough to determine whether this is just a one time fuck up or not and to treat it appropriately. Granted, the most serious fuck up I could have in my current profession could not involve a taser. In a previous job however I did staple my brothers pants to his ass with a 5/8″pneumatic stapler. He was armed and dangerous with a tube full of construction adhesive, so I had to get the situation under control. I may have chuckled a little. He promptly called me a prick.
Why does everyone keep mentioning Rodney King? Is that the measuring stick. Rodney King = bad, everything else = acceptable?
No, John, Rodney King = acceptable. Those officers were acquitted. They always are.
They were convicted on Fed civil rights charges. By the way, I don’t think it is fair to bring new charges once someone is acquitted. It’s double jeopardy.
No, not at all. That student was an asshole provocateur and did everything possible to get arresed and tasered. I still think the tasering was unnecessary—he was controlled, subdued and completely overpowered/outnumbered by the time they shocked him, and he was warned repeatedly and clearly—but he was belligerent, much more resistant and/or a possible threat/flight risk.
This Utah driver was not exactly conciliatory to the cop, but in no way I can tell was threatening, attempting to flee, nor was he warned verbally by the cop.
That situation went from “Hop out of the car…” to face down on the asphalt with 50,000 volts coursing through the civilian in about ten seconds.
John’s right. The cop is the professional, supposed to be in control of rthe situation, while the driver does not know what the hell is even going on…
The argument that he’s got his hand in his pocket is bull. He gets out of the car with something in his hand, apparently his wallet, since he just turned over his license. As he moves back he’s shoving the wallet into his front pocket, and his hand is still there as the cop Tasers him. He didn’t reach into his pocket in any sort of threatening manner.
My mistake, I have had traffic violations and misdemeanors in my life time, and I could always tell the difference by how many nights I spent in jail.
I am guessing the guy in the suv was also unaware of this. The point being that in educating the driver that it is a misdemeanor, ‘Get out of the vehicle’ -> ‘Put your hands behind your back’ -> ‘Get Tased!’ is a sufficient response, it is not an appropriate one.
John – I may have stepped hard. I apologize. I’m trying to point out that this isn’t really that cut and dried – that while the cop did make mistakes it’s nowhere near the blatant abuse it’s being made out to be. (Oh, god, did I just use the “mistakes were made” statement? Pardon – I need some caffeine…) OK, try again. I know a number of officers who could probably have gotten the whole thing done without touching the taser. I also have seen what an authoritarian at a traffic stop is like. This guy isn’t there. And, based SOLELY on what I saw, not on all the other stuff none of us have to hand, he wasn’t wrong – or at least, wasn’t wrong enough to suffer the condemnation he’s getting. Note that solely, because this bothers me a lot. We’re all trying to diagnose a situation from ONE piece of evidence (out of several that should be there), which is as stupid as diagnosing medical or mechanical or computer or, well, at this point it should be obvious.
FWIW, there is a problem with tasers. Actually, there are two.
The direct problem with the taser is that it was sold as – and in reality IS – a non-lethal, non-permanent-injury incapacitation device. A stunner, to use the SF term. There’s some discussion in a few SF circles and stories of the problem with this – First, that with such a weapon the easy answer is “shoot first, ask later”, because they’ll BE THERE to ask later. Oh, and second, that it’s not exactly a powerful visual statement weapon because, well, “so, I get shot, and I’m still around later with no problems.” Unless you’ve been hit with one you have no idea of the pain, and it carries none of the hind-brain burden given a gun, knife, or club.
This ‘low threat’ (in all the ways mentioned) coincides with another problem which is (in my eyes) even more significant. The job of policeman attracts authoritarians, and a lot get through despite screening. And once they’re in, they are pretty constantly under mental siege, encouraging a ‘battlefield buddy bonding’ behavior – the cliche’d “thin blue wall”. (Yea, he’s a jerk, but those people don’t understand, and it’s now us against them.) That bit of joking on the tape, for example… ask a combat vet or emergency room workers or firefighters or ANY long-duration high-stress job survivor about their ‘dark jokes’. If they trust you, you’ll be, well, it’ll depend on your mindset, but I guarantee even if you’re laughing you’ll still recognize that most of the jokes are SICK. (Actually come to think of it, I’m not sure that much stress is required. I spent some time in a bar, once, that was near a mortician’s convention. It’s probably just innate human behavior to try and turn darkness into laughter just so we can get to tomorrow.)
The point of this second line is that when you combine something that hurts (a lot) but is rated as such a low threat it’s PREFERABLE to pepper spray or any other such material WITH these bullies that slip into the system WITH the system that “knows” people don’t understand and overreact… you get a nasty mess. The cops who are trying and just need polished are lumped with the monsters in the eyes of the public, reinforcing the siege, and allowing the monsters to further contaminate the pool. And THAT, to me, is a major problem that’s been known for at least a century and which we’re actually, sorta, kinda, finally getting resolved.
Except when a nation’s leaders start playing stupid games with “what is torture”. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
I’m going to give one example of a method that’s helping. SOME agencies – not all, but some – have a very special authorization process for being certified with tasers, pepper spray, and other similar low-threat non-lethals. They have to receive. For the three years I worked in a prison (and I was just a librarian, not an officer), I had my annual experience with both pepper spray and taser so I could carry them to use if necessary. (Never used them, thanks.) I can tell you that there are still problems even where this is done, but it is a start. I know that effort is being made in some places to further erode this problem.
But it won’t go away. Not least because it’s a person problem, and to such a problem the only answers that are easy are wrong.
All that said, I am thankful the officers get tasers now. Simple stats, ladies and gentlemen. Over the time tasers have been in use, shootings and beatings (as a proportion of all arrests) have dropped massively, with corresponding drop in deaths and injuries. Keep nibbling at the bad uses and users, yes, but I never, ever want to see them taken from the hands of the police. Because when it’s all said and done, I’d rather the cop mistakenly shoot the 15 year old he thought was armed using his taser instead of his pistol.
Svensker, show me. Show me where a cop can make $100,000 per year salary after only ten years on the force. I’m going to ask about the “full and dreamy benefits after 20 years”, but I have a suspicion your definition of “full” and “dreamy” aren’t as high as mine – and I’m only a librarian. See, I know a lot of civil service jobs at which retirement after 20 years is possible – provided you’re at least 50 or 55 at time of retirement, and provided you’re willing to take less than you’d get after 25, 30, or more years. So when you say “full”, I assume you’re meaning “as much as they’d get after 30.” But if you just mean “regular check and medical insurance”, well, yes, there are a lot of civil service jobs that will provide that, not just police.
Kirk- there is no reason to apologize. In fact, we don’t do that very often around here.
At any rate, I understand it is not cut and dried, and would agree with you. personally, when I get pulled over, I pull the keys out of the ignition, put my hazards on, keep my hands on the wheel, and sign whatever. My logic is getting the fuck away from cops maximizes my chances of bad shit not happening.
But that is me. My problem is that even if the driver was a dick, there was no need to taser him, and that the tasering happened because the officer lost control and made no attempt that I could see to defuse the situation (The Other Steve disagrees).
The larger point, outside this single event, is that what I see overall in this country is an ov3erall escalation in what I consider heavy-handed tactics. People are arguing nonsense like “Would you rather he be hit with a billy club than tasered?”
Are those really my options? A guy that poses no threat can only be handled with a billy club and/or a taser? And it is justified because “cops have dangerous jobs” or he had 4 fingers in his tight jeans and might have been concealing a gun?
I don’t like where this country is going. I don’t like what I see as an authoritarian tilt. I don’t like that officers are trained to not answer questions, to lose control of the situation, but everything is ok because you can taser at will.
I agree with you- I would prefer someone being tasered after being shot. But what I see happening is that people are under the impression that tasering is safe and harmles, so it can be used on a whim. Hell, it seems like it isthe preferred course of action anymore. Do you honestly think the student at the Kerry rally would have been shot had there been no tasers? No. they would have found a different way to handle the situation.
Same for this situation.
From the Salt Lake Tribune
Personally, I did not see anything about this guy that would be threatening to anybody.
About the cop losing control of the situation, maybe someone more familiar with police procedures can fill me in: Under what general circumstances does a police officer ask a driver to get out of his car during a traffic stop? It’s never happened to me. In fact, occasionally a police officer has told me not to get out of the car, presumably in the interests of keeping the situation under control. Is what this officer did standard behavior (that is, before the tasering)?
I would guess that it was because he was refusing to sign the citation and the next step would be to take him into custody though why a cop would want to take a guy into custody instead of explaining the benefits of him signing is beyond me.
In that case, he should simply have taken him into custody. No muss, no fuss, no misinterpretation of his reaching into his pocket while the officer walks away from him back to the squad car, etc.
John, yeah, I agree with you about the trend. I disagree that this incident is representative of the trend, but I’ve burned enough electrons on that.
Konrad, yep, you’re right. As to why… it’s a gut test, sometimes you tell them if they don’t you have to arrest them, sometimes you don’t. The normal rule in the places I’ve been is you don’t tell them. Simple reason – difficulty of apprehension. If the person decides to flee, would you rather they were behind the wheel and a lockable door, or on their feet beside you? If the person decides to resist, which location is easier to deal with? You see the point, I think.
UnkyT, it’s a point of view. From the video’s point of view, where we see both actors moving, it appears there’s no real threat. From the point of view of the officer, he glances and the guy’s 3 or 4 yards away, glance two he’s RIGHT BEHIND ME WITH AN UPRAISED ARM OH CRAP. From the point of view of the driver, “I’m just following the officer so I can show him the sign.”
Now, I can think of several training points needing addressed which boil down to “don’t lose situational awareness” – and had the officer done them he wouldn’t have PERCEIVED a threat. But he did, and I can walk through the steps to see why he did. History and fiction are replete with cases where someone thought something that wasn’t so, and the consequences range from hilarious to disastrous. But every time we judge on what WE KNOW NOW instead of what THEY KNEW THEN, we’re wrong – we’re not looking to fix the problem, we’re looking for revenge.
That you can’t see the threat – ok. I believe you. I can. I don’t think the threat was there, but I see where he believed the threat to be there. It’s probably a good thing neither of us are on the jury or the review board.
Kirk, you are really doing a good job explaining the situation here as you imagine it going through the cop’s head. I actually completely understand what you are sayin, abd understand what you think the cop was thinking…
The problem is, to me, that the taser is being used in place of a raised voice instead of a raised handgun. And by that I mean not as a last resort before deadly force but as the first tool when things are going swimmingly. This situation is an example of the slightest thing going awry with the encounter and immediately the cop is basting away with his taser.
in other cases I’ll reference later (i’m not on my computer and don’t have the links handy) the taser is used wat too soon (IMHO) or often after suspects are already cuffed—in situations ranging from merely uncooperative to unresponsive…on drunk women outweighed by the arresting officer by a good 100 pounds… on the biking equivelent of jaywalkers…
It’s fucking out of hand.
This was a dad driving down the highway with his pregnant wife and kids and he thinks he’s pulled over for a simple speeding enterig a construction zone violation and seems clearly unaware of wat is transpiring. The cop did a horrendous job handling this situation from start to finish. and thus resorted to force waaay too quickly.
So how fast was the civilian going? I didn’t ever catch it in the video if the cop ever told him. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request at all.
And how did the cop determine how fast the driver was going?
As for the cop having to be extra careful, yada, yada…he escalated the thing by telling the driver to get out of the car. He could have tossed it in the drivers lap or slapped it on his windshield. I have tried to see it the way Kirk is and I can’t.
Jesus. Typing one-handed and hurredly with a baby in one’s lap makes for some ugly posting mistakes…
And another thing…was the driver busted for speeding before or after the 40 mile sign? Because the cop pulled over and went after the driver the second he went past the 40 mile sign…he to my mind actually pulled over so he could get the driver in front of him.
This wasn’t some distance from the sign, but exactly at that point. Where, again, the cop pulled over to let the guy pass…briefly..and then went right for him.
Is that why he couldn’t tell the guy how fast he was going?
Could be worse:
Since that happened in 2003, what was the result?
Didn’t hear anything more. It’d be interesting to find out, eh?
Okay. I wrote my post. Most of it rehashes the incident already discussed here, but my conclusion is as follows and includes some links to other taser incidents, some justifiable, but more importatly—some even worse than this one…
More info on the Utah incident:
According to the Utah Highway Patrol, “In the event that a motorist refuses to sign a trooper has two options. One is to write “refuses to sign” on the citation, which is then given to the driver. The second is to arrest the driver.”
CNN interview with the motorist, and a UHP representative.
It’s hard to tell in the video but according to this story Massey is tased a second time for not rolling over fast enough.
It’s probably also worth noting that Utah is one of the states that has yet to outlaw ticket quotas.
Justifiable [IMO] tasering.
This 340-lb mountain is a clear physical threat and uncooperative. Though they do not warn him…
This is just a real life copy of the first season of 24 hour 3:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.
Life. Art. Imitation.
I know you guys instinctively hate “pigs” but it’s clear to anyone with eyes that the police officer was arguing in good faith. Either respect authority and comply or you’re going down. That’s just the way it goes. Don’t like it? Move.
Fuck that. The country you’re talking about lost World War II. Or, lost the Cold War.
That cop lied. He told his colleague that he had warned the guy that he would taser him. There was not such a warning.
I had a run-in with the Utah police back in the seventies. In the middle of the night I was pulled over on some deserted highway, no other traffic at all, for some made-up reason. I had an old car, a Morris, that was certainly not going over the speed limit. It was probably because I had an out-of-state license plate and was an easy target.
The cop took me to some god-forsaken hick town, rang the bell of some hick judge and the judge fined me 50 dollars or so on the spot. I paid to be on my way. Thankfully there were no tasers at the time.
This cop is a pig, but he probably isn’t an exception.