Taser first, ask questions later

Tasers were originally introduced for police use as an alternative to using lethal force; the hope was that, in many situations where cops might otherwise feel forced to go for their guns, they might be able to use the taser instead, to immobilize a person who posed a threat to them or to others, without killing anybody in the process.

In practice, of course, cops and police culture being what they are, any notion of limiting tasers to those situations very quickly went out the window. Cops armed with tasers now freely use them to end arguments by intimidation or actual violence, to coerce people who pose no real threat to anyone into complying with their bellowed orders, and to hurt uppity civilians who dare to give them lip. They often do so even when the supposed offense that they’re responding to is completely trivial; they often start tasering, or keep on tasering, after their victims have already been rendered helpless by the circumstances or by an earlier use of force. Since any complaints of excessive force are always handled by their fellow cops, the investigations almost always end up concluding that Official Procedures were followed, as if that made everything O.K., and throwing the complaint into the rubbish bin without doing anything at all. So shock-happy Peace Officers can now go around using their tasers as 50,000-volt human prods in just about any situation, with more or less complete impunity.

For example, here is how a gang of cops in Ozark, Alabama, handled the situation when they found an unconscious man slumped over behind the wheel of his car.

Police in Ozark, Alabama on Tuesday used a taser on a sober man who was having a diabetic seizure. A trio of police cruisers were called to the scene of a black Nissan truck and trailer pulled over on the side of the road near the intersection of Highway 231 and Marley Mill Road at around 4pm. James Bludsworth, 54, a man with no criminal record, was was slumped over behind the wheel. Because of his condition he was not responsive to police commands.

Police then fired tasers at the sick man three times. A police officer now says that he smelled alcohol on Bludsworth, even though later testing showed no trace of alcohol in his system. Ozark Police Chief Myron Williams also claims the sick man was “combative.” Instead of taking Bludsworth to medical care he was booked at Dale County Jail and charged with resisting arrest and driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Bludsworth has no recollection of the incident and is free on $1000 bond.

— theNewspaper.com (2007-11-09): Alabama: Sober Diabetic Man Tasered, Accused of DUI

Here is how their boss is holding these cops accountable for their needless use of force against an innocent man with a serious medical condition:

[Ozark Deputy Police Chief Myron] Williams said at least three officers responded to the scene. He defended the department’s decision not to discipline any of the officers involved based on video and audio evidence of the incident.

— Ebony Horton, The Dothan Eagle (2007-11-09): Criminal charges remain against driver found unconscious

(Story via Lew Rockwell @ LewRockwell.com Blog 2007-11-09.)

Further reading:

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6 replies to Taser first, ask questions later Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2007-11-17 – Taser first, ask questions at the autopsy.:

    […] is what I said a few days ago about the widespread use of tasers by American cops, in response to a recent case in […]

· December 2007 ·

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2007-12-01 – What a shock.:

    […] supposedly benefiting from a care check, or if you are sound asleep in your own home, or if you are unable to move due to a medical condition, or if the cops attack you within 25 seconds of entering the room, while you are standing quietly […]

  2. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2007-12-07 – Law and Orders #4: Wichita cops take control by shocking a deaf man for not following orders he couldn’t hear:

    […] supposedly benefiting from a care check, or if you are sound asleep in your own home, or if you are unable to move due to a medical condition. It hardly even matters if you die. What a cop can always count on is that, no matter how […]

— 2008 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2008-05-10 – Cops are here to protect you. (#3):

    […] cannot obey their commands because you are sound asleep in your own home. It hardly matters if you can’t move due to a medical condition, or can’t hear their bellowed orders because you’re deaf. It hardly even matters if you […]

— 2012 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People's Daily 2012-08-08 – Cops are here to help you: Tacoma, Washington police Officer Ryan Koskovich and Officer Michael Young taser, handcuff and imprison a deaf assault victim for not obeying commands that she could not hear.:

    […] Wichita cops take control by shocking a deaf man for not following orders he couldn’t hear, GT 2007-11-11: Taser first, ask questions later, AP 2005-03-22: Autistic Teenager is Beaten by Deputies After Being Mistaken for a Prowler, GT […]

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