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June 3, 2005 10:07 PM   Subscribe

Gestapo traffic stop. In the world's most powerful country, even the faintest shadow is a dangerous precipice. Enter South Florida's finest.
posted by a thousand writers drunk at the keyboard (387 comments total)

 
Speeding?
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:13 PM on June 3, 2005


The bit that got to me is.. when the officer after using the tazer tells her to move "I cant" she wails, so he has justifable reason to tazer her again....
posted by hortense at 10:16 PM on June 3, 2005


Welcome to scAmerica.
posted by rougy at 10:17 PM on June 3, 2005


er.. justifyable
posted by hortense at 10:18 PM on June 3, 2005


I guess I'll go first. She got stopped for speeding, he checked on her liscence, and found out that her liscence was suspended. He asked her to get out of the car, because he needed to arrest her. She refused.

What should he have done to get her out of the car?
posted by 23skidoo at 10:22 PM on June 3, 2005


fucking pigs.
posted by keswick at 10:22 PM on June 3, 2005


23 skidoo asks a good question.
posted by H. Roark at 10:24 PM on June 3, 2005


Interesting that you chose to link to the original arrest footage. Make sure to watch with the officer's commentary as well. She had been pulled over and arguing with the officer for a few minutes before it was discovered that she was driving with a suspended license. She was ordered out of her car so she could be arrested, and she resisted. Maybe he showed excessive force by zapping her a second time, but it's not as bad as even I thought it was the first time I watched it.
posted by Venadium at 10:29 PM on June 3, 2005


They told her to get out the car, she kept yapping on the phone. They pointed a Taser at her, she kept yapping on the phone.

Its harsh, but she walked right into it with her eyes wide open.

Should it have happened? No, its horrible. But she is as dumb as a fucking brick.
posted by BadSeamus at 10:29 PM on June 3, 2005


"What should he have done to get her out of the car?" Tasers kill people.
They should be used as a last resort. As I said over on MoFI "If you can't do your job without violently attacking a person who is being an asshole then you are defective and should be replaced. I know that I would have little patience with people like the woman in the video so early on I ruled out cop as a career." This is just bad police work.
posted by arse_hat at 10:32 PM on June 3, 2005


I wasn't being rhetorical. Seriously, what should he have done to get her out of the car?
posted by 23skidoo at 10:36 PM on June 3, 2005


keswick: fucking pigs

I'll second that in this case
posted by nervousfritz at 10:37 PM on June 3, 2005


What should he have done to get her out of the car?

Gee, I have no idea. It sure is good officers can pack 50Kv now, since before there was absolutely no way to arrest anyone who refused to get out of their already-opened car door.

There is no possible way you're being serious asking that kind of dumbass question.
posted by odinsdream at 10:38 PM on June 3, 2005


Talking, physical force. I really think dragging her from the car would be less likely to pose a risk of death than the taser. Doing it twice is just sadism.
posted by arse_hat at 10:40 PM on June 3, 2005


I didn't see any "resistance".

Non compliance, maybe, but resistance worthy of tazer, no.
posted by Balisong at 10:40 PM on June 3, 2005


23skidoo: My answer is that he should have informed her that he was placing her under arrest. At that point, resistance would be, well, "Resisting Arrest", and the tazing would be at least vaguely justifiable. As it was, he just starts yelling threats at her, caused her to cling more tightly to her only lifeline: a cellphone to a remote "witness". She posed no real threat to anything but the cop's ego.

I've been discussing this in a few other forums, and there's some question as to whether being pulled over constitutes automatically being "under arrest" and whether you're required to comply with any lawful request. Any lawyers in the house?

Also, be sure to watch all the videos. For sure, the woman is a real bitch to the cop, but I still think he was way outta line.
posted by LordSludge at 10:47 PM on June 3, 2005


"What should he have done to get her out of the car?" Tasers kill people.

Um, well don't ignore the man telling you repeatedly that he is about to taser you if you don't get out of the car. Pretty straight fucking forward.

Gee, I have no idea. It sure is good officers can pack 50Kv now, since before there was absolutely no way to arrest anyone who refused to get out of their already-opened car door.

posted by odinsdream at 10:38 PM PST on June 3 [!]


Yeah, and cops love wrestling dudes out of cars...
posted by jikel_morten at 10:49 PM on June 3, 2005


There is no possible way you're being serious asking that kind of dumbass question.

It's not a dumbass question, it's a question designed to get people to talk, instead of grunt snarky one-liners about how cops are evil. Again, I will say that the question was not rhetorical. I was not implying that there were no other alternatives. I was asking people to supply an alternative that they would have used in that situation.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:50 PM on June 3, 2005


I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to be so outraged about.
posted by Bugbread at 10:50 PM on June 3, 2005


The only serious problem I have is with the second use of the tazer.

I know I'm not a police officer so I could be missing something... but a woman, lying on the ground in pain does not appear like such an imminent threat that a taser is neccessary.

It really seems to me like he uses it as a punitive measure, rather than as a defensive measure.
posted by mosch at 10:52 PM on June 3, 2005


eh, she didn't deserve that, and she didn't deserve to have the gun pointed at her either.

she never did anything to endanger that officer or make him feel unsafe.

innocent until proven guilty and all that.
posted by reflection at 10:55 PM on June 3, 2005


Now how did I know, in the midst of her squalling, that she was going to holler, "You all are RACISTS."

Having said that, I would never advocate tasering someone twice like that, jeez. I've gotten shocked once or twice from working around electrical stuff (IT and Telco) but at nowhere near the voltage a Taser puts out. It felt like my whole body had been punched, so I imagine when she was on the ground after the 1st taser hit, she was pretty much out of it.

This is a good description of the effects of electric shock on the body.

I wonder if she really did "take a swing" at one of the officers as he was telling her to get out of the car - I can't tell from the video.
posted by Liosliath at 10:56 PM on June 3, 2005


Call me a hardass, but in the old days, they would've shot her.

You're a traffic cop, working for shit pay, you're gonna reach in there and try to force her out? Not knowing what she might do in response to hurt you? Or is it more reasonable to tell the woman 10 times, loudly and clearly (she's obviously not deaf), to get out of the car or she'll get stunned? If I was a cop, I wouldn't trust anyone.
posted by fungible at 10:56 PM on June 3, 2005


Um, 23skidoo, I answered your question.
posted by LordSludge at 10:57 PM on June 3, 2005


"Yeah, and cops love wrestling dudes out of cars..." Can't do the job? Get another!
" The only serious problem I have is with the second use of the tazer. " Yup, bein' an asshole is a good reason to have a dangerous weapon used on you. By that reasoning most of us at MeFi would be zapped.
posted by arse_hat at 10:57 PM on June 3, 2005


"If I was a cop, I wouldn't trust anyone. That's why people like you and I should be purged from police forces.
posted by arse_hat at 11:00 PM on June 3, 2005


reminds me of an episode of COPS,where some idiot is breaking the law, and they get apprehended by the police...the guy tries to run but is stopped and cuffed, all the while continuing to try to get away - and all of a sudden, some lady steps outta her dingy apartment, with 3 kids in tow (Of course), angry that the Po-leece shouldn't have hurt that po' boy's arm when they were putting on his cuffs. She starts screamin' racism, etc etc.

Ok, how does that remind me of the clip above? It just goes to show that a certain segment of society thinks they can defy any and all authority, and they seek to blame those people who (for the most part) try to serve and PROTECT.

To be honest, if I had done what that woman had done, I would expect the same to be done to me. In fact, where's my taser?...ok, there it is

ZZZAP! *minutes of groaning and crying, and a faint smell of urine*
posted by newfers at 11:01 PM on June 3, 2005



eh, she didn't deserve that, and she didn't deserve to have the gun pointed at her either.

she never did anything to endanger that officer or make him feel unsafe.

posted by reflection at 10:55 PM PST on June 3 [!]


Maybe so, but do what he says and the taser goes back in the holster. I know I might get lippy and feel the cop's being a heavy handed prick if I were in the same situation, but tell me numerous times that you're about to use the weapon being pointed at me and I'm sure as hell not going to call your bluff...
posted by jikel_morten at 11:04 PM on June 3, 2005


Sure the woman acted incredibly stupid, but the fact remains that the cop is a sadistic little bastard.
posted by clevershark at 11:08 PM on June 3, 2005


"If I was a cop, I wouldn't trust anyone. That's why people like you and I should be purged from police forces.
posted by arse_hat at 11:00 PM PST on June 3 [!]


Well, I personally don't think trusting people who are currently breaking the law is the best move, especially if self preservation is something you're into.
posted by jikel_morten at 11:08 PM on June 3, 2005


If I was a cop, I wouldn't trust anyone.
posted by fungible at 10:56 PM PST on June 3 [!]


Just one other reason to believe that cops are not on our side. They aren't your friends, they aren't here to help, and they don't want to hear your side of the story.
posted by Balisong at 11:09 PM on June 3, 2005


What should he have done to get her out of the car?

Waited until she got tired of sitting there and got out? The cop's time isn't golden; it's not even REMOTELY justifiable to draw and fire a weapon (even a non-lethal one) just to speed things up. Stick a cop car in front of hers, and stick another one behind it, and she's not going anywhere but out.

It's almost guaranteed that if the cops had just held off for half an hour, she'd have gotten off the phone and come out. She's not just going to barricade herself in there all day.

Alternately, if he could do it without hurting her, just open the door and drag her out.

I'm not going to say the woman wasn't a jerk and an idiot, and the arrest was entirely justifiable, but it's possible for both the cops and the woman to be wrong. In this case, they both were; the woman should have gotten out, but the cops had NO justification for any kind of attack. They should be fired and barred from any kind of police/security work forever.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:09 PM on June 3, 2005


arse_hat : "Can't do the job? Get another!"

Um...they did the job.

arse_hat : "Yup, bein' an asshole is a good reason to have a dangerous weapon used on you. By that reasoning most of us at MeFi would be zapped."

I'd support that...Even if I was one of the people who got tazered.
posted by Bugbread at 11:10 PM on June 3, 2005


Sure the woman acted incredibly stupid, but the fact remains that the cop is a sadistic little bastard.
posted by clevershark at 11:08 PM PST on June 3 [!]


Far from fact.
posted by jikel_morten at 11:10 PM on June 3, 2005


During to Officer McNevin's wrap up he mentions that Victoria was trying to remove the taser barbs herself and would not turn over and put her hands behind her back.

If his discrpition is accurate, (i can't REALLY tell from the video) the second tasering seems reasonable to me.
posted by Hicksu at 11:11 PM on June 3, 2005


The arrest wasn't for speeding, it was for driving with a suspended license. I can tell you, unfortunately from personal experience, that in many places that is a required arrest. Note that the word is suspended, not expired; this isn't for the most part paperwork, it's deliberate flouting of the requirements to maintain a driver's license, and evidence of a prior serious traffic violation. Since in many cases it's easy to keep your license by showing up in court, paying a fine, and being humble to the judge, getting suspended pretty much means something. (In my case, I had no proof of insurance; I had a defense, but I had to go to court and work with the DMV to get things straight again.) She knew her license was suspended from the moment she saw the cop, and played dumb even after he found out.

Having gotten through a similar situation myself without being tasered, I have little sympathy. She created a confrontation. The cop may have been a little too quick by some lights but it seems like he responded within the rules of engagement of his department and training. The taser exists to protect cops without the use of lethal force. Unless we want more Rodney Kings, more choke-holds, or more Amadou Diallos, we're gonna have to accept a little more tasering. The risk may be non-zero, but so is Greco-Roman wrestling.
posted by dhartung at 11:12 PM on June 3, 2005


In the career panoply, being a cop is only moderately dangerous. A cop must be aware and observant but folks who can’t work with the sick, the drunk, the angry, the stupid and the antagonistic should not be cops.
posted by arse_hat at 11:12 PM on June 3, 2005


It's almost guaranteed that if the cops had just held off for half an hour, she'd have gotten off the phone and come out. She's not just going to barricade herself in there all day.

Ma'am you're under arrest. So whenever you get a chance, could you end your phone call and please exit the vehicle, you know, when you get a second. If you could go ahead and just do that, that'd be great. Thanks. We'll be out here waiting in the meantime. Let us know if you need anything.
posted by jikel_morten at 11:14 PM on June 3, 2005


arse_hat : "A cop must be aware and observant but folks who can’t work with the sick, the drunk, the angry, the stupid and the antagonistic should not be cops."

And these cops did work with the angry and antagonistic.
posted by Bugbread at 11:22 PM on June 3, 2005


Ma'am you're under arrest. So whenever you get a chance, could you end your phone call and please exit the vehicle, you know, when you get a second. If you could go ahead and just do that, that'd be great. Thanks. We'll be out here waiting in the meantime. Let us know if you need anything.

Yes, seriously, that IS how they should have done it. If she took off or drew a weapon, that's when they should have used violence, not just because she was inconveniencing them or insulting their giant cop egos by not following directions instantly.

God forbid the police be polite, and remember the fact that the people they arrest are every bit as important as they are.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:22 PM on June 3, 2005


What is wrong with you people? The situation involves, from the looks of it, a pretty scrawny woman and TWO very able-bodied, armed officers. Tazing someone is what you do when you're about to be attacked and you need to take someone down that you otherwise wouldn't be able to physically. That's what tazers are designed for.

This situation shouldn't even involve weapons at all. There is absolutely no reason for it to. Yes, she was speeding, being an ass, and not obeying the officer's orders, but nothing...absolutely nothing about this situation endangered the cops.

That's the whole of the situation right there. If, on the other hand, you think it's absolutely okay for an officer (protect and serve, and all that) to make any demand whatsoever at a traffic stop, and when it isn't obeyed, it's "i told ya so!"... well, I feel sorry for you. I really do.

"Get out of the car or I'm going to slash your tires... going to slash your tires...slash your tires....OKAY THERE, YOU MADE ME DO THAT..."

The reason it's completely, utterly ridiculous is that it isn't AT ALL NECESSARY. As others have already mentioned above, physical force to remove this woman from the car would have been entirely reasonable given her attitude, and would certainly have been within the capabilities of the TWO ARMED OFFICERS up against this woman with a cellphone.

And that isn't even considering the SECOND zap from the tazer... pure sadism. The officer should, by any rational standard of what would be professional, should be suspended indefinitely from his duties.

During to Officer McNevin's wrap up he mentions that Victoria was trying to remove the taser barbs herself and would not turn over and put her hands behind her back.

I find her response to being shot with metal darts and then electrocuted perfectly reasonable:
1. Figure out what the hell just happened
2. Locate source of problem, attempt to remove it as quickly as possible
3. Retreat into state of paralyzed fear and panic - do not move at all.

We'll be out here waiting in the meantime. Let us know if you need anything.

And what exactly would be the problem with this, besides that you obviously find it a bit humorous?
posted by odinsdream at 11:24 PM on June 3, 2005


Wouldn't that be resisting arrest? I honestly don't know. Would being told that you are being placed under arrest and proceding to sit in your car for an hour not be against the law?
posted by jikel_morten at 11:26 PM on June 3, 2005



The arrest wasn't for speeding, it was for driving with a suspended license.


You don't pull someone over for a suspended licence, and you don't tazer them if it is.
posted by Balisong at 11:27 PM on June 3, 2005


"And these cops did work with the angry and antagonistic." and totally fucked it up.
posted by arse_hat at 11:29 PM on June 3, 2005


You don't pull someone over for a suspended licence, and you don't tazer them if it is.
posted by Balisong at 11:27 PM PST on June 3 [!]


She didn't get tasered because of a suspended licence. Strawman.
posted by jikel_morten at 11:32 PM on June 3, 2005


odinsdream : "That's the whole of the situation right there. If, on the other hand, you think it's absolutely okay for an officer (protect and serve, and all that) to make any demand whatsoever at a traffic stop, and when it isn't obeyed, it's 'i told ya so!'... well, I feel sorry for you. I really do."

Nicely false dichotomy: you either think that they shouldn't have tazed her, or you believe that they can make any demand whatsoever?

If we're going to play the stupidly false dichotomy game, then, let me take a spin:

"If, on the other hand, you think it's absolutely okay for an officer to let anyone go, no matter the severity of the crime, if the perpetrator just doesn't 'feel' like being arrested...well, I feel sorry for you. I really do."

Silly, huh? And pretty much the equivalent of your statement.

arse_hat : "'And these cops did work with the angry and antagonistic.' and totally fucked it up."

I dunno. They got her out of the car. They got her cuffed. They didn't cause any long term injuries. From what I can tell, "totally fucking it up" consists of "annoying metafilter members". In which case, my neighbor totally fucked up on making his new stereo system, because it annoys me.
posted by Bugbread at 11:34 PM on June 3, 2005


No, she got tazered for non compliance within 10 seconds.
Reguardless of guilt, she was a non-threat.

What do you want to bet that these cops just got new tazers last week, and were dying to try them out?
posted by Balisong at 11:36 PM on June 3, 2005


Balisong : "You don't pull someone over for a suspended licence, and you don't tazer them if it is."

Er...no, you pull them over for speeding, then you discover they have a suspended license, then you arrest them for driving with a suspended license and/or speeding. And you don't tazer them for driving with a suspended license, or for speeding, but for not following orders to get out of the car. It's pretty simple; you should watch the video again if the sequence is confusing.
posted by Bugbread at 11:36 PM on June 3, 2005


And what exactly would be the problem with this, besides that you obviously find it a bit humorous?

That if you're driving on a suspended liscence, you shouldn't get to decide when you get arrested, and it shouldn't be dependant upon how long you can sit inside a car. If they should have dragged her out of the car, that's one thing, but there's no way that the cops should have to wait for her to be okay with being arrested.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:37 PM on June 3, 2005


WHEN IS SHE PLACED UNDER ARREST???
posted by LordSludge at 11:38 PM on June 3, 2005


Just last week I went to a fabric store to buy some material for a curtain. A women in front of me went on a screaming jag because she felt the tax on her purchase was out by 2 cents! She carried on for close to 20 minutes (I wondered out to look at the plantings in the boxes in front of the store). She even brought out the race card, which was funny as the sales clerk was an east Indian Muslim! Assholes abound and if you can’t deal without resorting to a deadly weapon then you should not be a cop (and as an Irish Catholic boy I have cops in the family).
posted by arse_hat at 11:38 PM on June 3, 2005


Balisong : "What do you want to bet that these cops just got new tazers last week, and were dying to try them out?"

Ok, I'll bet $5 that that was not the case...but how are we going to resolve the bet? Seems like we'd need to know someone in the department.
posted by Bugbread at 11:39 PM on June 3, 2005


"but for not following orders to get out of the car. It's pretty simple; you should watch the video again if the sequence is confusing.", WOW you are scarrrrrry.
posted by arse_hat at 11:40 PM on June 3, 2005


bugbread, you must have misunderstood my sentence. It was horribly worded, I admit. I don't know who dichotomy is, or why I want to set him up with anyone. What I was saying is this:
* What happened shouldn't have happened, and those of you who think it should because she "disobeyed" the officer are surprising to me because:
* I don't think officers can simply demand whatever they want, i.e., if you don't do ____ I will do ____, and when I do ____, I'm completely justified, because you disobeyed me.
And, what I was trying to get across was, if you believe officers CAN make demands that are then retroactively justified when someone disobeys said demand, I feel sorry for you, because that's so horribly misguided.

And you don't tazer them for...but for not following orders to get out of the car.

No, you don't tazer them for that, either.
posted by odinsdream at 11:42 PM on June 3, 2005


Well, what part of "get out of the car or I am going to tas you" did the individual not understand?
Idiocy like this starts in our current school system, and ends individuals up in prison when they can not comply with the most simple of requests from authority figures.

Good God, that woman is screaming like a stuck pig. On the other hand, that might just be her level in some aspects.

Maybe they could replace Darth Vader's "Nooooooooo" with her voice....
Hate me forever, but the more of this I watch, the more it cracks me up.... good thing this did not occur during the Roman empire, or missy would simply not be around anymore. Or, imagine missy doing this in ANY OTHER COUNTRY EXCEPT FOR THE UNITED STATES.... we all know the answer to that situation.
Nothing follows.
posted by buzzman at 11:44 PM on June 3, 2005


What if (Ut, oh.. strawman comming up, you can just tell) she was consolong a frightened child in the back seat, and wanted a second to make sure the child was OK before confronting the cop? What if the child was on the phone?

The cop acted with undue force. He should at least be investigated to see if he has a history of a heavy hand, and maybe give him a written warning. If it happens again, prosecute.
posted by Balisong at 11:45 PM on June 3, 2005


there's no way that the cops should have to wait for her to be okay with being arrested.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:37 PM PST on June 3 [!]


Exactly. That's one of the most effed up things I've ever heard.
posted by jikel_morten at 11:45 PM on June 3, 2005


Cops dont take chances with their lives when someone is being confrontational.
posted by stbalbach at 11:46 PM on June 3, 2005


LordSludge : "WHEN IS SHE PLACED UNDER ARREST???"

THEY ARREST HER AT 07:59:33!!! AND WHY ARE YOU TYPING ALL IN CAPS???

odinsdream : "those of you who think it should because she 'disobeyed' the officer are surprising to me because:
* I don't think officers can simply demand whatever they want, i.e., if you don't do ____ I will do ____, and when I do ____, I'm completely justified, because you disobeyed me."


Ah, now we're getting closer to the point of what I was saying above, and, quite possibly, one of the sources of disagreement in this thread.

You think the tazing was wrong. However, you're interpreting the people who think it was right as believing that officers can simply demand whatever they want.

I think the tazing was justified. I do NOT, however, think that officers can simply demand whatever they want.

arse_hat : "WOW you are scarrrrrry."

??? For understanding the sequence was "speeding -> pull over -> ask to exit car -> taze -> discover suspended license -> arrest"? I wasn't aware chronological comprehension was scarrrrrry.
posted by Bugbread at 11:47 PM on June 3, 2005


I'm sort of confused by the apologists for the cop as well. No, in the old days they WOULDN'T have shot her, I don't know what freakish alternate reality you live in, but in mine I don't recall people being shot for taking their sweet time exiting a vehicle. I won't say they were necessary super polite, but they didn't use lethal force.

They didn't use batons either; you couldn't really under these sorts of circumstances. I have to think they had non-lethal and effective methods for dealing with this sort of situation in the past; why are those methods suddenly inferior to tasering a woman? Why does the existence of an admittedly effective but excruciatingly painful weapon suddenly make it the preferable choice?

If you're going to say it's because it's less likely the cop will be killed or injured on the job, I'd like to see the statistics where police officer injuries/fatalities have gone down since the introduction of the taser, since you'd expect to see at least some decrease that's attributable to their use. Otherwise it's just a more painful and less humane way of dealing with tense situations.

And you know what? Even if injuries, or even deaths, have gone down, I'm not sure I'm an advocate for their unrestricted use. If the only criteria for possible tools is that they work, they don't usually kill the suspect, and they make the cop's job safer in some situations, it leaves open a pretty vast array of methods that could be considered at once both effective and horribly inhumane.
posted by wolftrouble at 11:48 PM on June 3, 2005


Show me the confrontation. She was TOTALLY non-confontational.

Did she pull out a knife or something that the video not show?
posted by Balisong at 11:49 PM on June 3, 2005


"Well, what part of "get out of the car or I am going to tas you" did the individual not understand?" And how is that relevant? How about "dance for me wino or I am going to tas you" or maybe "show me your tits whore or I am going to tas you"? Not getting out of a car is not a reason to use a deadly weapon.
posted by arse_hat at 11:49 PM on June 3, 2005


"ask to exit car -> taze ->" OK now it all makes sense!
posted by arse_hat at 11:51 PM on June 3, 2005


The tazer isn't used to stop resistence.

It's used by cops as a form of as extra-judical punishment.
posted by orthogonality at 11:52 PM on June 3, 2005


bugbread, what's scary is that you think "electrocution" somehow fits into the sequence by even the strangest definition of "rational behaviour" as far as I can tell.

I want to know why you think electrocution should be considered so soon (at all, really) in a situation like this, where the officers already clearly have the upper hand physically, mentally, strategically, and in terms of their armament.

I'm not going to address your comments about false dichotomy or my fill-in-the-blanks, because they didn't make any sense.
posted by odinsdream at 11:55 PM on June 3, 2005


She was going to be arrested. She refused to get out of the car and she physically resisted arrest. The police department probably feels that there is less risk of physical injury to both the officer (way more important to the pd) and the resistor if instead of trying to wrestle a person resisting arrest, the police use a tazer. That said, I still agree with And you know what? Even if injuries, or even deaths, have gone down, I'm not sure I'm an advocate for their unrestricted use. If the only criteria for possible tools is that they work, they don't usually kill the suspect, and they make the cop's job safer in some situations, it leaves open a pretty vast array of methods that could be considered at once both effective and horribly inhumane.
posted by lazy-ville at 11:56 PM on June 3, 2005


She was TOTALLY non-confontational.

You cant be serious. Look, I have a step sister who is a cop, I hear the stories all the time. This lady had it coming no questions. If a cop tells you to step out of the car and you dont do it, a world of hurt is coming down, and the only question becomes, whose going to get hurt. This "lady" was playing games even after she got tazed.
posted by stbalbach at 11:58 PM on June 3, 2005


Get some more cops, extract her from the vehicle and lower her self-esteem without using Tom Swift and his Electric Rifle. Still, funny is funny.
posted by longsleeves at 12:00 AM on June 4, 2005


Well, what part of "get out of the car or I am going to tas you" did the individual not understand?

Perhaps the part where the cop has NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to demand that? The cop's right to use weapons derives from the same principle as everyone else's; he gets to use them to defend himself, or others. He has absolutely NO RIGHT to use a weapon unless she attacked him, or attacked someone else.

Or, imagine missy doing this in ANY OTHER COUNTRY EXCEPT FOR THE UNITED STATES.... we all know the answer to that situation.

In any other country? Almost any nation in Europe would have dealt with this better. Canada would have dealt with this better. The only countries that would have had the answer you describe are brutal, third-world hellholes we have no desire to emulate.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:01 AM on June 4, 2005


If that's the case, why not just shoot a fire extinguisher full of pepper spray into every vehicle stop, and all police show up in gas masks.

It'd probably be safer for the police, and they wouldn't stop you if you weren't pre-guilty right?
posted by Balisong at 12:01 AM on June 4, 2005



I'm not going to address your comments about false dichotomy or my fill-in-the-blanks, because they didn't make any sense.
posted by odinsdream at 11:55 PM PST on June 3 [!]


Actually, it made perfect sense.
posted by jikel_morten at 12:01 AM on June 4, 2005


"If a cop tells you to step out of the car and you dont do it, a world of hurt is coming down" AH, so the cops ARE just thugs!
posted by arse_hat at 12:05 AM on June 4, 2005


(Dios is gonna have a field day when he gets back from vacation...)
posted by Balisong at 12:09 AM on June 4, 2005


wolftrouble : "I have to think they had non-lethal and effective methods for dealing with this sort of situation in the past; why are those methods suddenly inferior to tasering a woman? Why does the existence of an admittedly effective but excruciatingly painful weapon suddenly make it the preferable choice?"

The old way was training a weapon on the person in the car while the other officer opened the door, grabbed the occupant, and slammed them to the pavement. Basically, I just see this as six of one and half a dozen of the other. Tazing hurts a hell of a lot more, but you're far less likely to break a limb. You're marginally more likely to have a heart attack. You're less likely to get a concussion.

arse_hat : "How about 'dance for me wino or I am going to tas you' or maybe 'show me your tits whore or I am going to tas you'?"

Since you support arresting for driving with a suspended license, then, how about arresting someone for being left-handed, or for double-knotting their shoelaces? After all, as long as we can make random inapplicable examples as 'counterarguments', anything goes!

Personally, I'm saddened, arse_hat, that you apparently support arresting people merely for being Jewish.

arse_hat : "'ask to exit car -> taze ->' OK now it all makes sense!"

Arse_hat, I'm talking chronology, not justification. Someone asked "since when do you taze someone for driving with a suspended license". I'm pointing out that in neither her, their, or most of our minds, was the tazing related to the suspended license. It was related to the not-getting-out-of-carness. So, yeah, chronologically, it makes sense. That doesn't mean it's justified, or civil, or humane, or anything else which is a good topic for discussion. But saying "she got tazed for having a suspended license" is like saying "I got a cold when I was an infant for cheating on a test when I was in elementary school". It is possible only in the realms of science fiction, and should be avoided in a serious discussion. If trying to maintain that causes preceed effects is "scary", then may the world always be scary.

odinsdream : "I want to know why you think electrocution should be considered so soon (at all, really) in a situation like this, where the officers already clearly have the upper hand physically, mentally, strategically, and in terms of their armament."

Because, without tazing, they don't really have the upper hand in terms of strategy (she is in a car, they are not), armament (unless god forbid you propose that they forego tazing her and shoot her instead, which I clearly don't think you believe), mentally (I'd say that's about a tie). So the choice comes down to "taze" or "grab and wrestle out of car", and wrestling out of a car, I suspect, hurts just as bad, but carries a larger risk of permanent injury than tazing does.

And if they don't maintain the option of wrestling out of the car, they have no upper hand at all.

Mitrovarr : "Or, imagine missy doing this in ANY OTHER COUNTRY EXCEPT FOR THE UNITED STATES.... we all know the answer to that situation."

Japan probably would have let her go (recalling amusing videotape where cops try to arrest a guy high on speed swinging a bat, only to run like hell when he comes after them, culminating in him stealing their police car. America is far too permissive of police action, but in Japan you lose the ability to be promoted permanently if you ever fire your weapon, even if you don't hit anyone. But that's just random trivia.)

Balisong : "If that's the case, why not just shoot a fire extinguisher full of pepper spray into every vehicle stop, and all police show up in gas masks."

Because not everybody refuses to follow standard pull-over procedures, like getting out of the car, opening the glove box, producing driver's license and registration, and the like.

Man, is there anybody in this thread who'se wearing cleats, because this whole thing seems to be composed of one giant slippery slope.

Balisong : "It'd probably be safer for the police, and they wouldn't stop you if you weren't pre-guilty right?"

It's sad that you think so.
posted by Bugbread at 12:09 AM on June 4, 2005


It's called snarky sarcasm.. but you know that.
posted by Balisong at 12:12 AM on June 4, 2005


"Arse_hat, I'm talking chronology, not justification." OK, by chronology you are right but the justification is not there and the thug should be fire.
posted by arse_hat at 12:13 AM on June 4, 2005


or even fired!
posted by arse_hat at 12:15 AM on June 4, 2005


Well, I have always complied with what police ask of me and situations evolve in professional manner. ... ~I'm on the phone now so I can't step out of the car ~ ... DUH, no wonder the cop got irritated...
Add onto that, the broken windshield, suspended license, speeding, no seat belt... Hmmm... does anybody want her near their elementary school when class lets out? Driving around their neighborhood?
I say get this person out of the car, and never to be driving a 4,000 pound projectile again.
Either way, some pro-bono Florida lawyer is using Florida taxpayer monies to attempt damages because of this incident. Talk about where liberalism meets the taxpayer! Ha!
posted by buzzman at 12:17 AM on June 4, 2005


Ya know.. I used to drive with a *expired* licence.
For 6+ years.
I had been afraid of getting it renewed because when I did, the gal at the DMV told me there was an outstanding charge against my driving record.

When I finally wend down and got it cleared up it was..
"Skateboarding on the Sidewalks" ticket.
Filed as a moving violation.
What a crock of shit!

I had been pulled over, and showed my expired licence, and the cop had given me a ticket.

$40 plus court costs.

This was in a whole different dimention, tho...
It was the Clinton years.
posted by Balisong at 12:18 AM on June 4, 2005


"Arse_hat, I'm talking chronology, not justification." OK, by chronology you are right but the justification is not there and the thug should be fire.
posted by arse_hat at 12:13 AM PST on June 4 [!]


I think if you resist arrest, as she did, you open yourself up to the use of force, albeit at some unknown quantity. The subject will not necessarily know what's coming (wresling, baton, pepper, purple nurple...etc) and essentially rolls the dice by not cooperating. It's basically the chance one takes by resisting. In this case, the subject had the luxury of seeing the tool of coercion accompanied by numerous warnings and still chose to resist.
posted by jikel_morten at 12:25 AM on June 4, 2005


I believe, if someone is pointing a Taser at you, and asking you to do something, you shouldn't be overly surprised if you don't do it, and get tasered. Cop or not.

She got what she was looking for.

Sure, the cop was a fucking asshat too - but since when is it news that a cop is overly aggressive? Look at the people you went to school with who turned out to be cops. It attracts an aggressive personality type. (Not saying all cops are aggressive here)

When you combine a non lethal weapon with that sort of personality, and a dangerouos and stressful job - then this sort of thing is going to happen on a weekly basis. The consequences of cop escalating the situation into violence are reduced because hes replaced his pistol with a Taser.
posted by BadSeamus at 12:27 AM on June 4, 2005


bugbread, electrocution is not reasonable at all unless the cops felt they were in danger. They weren't in danger, they just had no idea how to control the situation without using their new toys. Their actions are like that of frightened children; when you don't get your way, hit something hard until you get your way... and I for one certainly don't feel safer knowing these guys wear a badge. I really don't.

I don't understand at all how you think being pulled out of your car by your arm is worse than having electrified metal darts shot into your flesh.

It's also interesting that you seem to be taking the position that this woman was, if not on equal footing, had the upper hand. You have to admit that's amazing, I mean...really incredible.
posted by odinsdream at 12:27 AM on June 4, 2005


I had been pulled over, and showed my expired licence, and the cop had given me a ticket.

$40 plus court costs.

This was in a whole different dimention, tho...
It was the Clinton years.
posted by Balisong at 12:18 AM PST on June 4 [!]


Expired != Suspended.

Big difference.
posted by jikel_morten at 12:29 AM on June 4, 2005


sorta.. is that the cop's place to judge, or... the judge?
posted by Balisong at 12:32 AM on June 4, 2005


Hate me forever, but the more of this I watch, the more it cracks me up....

Do me a favor: bookmark your comment then go to bed. Wake up in the morning, re-read it. Yeah, real funny shit, eh?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:34 AM on June 4, 2005


Balisong : "It's called snarky sarcasm.. but you know that."

Yeah, I got that, but it was snarky sarcasm pointed at me/us related to a position that me/maybe-us don't hold, which is that people are pre-guilty, so that was snarky sarcasm directed back at you (i.e. "Since I don't think that, then it must be you that's thinking that.")

odinsdream : "they just had no idea how to control the situation without using their new toys."

Do you have any justification for that opinion?

odinsdream : "I don't understand at all how you think being pulled out of your car by your arm is worse than having electrified metal darts shot into your flesh."

You haven't seen many people get pulled out of their cars, then. We're not talking "aggressive version of trying to get shotgun seat in your friend's car".

odinsdream : "It's also interesting that you seem to be taking the position that this woman was, if not on equal footing, had the upper hand. You have to admit that's amazing, I mean...really incredible."

I'm not...quite. I'm saying, if police are denied all options of excercising force, then, except for the psychology of the badge and uniform, she would have it. After all, without the ability to use the force legally, what hand do cops have? Scintillating personality and conviviality?

Regardless, I've let my bile get the best of me. I should probably clarify what I think:

You have to obey the directives of an officer when they've pulled you over, as long as said directives are within the boundaries of the law. As such, "Get out of the car", or "Show me your driver's license and vehicle registration" are perfectly legal and valid. "Show us your tits being valid" or "Cops can ask you to do anything they want" is in no way my opinion, or true.

At the point you are disobeying an officer's orders, you're breaking extra laws. That was stupid.

Tazers are non-lethal force. In my opinion, they're marginally (but only marginally) better than the older alternative, "slam person's face on pavement", and better than alternative "allow person to continue to break the law and force a standoff until they decide to either capitulate (good) or drive off (much worse)". Without the ability to use any force whatsoever if the arrestee is nonviolent, the only power police have is to effectively arrest only violent perpetrators or rely on the honor system ("We'd really like you to get out of the car, ma'am, if that's OK with you"). In a situation like that, a murderer who was polite to the police could just sit in his car and decide at leisure whether to capitulate, fight or flight. A child pornographer could just hole themselves up and decide whether to capitulate, fight or flight. And if we accept "fight" as being the only option where any force is allowed, that means that anyone could flee the police at will, as long as they never directed any violence at the police. Ignore sirens indicating that you pull over, whathaveyou.

On the other hand, I do agree that lethal force should only be directed at perps immediately posing a violent threat at the police or others. You can taze a murderer running away from you; you should not be able to shoot them in the back. If said murderer, armed with knife, is running at the police, however, or some other bystander, then lethal force weapons should be permitted (though not required; if you can taze a murderer running at someone with a knife, then by all means do so, instead of shooting them).

And, all that said: the cops were assholes. That's pretty straightforward. If there'd been a ten minute standoff, it would be more justified. Allowing a short time to obey the law is not as decent as waiting. Calming her down. Explaining the situation. So, yes, I think they are assholes. I just don't think it's to the degree that they should be fired, described as the gestapo, or the like, which is what triggered me. To provide a non-violent example: a cop who writes you a ticket for driving 1 mph over the speed limit is an asshole. A royal asshole. But I don't think they should be called the gestapo, or to be fired. They're an asshole, that's all. Lots of people are assholes, and within reasonable limits, we deal with it. The lady was an asshole. The cop responded by being an asshole. In an ideal situation, the lady wouldn't have been an asshole. In an ideal situation, if she were an asshole, the cop wouldn't have been an asshole. Unfortunately, they were both assholes. I just don't think either one exceeded the boundaries of acceptable assholism.
posted by Bugbread at 12:39 AM on June 4, 2005


Just for the record, there's a difference between "expired" and "suspended." Often license suspensions are for things like DWI's, or driving recklessly and refusing to take breathalyzer or drug test. It indicates that the woman could indeed be dangerous in a car, and that warrants arrest. The manner of arrest is another matter.
posted by QuietDesperation at 12:40 AM on June 4, 2005


In the career panoply, being a cop is only moderately dangerous.

Right, and that's only because most people have the sense to follow lawful orders by police officers because those cops are able to use force if necessary to carry out their duties. Take away the ability to use force and the job danger becomes much less "moderate." The danger to the rest of us, when the police are figuratively castrated by you (dare I say) anarchists also becomes much less "moderate."

And Balisong, *all* uses of force, including keeping somebody in handcuffs, could be considered "extra-judicial punishment." Would you care to elaborate on which uses of force by police are okay and which are not? It would go a long way toward assessing your credibility on this.

Pulling somebody over and not being able to see what the driver or passenger(s) may be reaching for is one of the most dangerous parts of a police officer's work. Of course, they're all "pigs" to you geniuses, so fuck 'em. Right?

I may be going way out on a limb here, but I'd wager that many of you who are so militantly opposed to police have a history of run-ins with the law. I'm sure they're just out to get you. . .
posted by BrandonAbell at 12:41 AM on June 4, 2005


Yes, I will remember it. For all the time riding a dirt bike in the city limits, driving with a suspendend license, or as now, and expired inspection sticker, ... if the cops catch you; and you CHOOSE to challenge the police... you LOSE!!! I am laughing now. Stupid actions yield stupid results. I think it is hilarious. Odds say that once downtown, her license is also previously suspended, or her insurance is false.
As before, and either way; people like this do NOT need to be in charge of 4,000 pound projectiles moving along at 51 mph in a 35 mph limit area. Or any other.
as a little sidebar... she did pass in the slow lane, didn't she? Set for stun, and end her license for five or more years. Priviledge revoked!

posted by buzzman at 12:43 AM on June 4, 2005


Balisong : "sorta.. is that the cop's place to judge, or... the judge?"

Kind of a tricky question. First off, judging is within a cop's place in certain situations (not necessarily this one). For example, "Guy with machinegun shooting at elementary school kids" = the cop has the ability, by seeing the crime taking place, to act as a sort of proxy judge and shoot Mr. Machinegun. He doesn't have to avoid all force in order to arrest the person in order that the judge (or, more accurately, the jury) decides whether the person is guilty or not.

In this situation, which I acknowledge is far, FAR less cut-and-dried, there are certain parts in which the police cannot act as judge; for example, determination of speeding. Even though the cop has a radar, it's up to the court to determine if the person was really speeding. However, at the point where the person is resisting arrest, it does fall in to the cop's scope to determine that the person is resisting arrest. Whether that justifies tasering is a separate issue, but in this place it is the cop's place to judge if they're resisting arrest...Which, again, is why the chronology (or, better phrased, "why he tasers her") is important: if you interpret the tasering as being "for having a suspended license", then he's just totally, absolutely, incontrovertibly in the wrong. However, he doesn't tazer her on finding out that she's got a suspended license, or that she's speeding, but he tazer's her for resisting arrest / failure to obey an officer's commands. In this case, it is his place to judge, to the extent of determining a follow up course of action, but not OK to judge to the extent of fining or providing other punitive actions unrelated to causing her to stop her noncompliance. That is, if he didn't taze her or take any money, that would be fine. If he tazered her but took no money, his judging would be fine, but his determination of appropriate course of action might not be fine. If he tazered her and fined her on the spot, his judging would not be fine.

BrandonAbell : "I may be going way out on a limb here, but I'd wager that many of you who are so militantly opposed to police have a history of run-ins with the law."

I support this officer's actions (or, at least, the first tazering, but not the second). I think he was a jerk, but I support his actions as being within acceptable scope. I am, however, generally opposed to the police. Not as a concept, but in their particular reality. I have no history of run-ins with the law. Many, many, many people I know are opposed to the actual reality of police, and they have no history of run-ins with the law. I think you are going very very far out on a limb.
posted by Bugbread at 12:53 AM on June 4, 2005


And Balisong, *all* uses of force, including keeping somebody in handcuffs, could be considered "extra-judicial punishment." Would you care to elaborate on which uses of force by police are okay and which are not? It would go a long way toward assessing your credibility on this.

Well, OK. I wasn't the one who brought extra judicial punishment up, but OK..

Pulling fingernails out Not OK
Politely asking someone to put down the phone, and waiting until they did, before questioning them further, OK
Chinese Water Torture, Not OK.
Grabing the phone from their hands while having a hand on your pistol in order to ensure their attention, OK.
Pointing and then tazing someone talking on the phone because they did not immediately comply with your request? Not OK.
Calling for backup to render the car and it's operator completely immobile, OK
Using a tazer on a persumably innocent trafic stop for a non- life threatening situation, Not OK.
Killing an armed assailant who is comming at you with a broken bottle, OK

If the cops can't use any more restraint than this, they should be US army prison guards, not cops on US streets..
(you know,, snarky)
posted by Balisong at 12:58 AM on June 4, 2005


bugbread: THEY ARREST HER AT 07:59:33!!! AND WHY ARE YOU TYPING ALL IN CAPS???

Cuz nobody was addressing my question, a rhetorical question of chronology rather than of simple timestamp. (Sorry if the font offended you; I hope we can put that unpleasantness behind us. I also used the "big" tag. Bad Sludge.) Anyhow, my point...

My problem with the stop: The cop demands that she hang up the phone and get out of the car without informing her that she's under arrest. (Sure, from the video we know that she knows/thinks/fears she is about to be arrested, but the cop doesn't know this.) Is she legally obligated to comply?

bugbread: Because not everybody refuses to follow standard pull-over procedures, like getting out of the car, opening the glove box, producing driver's license and registration, and the like.

She did produce license and registration. And getting out of the car is not, I think, a "standard pull-over procedure". I've been pulled over several times (all speeding...), and I've never been asked -- before seeing this video I may well have refused.

Seriously, I want to know:
1. Are you legally "under arrest" anytime a cop pulls you over? (I think the answer is no.) If so, that would seem to obligate you to comply with ANY request, so as not to be Resisting Arrest. If not...
2. What all are you required to do without being under arrest? Pretty sure the license, registration, and proof of insurance are mandatory. Pretty sure opening your trunk or even glovebox is not, without probable cause. (See illegal search and seizure) Not sure whether exiting vehicle is mandatory or not.
3. Is it different depending on whether you're pulled over in a vehicle vs. stopped while walking/biking/skateboarding/whatever?

Is there a lawyer in the house??

Quite telling that so many people think she deserved to be tazed for being rude. So much for rule of law. Bring on some sweet, sweet street justice!

On preview: Wow that's the most uses of "asshole" I've ever seen in a single paragraph! Gotta say, though, that the use of a potentially lethal weapon is a high grade of assholism than yakking on a cell phone...
posted by LordSludge at 1:01 AM on June 4, 2005


bugbread, please stop pretending someone in the thread believes he tasered her for having a suspended license or speeding. Nobody thinks this is what happened, and we can all review the video to verify this more-than-obvious fact.

The whole point is that given the entire situation, it seems very UN-reasonable for him to choose tasering when he did. The woman was not posing a threat, was not resisting arrest physically (unless you count sitting there as "resisting"), and was in plain view of both officers during the event. The use of a weapon, even a so-called "non-lethal" one (ask someone with a pacemaker...) is uncalled for. Pulling her out of the car would be completely justified. I don't know why you pretend that wouldn't be legal, yet believe shooting darts at her is.
posted by odinsdream at 1:04 AM on June 4, 2005


I may be going way out on a limb here, but I'd wager that many of you who are so militantly opposed to police have a history of run-ins with the law. I'm sure they're just out to get you. . .

I think your limb snapped and yeah; I'm a genius.
I've worked in armed security, personal protection and housing projects in Chicago where we did get shot at and fucked with regularly. We were trained to de-escalate situations; not meet them with superior firepower. That's just fucking insane and over the top. There's a protocol you follow to assess threats. Based on just that video, it sure looked like the cop went from sero to sixty with no in-between.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:08 AM on June 4, 2005


"Try that on me and I'll blast any cop in the face/throat. I'm holding a rubbed out .45...try that on me or any member of my family (a female) I'll blast you in the throat. Trust me I head out to the shooting range everyother weekend.....your picture just made me a new target pig."
posted by longbaugh at 1:15 AM on June 4, 2005


So... When is a person considered to be "under arrest"? Is it:
a. Anytime a cop pulls you over?
b. Anytime a cop tells you to exit your vehicle?
c. Anytime a cop gets angry, yells at you, and threatens to taze you?
d. Anytime a cop tells you are, in fact, under arrest?
e. Other?

Cuz I sorta thought the answer was "d.", and he never once told her that. Hence, no resisting arrest, just, at worst, failure to comply with a lawful request. And I'm not even sure about that.

On preview, longbaugh: Exactly. Excessive use of force just makes the world more dangerous for cops. It's as if they think they can bully public opinion into submission.
posted by LordSludge at 1:17 AM on June 4, 2005


I, (knock on virtual wood), haven't been pulled over for many years.

The last time I did, I had a pistol in the car. (headlight out)
I told the officer right where it was after he asked if there were any weapons in the car. I asked him if he would like for me to give it to him, or if he would want to retreive it himself.
He wanted to retreive it himself, so I exited the car, just like I was told.
The pistol, a Ruger p89 loaded, and chambered, was just where I told him it was. along with an extra magazine.
He thought I was DUI. I said I wasn't.
I passed 4 different breathalisers, that they just couldn't believe weren't working.
He said I needed to go down to the hospital for a blood test. I complied.
My pistol was taken as "possible" evidence.
The results came back and my Blood Alcohol level was 0.00%
But I still spent a night in county jail.
I talked to the DA about getting my pistol back, and he said it was to be destroyed.
I knew my rights, for the state and county, and city limits, and knew that even concealed, which it was, and loaded, which it was, I was legal in my carry option.
I got my pistol back.
It cost me $800 for a lawyer to convince the DA that I was legal in my actions, all over a $350 pistol. but I won, and got it back.

Everything except the part about me having to prove that I was legal for the DA. was justifiable. I talked guns with the cop who had me in his cruiser. We talked about tritium nightsights, 9mm VS. .45, polymer VS. steel guns. He was very polite. So was I.

The point is that I was LEGAL in my carrying of a loaded concealed firearm, and I'm glad I live in the wild west, rather than S. Florida, where that would be a death sentance.
posted by Balisong at 1:29 AM on June 4, 2005


LordSludge : "And getting out of the car is not, I think, a 'standard pull-over procedure'. I've been pulled over several times (all speeding...), and I've never been asked -- before seeing this video I may well have refused."

Ok, then, this may also be a big component in the gap occuring here: any times I or a friend have been pulled over, it included a "get out of the car". So I just put that together with "show license and registration". If it's in fact unusual, I can see where a lot of the divide here is happening.

LordSludge : "What all are you required to do without being under arrest? Pretty sure the license, registration, and proof of insurance are mandatory. Pretty sure opening your trunk or even glovebox is not, without probable cause. (See illegal search and seizure) Not sure whether exiting vehicle is mandatory or not."

That's the big question. And, honestly, I don't know.

LordSludge : "Quite telling that so many people think she deserved to be tazed for being rude."

Who thought that? If she'd exited the car while calling the cop an asshole, I definitely don't think that tazering would be remotely justified...who argued that rudeness was the issue?

LordSludge : "Gotta say, though, that the use of a potentially lethal weapon is a high grade of assholism than yakking on a cell phone..."

odinsdream : "bugbread, please stop pretending someone in the thread believes he tasered her for having a suspended license or speeding. Nobody thinks this is what happened"

My apologies (with reservation): I am not "pretending" that someone believes that. I am just plain wrong. It wasn't malicious or intentional. Balisong wrote: ""You don't pull someone over for a suspended licence, and you don't tazer them if it is." and then when I wrote out the chronology, arse_hat took issue with it. It appeared to me that Balisong and arse_hat were both taking the position that the tasering was due to the suspended license. Arse_hat clarified a few posts up, and upon reading your comment, I reread the thread and discovered that Balisong shortly after the first post said something to the effect of "That's not what I'm saying". So, I apologize for misreading; I was not "pretending", though.

odinsdream : "The whole point is that given the entire situation, it seems very UN-reasonable for him to choose tasering when he did."

Agreed. Like I say, I think it was unreasonable and jerkish and, again, assholish. I just don't think it's to the degree of firing him or comparing him to the Gestapo.

odinsdream : "The woman was not posing a threat"

Agreed.

odinsdream : "was not resisting arrest physically (unless you count sitting there as 'resisting')"

I do.

odinsdream : "was in plain view of both officers during the event."

Agreed.

odinsdream : "I don't know why you pretend that wouldn't be legal, yet believe shooting darts at her is."

When did I "pretend" that? And what's with all the "pretend"?


LordSludge: Just wanted to let you know that we're not ignoring you, I just suspect that nobody knows the answer to your questions.
I was always under the impression that it was something like:
You're under arrest when you are told you're under arrest. However, you have to comply with lawful orders by a policeman at a traffic stop, even when you aren't under arrest. Failure to do so makes you fail to comply with the law, which thereby makes you eligible for arrest. Or something along those lines. However, IAAL (I Am A Layman).
posted by Bugbread at 1:33 AM on June 4, 2005


If the woman was not already told she was under arrest, she wasn't. And the first, and second tasering was illegal.

Being beligerant is not against the law, if it is, show me the law.
If you continue to be beligerant after the cop tells you you are under arrest, you are breaking the law.

This is not what happened in the video.

The cop was still using unreasonable force. It was post-stop, but pre-arrest. If people can go to jail and be charged for resisting arrest, then cops can be charged for using undue force before arrest.

All he had to say is, "Ma'am, you are under arrest" and this wouldn't be an issue.
posted by Balisong at 1:47 AM on June 4, 2005


bugbread, it seemed like here's where you came off, to me, as assuming it was somehow legally risky for them to use physical force, yet somehow tazing was okay:

I'm saying, if police are denied all options of excercising force, then, except for the psychology of the badge and uniform, she would have it. After all, without the ability to use the force legally, what hand do cops have?

The police definitely weren't denied any options with regard to force, so clearly they do have the upper hand, by quite a large margin. As far as I know, it's normally acceptable for a cop to physically move you around in cases where you're being arrested. This is almost always expected in such cases, and in this situation, where the door was already open, and apparently the woman wasn't buckled in, and was using at least one hand to hold a cellphone, it would have been trivial and easy to pull her from the car. In my imagination, it's that doting reno-911-style "lets get out of the car crazy grandpa...ookaaay dooowwwn we go..."

These officers could have held the lady up by the shoulders and dangled her in the air. But, what happens instead? Metal electrified darts.
posted by odinsdream at 1:49 AM on June 4, 2005


I guess what really gets to the heart of my frustration is the very visible level of frustration and short temper of the officer. This person is charged with enforcing the law, and his handling of the situation, if not outright illegal, is certainly not professional...and in my opinion downright shameful. More importantly, though, was how clearly out of control the officers allowed this relatively passive situation to get. In my mind, I stack this behaviour up against a situation where the officers are actually threatened, and I come up with something very disturbing and dangerous to everyone involved. If they haven't been trained to handle a belligerent-but-unthreatening lady half their size, can you honestly say they've been trained properly?
posted by odinsdream at 1:55 AM on June 4, 2005


Her moaning was really disturbing. *shudder*

Has anyone here been tasered?

*wishes someone like KevinSkomsvold had his back*
posted by schyler523 at 2:00 AM on June 4, 2005


odinsdream : "After all, without the ability to use the force legally, what hand do cops have?"

Sorry, that was meant to include tazering and pulling from the car. I certainly don't think that the use of physical force is risky (er, well, rather, it is, but tazering is probably more risky. So, yeah, effectively, physical force = not appreciably legally risky). And I was apparently misinterpreting proscriptions against use of

odinsdream : "These officers could have held the lady up by the shoulders and dangled her in the air. But, what happens instead? Metal electrified darts."

As I figured, this is the point of contention. With the exception of pacemakers, I consider (through purely anecdotal evidence: I've never gotten so much as a traffic ticket) tazering to be more painful and less injurious than pulling and pavement slamming, which is less painful but more injurious. While I'm sure that they could have dangled her in the air, I've never seen that performed, neither in real life nor documentary footage. All I've ever seen is slamming on pavement or against side of car.
posted by Bugbread at 2:03 AM on June 4, 2005


Just stumbled onto this now...

Looks to me like an asshole cop on a power trip pulling a dick move. I'd be mad too if I pulled someone over and they put me off to talk on the phone, but if I'm the law at that point, I GRAB THE PHONE and say "She's under arrest and will call you back, maybe." I DONT GODDAMN RUN 10,000 VOLTS THROUGH HER BODY.

Is she a little to blame? Yeah, like 5%...dumb move trying to talk on the phone in the first place, dumber to keep trying when he draws a gun, dumber when he says get out or get tased. But if you're a cop charged with the duty to protect and serve citizens, assuming innocence and pulling over an ornery woman whose license is suspended for whatever reason and you pull your gun and taser and shock her twice? That's dumber than everything else put together.

She was being stupid - but the cop made the really poor choice, and he's going to go down for it, I guarantee it. No jury is going to watch that video and let it slide (although let's not forget 4/26/92).
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:09 AM on June 4, 2005


Alright, the dangling in the air is hyperbole, but meant to emphasise my opinion that the officers are stronger than this lady by several times, and could easily restrain her physically (here comes the best part) without the slamming-into-the-pavement part!

Why is slamming into the pavement necessary? Is she going to run away? To where? They know who she is and presumably where she lives. This situation couldn't be more under their control. It's practically something I'd expect to see directly in a training situation. Something not exactly by the book, but certainly not at all threatening, with several different options for how to handle it from waiting it out to shooting her brains out, and everything in between. No, they didn't handle it as badly as possible, but they did get pretty damn close. It would be the kind of training exercise that would end with the instructor asking "And what could Johnson have done differently, anyone?" while Johnson gets an F and a note that reads "try harder not to taze middle-aged moms next time."

On preview, BlackLeotardFront, I believe it was 50,000 volts.
posted by odinsdream at 2:14 AM on June 4, 2005


Hmm...can't find anything offhand about what laws govern compliance with police orders before arrest, but I have stumbled across a laundry list of common pull over points:

* When you see the red overhead lights and/or hear the siren, remain calm and safely pull over to the right side of the road.
* Remain in your vehicle unless the officer advises otherwise.
* Keep your hands on the steering wheel so the officer can see them.
* Avoid any sudden movements, especially toward the floor, rear seat, or passenger side of the vehicle.
* Do not reach for your license or other documents until the officer requests them.
* If your documents are out of reach, tell the officer where they are before you reach for them.
* If you have a weapon in the vehicle, promptly notify the officer of its location.
* If the stop occurs during darkness, turn on your dome or interior lights so the officer can easily see the interior of your car.
* If there are passengers in your vehicle, encourage them to remain quiet and cooperate with instructions.
* Regardless of your innocence the officer still has the right to see your paperwork and ask you to exit the car.
* The officer may issue you a citation. If you feel the reason is vague or unclear, ask the officer for details.
* Avoid becoming argumentative. If you contest the violation, you will have an opportunity to address the matter in court.
* Be honest with the officer.
* If you receive a citation, accept it calmly. Accepting it is not an admission of guilt. Your signature is usually, but not always, required.

(No, the above is not a description of law, and it isn't meant to serve as cop propaganda, though it basically is. I just post it here as a list of "relatively common" arrest things. Show documents? Check. Step out of car if asked? Check. Notify of weapons? Check. Show tits? No. Dance? No.)

Also, apparently, whether the officer has to state your charges or not varies from state to state. I suppose it is possible (any lawyers in the house?) to be under arrest without a verbal declaration of arrest.
posted by Bugbread at 2:16 AM on June 4, 2005


No jury is going to watch that video and let it slide

In this thread alone, there's nowhere even close to 100% agreement that what the cop did is punishable.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:20 AM on June 4, 2005


odinsdream : "Why is slamming into the pavement necessary? Is she going to run away? To where? "

You're right. I think I was thinking with an uneven and mismatched mix of abstract logic ("physical force" vs. "tazer") and concrete reality ("slamming to ground"), making my own dichotomy (groundslam OR tazer) false. While "groundslammin" would probably have been the next most likely course of action, we're not talking about what's likely, we're talking about what's right or good. He should have neither groundslammed her nor tazered her, but applied other, appropriate physical force (which I'm not too familiar with but am darned sure exists).
posted by Bugbread at 2:22 AM on June 4, 2005


I suppose it is possible (any lawyers in the house?) to be under arrest without a verbal declaration of arrest.

I'm not a lawyer, but I always thought you had to be read your miranda rights when you were arrested. Even if there is some obscure law that allows an officer to "arrest" you without actually saying so, it certainly is in the best interest of the officer to promptly notify the person that they are, in fact, under arrest.
posted by odinsdream at 2:31 AM on June 4, 2005


Just checked:

Q. Can police arrest or detain a person without reading them their Miranda rights?

A. Yes, but until the person has been informed of his or her Miranda rights, any statements made by them during interrogation may be ruled inadmissible in court.


odinsdream : "Even if there is some obscure law...it certainly is in the best interest"

Definitely agreed.
posted by Bugbread at 2:34 AM on June 4, 2005


I don't think that anything constitutes arrest until you are notified, in your language, or maybe Spanish, that you are under arrest. (Navajo?)

Anything that happens before is subject to criminal prosecution as if another non-cop did it to you.
Anything that happens after is subject to police procedure.

Anything else is beyond the law, and prosecutable.
posted by Balisong at 2:35 AM on June 4, 2005


Also, amusing (well, quite mildly) anecdote about effect of American pop culture on the world: an Aussie friend who had a cop friend in Australia reported it was not uncommon for people to demand that the police read them their Miranda rights, even though there is nothing called a "Miranda right" in Australian law, because it's what they saw in movies and assumed was "what happens when you get arrested".
posted by Bugbread at 2:39 AM on June 4, 2005


What I'm confused about, then, basically, is the whole "you aren't under arrest, but you have to do what the police tell you" end of the law. For example, if a police car flashes lights and rings its siren behind you, you have to pull over, despite the fact that they haven't announced that you're under arrest. The same for producing a driver's license, etc. So while you aren't under arrest, you still have to do what they ask, and, presumably, ignoring them is illegal. Always been a bit wavy about the specifics of how that's worked out.
posted by Bugbread at 2:41 AM on June 4, 2005


Those of you who think the cops should have lifted her from the car. I have a few questions. 1. Do you think this woman wouldn't have struggled? 2. Can two men hold onto a thrashing woman without slamming her against something (ground/car).


Regardless of all of that, as soon as they tried to grab her the woman could have stabbed the officer as far as they knew. Tasering is far preferrable to gun drawn wrestling out of the car (no AD's, no shooting of the suspect if she does have a knife/gun).


This woman is clearly in the wrong, and I am no fan of police having excessive power but you argue in court. The cops should not and are not required to wait while you take your own sweet time complying with their lawful orders. Those of you who suggested parking two cop cars around the car and waiting for her really want your pie in the sky. What happens four hours later when those same cops are needed at a hostage situation or a bank robbery or anything? Why is this woman more important than the hostage or the bank. She's not. Any suggestion otherwise is ludicrous.

I live semi-near this area and sincerely hope that they keep this lady off the road for a long time.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 3:11 AM on June 4, 2005


Those of you who think the cops should have lifted her from the car. I have a few questions. 1. Do you think this woman wouldn't have struggled? 2. Can two men hold onto a thrashing woman without slamming her against something (ground/car).


Regardless of all of that, as soon as they tried to grab her the woman could have stabbed the officer as far as they knew. Tasering is far preferrable to gun drawn wrestling out of the car (no AD's, no shooting of the suspect if she does have a knife/gun).


This woman is clearly in the wrong, and I am no fan of police having excessive power but you argue in court. The cops should not and are not required to wait while you take your own sweet time complying with their lawful orders. Those of you who suggested parking two cop cars around the car and waiting for her really want your pie in the sky. What happens four hours later when those same cops are needed at a hostage situation or a bank robbery or anything? Why is this woman more important than the hostage or the bank. She's not. Any suggestion otherwise is ludicrous.

I live semi-near this area and sincerely hope that they keep this lady off the road for a long time.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 3:11 AM on June 4, 2005


Sorry about the double post.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 3:11 AM on June 4, 2005


The officer tried to pull the driver out of the vehicle but she resisted. In addition Officer McNevin maintains that she took a swing at his colleague when he tried to remove her cell phone from the right side of the car. And there did appear to be some kind of commotion within the car on the video.

If you listen to the commentary from the police sergeant he explains that physically pulling the woman from the vehicle would have been more dangerous for both the woman and the officer.

It looks to me like the officer handled this one by the book.
posted by grouse at 3:21 AM on June 4, 2005


if a police car flashes lights and rings its siren behind you, you have to pull over, despite the fact that they haven't announced that you're under arrest.

Is that 'resisting arrest' or 'failure to yield to an emergency vehicle'? My point being that I thought there was a specific law addressing that.

The same for producing a driver's license, etc.

What would that offense be, assuming you flat out refuse?

Hey, that's a good link you posted. It appears that there is indeed a middle ground between 'freedom' and 'under arrest':

A person is considered to be "in custody" anytime they are placed in an environment in which they do not believe they are free to leave.

Can we agree that the woman was "in custody", but neither free to leave nor under arrest? The obvious followup question is... what are your rights and obligations while "in custody"?

Hrm..., just caught this:

* Regardless of your innocence the officer still has the right to see your paperwork and ask you to exit the car.

If that's true, can the cop taze you if you are completely innocent but refuse to exit the vehicle? What if you refuse to show ID? (For some reason the thought of: "pull-over -> tazing -> have-a-nice-day" cracks me up...) Guess the 50,000V question is: Can the tazer be legally used to coerce the subject into compliance with lawful requests while in custody but not under arrest?

What if you refuse to turn on your dome light, turn off the radio, keep both hands on wheel, refrain from picking your nose, eating onions, drooling excessively, talking with a silly accent or other things that are non-threatening but annoying to a cop? Are you legally eligible for a tazing if you refuse to comply?

Man, seems like some really fundamental questions that we don't have the answers for! Heh, where's a lawyer when ya need one?

FWIW, I want this woman off the road as much as anybody, not just for the legal offenses, but also cuz she's a shitty driver (driving while talking on phone, passing on right), but the use of a tazer -- or any weapon -- by a law officer on a citizen for anything but self-defense (expediency, punishment) is wrong.
posted by LordSludge at 3:29 AM on June 4, 2005


LordSludge : "Is that 'resisting arrest' or 'failure to yield to an emergency vehicle'? My point being that I thought there was a specific law addressing that."

Sorry if you misinterpreted me; that was my point too. There is not just a binary situation of "not under arrest, do what you will" and "under arrest, subsequent to all arrest laws". There are other situations, covered by other specific laws which I don't know anything about, that entail situations where you aren't under arrest, but must obey.

One that does occur to me, by the way, as a possibility for situations where the person has not yet been placed under arrest but is not cooperating, is "obstruction of justice". So, it occurs to me, if you refuse to provide your driver's license or the like, even though you haven't been arrested yet (for example, they've had a report of a stolen car that matches your's description, and they want to run your license through to see if it's yours or not. You are not under arrest until they can determine that you're the thief, but they can't determine you're the thief until you've given them your license), you could be charged with obstruction of justice.

LordSludge : "Can we agree that the woman was 'in custody', but neither free to leave nor under arrest?"

My guess (just a guess), is that this is true.

LordSludge : "Can the tazer be legally used to coerce the subject into compliance with lawful requests while in custody but not under arrest?"

Again, while I don't know, I have to say, you are the angel of appropriate and relevant questions.
posted by Bugbread at 3:41 AM on June 4, 2005


LordSludge : "Can the tazer be legally used to coerce the subject into compliance with lawful requests while in custody but not under arrest?"



I think the question would be more appropriately phrased: Can the tazer be legally used to force the subject into a position that he/she could be lawfully arrested.


She may have been in custody but the officers were attempting to arrest her.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 3:48 AM on June 4, 2005


BackwardsHatClub: I think the question would be more appropriately phrased: Can the tazer be legally used to force the subject into a position that he/she could be lawfully arrested.

Seperate question, but I'd think yes. My own question still stands unanswered.

BackwardsHatClub: She may have been in custody but the officers were attempting to arrest her.

Once again, shouldn't an officer that's arresting a subject have to inform the subject of that fact? How can a subject 'resist arrest' if they don't know that they're being placed under arrest?

I've had this happen, minus the resisting part. Cop was talking with me, then just slapped on the cuffs. I was like ... huh?? What if I had jerked my hands away? Would that be 'resisting arrest'??
posted by LordSludge at 4:04 AM on June 4, 2005


I agree with you that he should have said it, but the fact that he didn't doesn't excuse her behavior. In the heat of everything that was going on I can understand him not actually saying it, I might do the same thing. His normal strategy may be to get people out of the car before he informs them they are under arrest because it's less likely for things like this to happen that way.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 4:27 AM on June 4, 2005


If this was an IQ test then the woman failed.

Did she think she was going to call his bluff?

Did she think that the officer was joking?

Tazering someone certainly isn't the preferred outcome to a traffic stop, IMO. OTOH, not doing what a cop says when they have a weapon pointed at you.... I just can't fathom. This woman will end up on the Darwin awards sooner or later, whether it's at the hands of the cops or not.

FWIW, I'm probably someone who's side with, say, the ACLU over the cops 99.9% of the time. While I do think that this cop was an asshole, I'm more shocked at the absolute utter stupidity of the woman.
posted by MjrMjr at 4:33 AM on June 4, 2005


Fair enough, but it can't/shouldn't be 'resisting arrest'. Maybe 'obstruction of justice'?

Can't find the info for Florida, but in Minnesota (first Google hit), at least, the penalty is exactly the same.

Actually, it would appear to me, at this moment, that you can indeed be tazed for refusing to comply with a lawful request (obstruction of justice?), regardless of whether you actually broke any other law and regardless of whether you're then charged with obstruction of justice. Wow.
posted by LordSludge at 4:49 AM on June 4, 2005


As commented on above this is an example of needless escalation of violence in a contentious situation. The use of the tazer by the police officer seems to show that the officer had little understanding of the situation and how to control it. He paniced and shot an unresisting member of the public unnecessarily. It would be nice to think that this kind of action would be censured in an organisation whose motto is 'to protect and serve'.

Letting her calm down for a few minutes would have helped the situation. It may have also helped the police officer not to sink to her expectations. Maybe he has been watching too much news/propaganda/cops/America's most stupid car chases.

Having studied de-escalation of confrontational situations a little myself, I would say that this officer did not exhibit much in the way of intelligence in dealing with the situation. The outcomes are mostly negative, with the short term benefit that the woman complied with the request to exit the vehicle. As this incident is publicised respect for the police is diminshed whilst fear of violence increases, possibly leading to quicker escalations in the future. The officer is a liabilty to the force.

If there is no training on removing resistant people from vehicles included in police training I would be very supprised.

If there is no training on remaining calm in fraught situations I would be very supprised. Not meeting someone's verbal violence with physical violence would seem an obvious way of keeping a situation managable.

In this case, assuming:
The woman's hands were both visible and empty, except for the mobile phone
The engine of the vehicle had been switched off
Her seatbelt is not buckled

The officers should be able to talk her out of the car, remaining calm and persistent. One could be stood directly in front of the vehicle, blocking it's exit. This would not pose a great threat to his well-being as he would be able to move sideways or over the bonnet, should she resist arrest by attempting to flee in the vehicle. That would be the time for the officer at the side of the vehicle to tazer her.
If she failed to comply to the reasonable request of stepping out of the vehicle and continued to attempt to talk on the mobile phone, then the officer could calmly and politely ask her to stop her telephone conversation, put the phone down (leaving the call open if she wants) and exit the vehicle, explaining that she is being arrested for whatever offence they are charging her with.
If she then continues to refuse to leave the vehicle the officer could point out that she can't stay in the vehicle all day, unless she wants to soil it. Ask for the keys and tell her there is no rush to exit the vehicle as they are going to have to call for it to be towed as it can't be driven legally by her any further.
She could be hand-cuffed to the steering wheel to secure her whilst she is read her rights and has the charges explained.
She could be removed from the vehicle using an arm lock. This does not require pain-compliance and can be completely effective using simple mechanics.
She could be removed from the vehicle by passing the handle end of the baton behind her head, twisting it so that the handle catches her neck and leading her out by the fore-arm, using gravity. This should not result in her having her 'face slammed into the pavement'.
After securing the keys, the officer could sit in the passenger seat to explain the situation to her.

Obviously, I do not know what regulations and guidelines apply to the conduct of police officers in the US in such situations, these are simple thought experiments. The idea would be to keep the violence and danger at a minimum by remaining calm and using calming body language to control the situation.
Reacting with extreme force to any threat may be a quick and decisive way to change the dynamic of the situation, but it does nothing to engender respect in the police force and further serves to alienate them from the general populance. Violence as a threat is more effective if used sparingly and with justification, otherwise it can lead to resentment and a quicker escalation of counter-violence.

It is interesting to think how one would behave in such a situation, if put in the officer's position.

BackwardsHatClub writes "What happens four hours later when those same cops are needed at a hostage situation or a bank robbery or anything?"

These are traffic cops. Not withstanding that, unless this woman is a bit special, she would have to leave the vehicle to use the toilet before four hours were up. Especially if the police officers were keeping her well hydrated. The could sit there and write up the incident, which would take up some time; )
posted by asok at 4:58 AM on June 4, 2005


what goes through my mind is this ... he's holding a taser on her ... what's he going to do if while getting out of the car and pretending to go along, she pulls a real gun on him? ... who's faster? ... who's deadlier? ... i think police are decieving themselves that this is necessarily safer ... and it's going to be very hard for a cop to defend himself from a gun if his hand's already filled with a taser

the other thing that goes through my mind ... private citizens can buy these in some states

i find it interesting that no one referenced the other two stories on the newspaper about a bartender ... and a teenager, neither of which were convicted of any crime but had been tasered

it seems to me that what the police aren't thinking about here is community relations ... ok, so they got a quick compliance from the woman by zapping her ... and by doing so, they created a community wide perception that they're thugs ... it's in the paper now and everyone's talking about it ... was the few minutes they saved worth the cost in community trust and respect? ... will citizens be more cooperative? ... will they be more inclined to vote no on police millages? ... will they be inclined to give the police the benefit of the doubt if there's a fatal shooting?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:26 AM on June 4, 2005


This is one problem with nonlethal weapons. They make some people think that cops using violence to punish people instead of to defend themselves is OK.
posted by Happy Monkey at 6:03 AM on June 4, 2005


Wow, what a thread.

You guys critical of the cop are out of your friggin' minds. The woman refused a lawful order, was in the process of committing a crime and was clearly non-cooperative and possibly combative. She had several chances to comply and refused them all. Did she think he was kidding?

I've been tasered and I've been yanked out of vehicles by big guys with guns -- myself, I'll take the taser. It hurts like hell and you may need to change your pants but you recover quicker than from the bruises caused by a boot holding holding your head to the pavement. That's what happens when a cop tells you to do something and you refuse. Sure, it's dangerous to elctrocute people, but nowhere near as dangerous as refusing to comply with a lawful order.

This woman was not a 'suspect', this woman was actively breaking the law. She's lucky it wasn't much worse -- the officers had no way of knowing if there was a weapon in the vehicle or if she was prone to 'suicide by cop'. This woman *was* a threat to both the police and the public. She is sitting behind the wheel of a two-ton weapon that she has no right to be driving at all.

Zapping her did no damage to the woman, the cops protected themselves and others -- they also protected her from herself. Sounds like a good days work to me.
posted by cedar at 6:14 AM on June 4, 2005


Sheriff Andy Tayor would have handled the situation without a taser.

Deputy Barney Fife would have strongly recommended they use the taser (agreeing with Bugbread's et al. arguments above).
posted by jaronson at 6:25 AM on June 4, 2005


Sheriff Andy Taylor, of course.
posted by jaronson at 6:27 AM on June 4, 2005


If that stupid woman had just obeyed the order to get out of the car she would have been home in time for supper. She got what she deserved for disobeying the cop after a stop. I hope they throw the book at her for driving on a suspended license. Instead she'll probably sue and get a million dollars just for being a stupid loudmouth.
posted by acetonic at 6:36 AM on June 4, 2005


Geez, that woman's quite the drama queen.
posted by alumshubby at 6:46 AM on June 4, 2005


The problem I have with this type of police proceedure is that it encourages the mentality that the cops are at war with the populace and dehumanizes the citizen.

The cops did escalate the situation unnecessarily. They could have taken more time but it looks to me that they've been given a script that they follow to the letter, shoe horning every situation to follow the script instead of modifying the script to the situation.

On the flip side she was rude, stupid, and breaking the law. She apparently didn't watch Chris Rock's "how to not get your ass kicked by the police" instructional video:

( http://ancapistan.typepad.com/the_palmer_periscope/files/a-beating.wmv )

She antagonized the police and got a beating because of it.

Everyone loses.
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 6:53 AM on June 4, 2005


Just a few points to clarify the legal questions LordSludge has raised...

Arrest and custody are functionally equivalent. That is, if you are in police custody but have not been told you are under arrest, you're still functionally under arrest and Miranda applies (as well as the other protections given to those in custody).

Someone who is pulled over for a routine traffic stop (speeding, no seatbelt, etc) is not considered to be in custody or under arrest. See Berkemer v McCarty for details.

However, a traffic stop can "ripen" into custody depending the circumstances. Here, where a gun and taser have been drawn, I would be pretty confident in concluding that this woman was at that point in custody, and functionally under arrest. Of course, once the police discovered the woman was driving with a suspended license they could (I believe) have simply informed her she was under arrest. Not sure why they waited until she was out of the car to do so.

Also, during a traffic stop the police may always order the occupants out of the car. Reasonable suspicion of criminal activity is not required.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:06 AM on June 4, 2005


asok : "As this incident is publicised respect for the police is diminshed whilst fear of violence increases, possibly leading to quicker escalations in the future."

I dunno. For me, the publicisation of the incident seems to lead to slower escalations (or, rather, a decrease in escalations). Who is going to watch this video and think "Cops suck, so next time I'm not going to get out of the car"? It seems more likely to think "Cops suck, so I'm going to get out of the car".

asok : "If there is no training on removing resistant people from vehicles included in police training I would be very supprised."

As would I. But there is the possibility that taser use is what they are trained to do in that situation. There is the possibility that it is because of training, not in spite or absence of it, that the taser was used. Just a possibility.

pyramid termite : "he's holding a taser on her ... what's he going to do if while getting out of the car and pretending to go along, she pulls a real gun on him? ... who's faster? ... who's deadlier?"

Seems to me...he's got the taser aimed at her...She doesn't have a gun aimed at him...So if while getting out of the car, she pulled a gun, he'd taser her...He's faster...It doesn't matter who's deadlier: if the person with the gun is immobilised or disarmed, it doesn't matter who is deadly.

But, other than that, I agree on the points you raised.

jaronson : "Deputy Barney Fife would have strongly recommended they use the taser (agreeing with Bugbread's et al. arguments above)."

You've got to nip it. In the bud. Nip it in the bud.
posted by Bugbread at 7:28 AM on June 4, 2005


As I am not an African-American, and I have not had to deal with harrassment by law enforcement officials as an African-American, I refuse to judge this woman.
posted by tpoh.org at 7:38 AM on June 4, 2005


So if while getting out of the car, she pulled a gun, he'd taser her

he'd probably be able to do that first ... but what do tasers do? ... cause involuntary muscle motions ... and if she's got her finger around the trigger ... bang!

it's a dangerous situation ... i still think cops are looking at tasers as some kind of magic weapon ...
posted by pyramid termite at 7:47 AM on June 4, 2005


As I am not a law enforcement official, and I have not had to deal with stupidly obstinate behavior by "entitled" people as a law enforcement official, I refuse to judge these cops.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:48 AM on June 4, 2005


For all the armchair know-it-alls on this thread: go directly, if you can, to the New York City Police Museum and sign up, if you can, for the virtual training session which gives you the chance to react - as an "armed" officer to adrenaline-pumping real-time scenarios. We went with our teenaged sons - who initially had the usual fluctuating "cops as heroes/pigs" mindset and it taught them - for one blessed afternoon - to think.
Which is more than I can say about cedar's hairy-palmed effort. And kudos to odinsdream for spot on observations.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:16 AM on June 4, 2005


I am greatly confused by the status of the taser. I was under the impression it was meant as a non-lethal weapon of self-defence, not as a method of enforcing swift compliance with a police officer's demands.

If you can just taser somebody for refusing an order, why not just allow a cop to punch somebody in the face? Hell, pistol-whipping is rarely fatal so why not just pistol-whip a suspect who is resisting arrest? It strikes me these would be very effective ways of ensuring the subject obeys a police-officer's lawful orders.

I'm sure if this woman had been smacked in the face she'd have got out of the car pretty quick...
posted by kaemaril at 8:50 AM on June 4, 2005


Essence of the problem: he let her attitude and stupidity get at him or he leveraged it to enhance his chances of tuning her up with 50 kilowatts. The woman was an obnoxious dramabitch, and that was obvious from her first interaction. Seems to me he escalated when she was most resistant, which calls his judgement about force into question.
He could have crisply explained what was going to happen now that a simple stop procedure is now showing she's got a suspended license and she's not cooperating. He could have let her rant for a bit, with him saying nothing, then when she ran out of steam (dramabitches do), say, "Stay where you are. Put both your hands on the wheel where I can see them", and communicated the situation back from his car with his backup staying nearer her vehicle.
Give the driver maybe 30 seconds to cool off and think about what she was getting herself into. Come back, "I've stopped you for speeding and a light out. Your driving privilege was revoked on (x date). Now, the next step is for you to get out of the car."
And yeah, it could have ended with a tasing anyway if she resisted as she did at first. And she would have deserved it.
The cop was technically within procedure but he took advantage of her assholery and IMO went past the limit of what a better cop might have done. Easy for me to say.
posted by nj_subgenius at 8:58 AM on June 4, 2005


odinsdream, asok, bugbread: You're all talking about the officer's training. Did you miss the part of the web site where one of the department's training officers explains that this is exactly what their training would demand, and why it is better than using other kinds of force?
posted by grouse at 9:02 AM on June 4, 2005


Those of you who think the cops should have lifted her from the car. I have a few questions. 1. Do you think this woman wouldn't have struggled?
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 3:11 AM PST on June 4 [!]


Actually she did struggle when the officer tried to arrest her. She pulled away. He put away the cuffs and only then did he pull out the taser.
posted by jikel_morten at 9:17 AM on June 4, 2005


I cannot believe I'm about to wade into this. But here goes. If anyone addressed these points above, I'm sorry to be repetitive.

1. The pain of a taser lasts for five seconds, not the eternity of wailing the woman put on for the camera. The police officers have been shot with a taser as part of their training, so they know.
2. A taser would be far less likely to hurt someone than a nightstick. I would much rather be tased than beaten or pinned.
3. I would much rather a police officer use a taser to subdue someone who was resisting arrest (and being under arrest does not mean that the officer has said "you are under arrest") than for the officer to be tempted to physical violence to subdue, especially someone smaller than he is.
4. The police officer pulled the driver over, retrieved her papers (she was already mouthing off to him), discovered her suspended license, returned to the car, asked her to step out of the vehicle, then warned her five more times before he tased her.
5. Tasers are a magic weapon: they can enforce legitimate compliance without inflicting lasting harm on the recipient of the force. Potential for abuse? Sure, but these cops weren't going around shooting homeless people for fun.

The only problems I see with this situation are:

1. The taser looks just like a gun. That is unnecessarily provocative if the taser is a compliance device.
2. The recording device in the car was not of sufficient resolution and could not record sound clearly enough to record the details of the event (such as when the driver allegedly took a swing at the officer).

As far the argument of taking more time, it's an empty one. How long? Five seconds? Five minutes? Should they call in a negotiator? Should they have allowed the driver more time to lose her cool and speed off? In other words, should we ask a police officer to be prescient and try to predict when the situation is about to become "too dangerous" or should we ask the police officer to end a confrontation as quickly as possible?

I'm moderate politically, and I'm very sensitive to charges of undue police power. I was appalled that the Supreme Court, for example, gave police the right to demand to see identifying papers during a traffice stop. I do think there are some bad apple cops who abuse their status. But I've watched and re-watched and re-watched the stop from beginning to end, and I cannot see anything I would have done differently.
posted by socratic at 9:19 AM on June 4, 2005


Which is more than I can say about cedar's hairy-palmed effort.

Yeah, well your charming little museum doesn't include the possibility of someone actually shooting back or initiating a chase scenario that endangers the public. That kinda negates the point, wouldn't you say?

Hairy palmed or not, I am of the opinion that if a criminal refuses an order he/she is putting himself at risk. I do not think the use of non-lethal force to remove this woman from her vehicle was undue force and the officer followed established procedure. I'm not prepared to say that the procedure cannot stand some improvement, but your quarrel should not be with the cop who did *exactly* what he was supposed to.

Every attempt was made to reason with this woman and she was given every opportunity to comply. I don't know what world you live in, but where I'm from people do crazy shit all the time and getting this woman out from behind that wheel as quickly as possible was the officers only choice. Short of yanking her out by her head (which I doubt would please you any more), I'm hard pressed to see what options he had.
posted by cedar at 9:25 AM on June 4, 2005


If this sort of behavior by cops is OK, there aren't enough cops getting killed at traffic stops.

There are very few situations that can't be made worse by adding a few cops. This was clearly one of them.
posted by warbaby at 9:25 AM on June 4, 2005


Can we please please please stop calling the taser non-lethal? It is less-lethal, but it has killed many people. When you tase someone, you take the chance of killing them. Think about that when you watch this video.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:31 AM on June 4, 2005


"Jesus wore jackboots"

The post was a peurile, dorky attempt to force a conversation about the "gestapo" police, and it's failed miserably.

The woman—refusing to exit the car, acting persecuted, refusing to leave her phone conversation, and driving on a suspended license—was naive to suspect the police were bluffing about the taser, which they warned her of repeatedly. This was not a Rodney King incident, and bringing race into it was particularly convenient & cowardly. Watch COPS sometime to see all the white guys get dragged around by the hair, tossed into police cruisers, chased around and pounced on.

She will be fine, and she'll get the charges she begged for: driving on a suspended license & refusing arrest.

No sympathy for this woman. None. Sorry.

The arrest wasn't for speeding, it was for driving with a suspended license. I can tell you, unfortunately from personal experience, that in many places that is a required arrest.

Exactly.
posted by dhoyt at 9:34 AM on June 4, 2005


Optimus Chyme - A nightstick is potentially lethal. Handcuffs are potentially lethal. A 3,500-pound car is potentially lethal. I think most of the taser-related deaths were due to high levels of drugs in the systems of the deceased. If there was even a 1% or 0.1% chance that a shot from a taser would kill you, the police wouldn't routinely shoot officers with them as part of training.
posted by socratic at 9:36 AM on June 4, 2005


he's holding a taser on her ... what's he going to do if while getting out of the car and pretending to go along, she pulls a real gun on him? ... who's faster? ... who's deadlier?

Oh yeah! And what if she's on the phone calling in an air strike? Better just pop the bitch.

I really whish that the next video posted here would be of one of you assholes here, who rationalize the cop's actions, screaming on the ground and being tazered because you were a millisecond late in getting out of the car.
posted by c13 at 9:38 AM on June 4, 2005


And how could this entire thread be missing the part of the story that this woman flew to Jamaica two days later, participated in a beauty contest, and, by her own admission, placed in the "top 100" of 8000 participants? (the two small marks on her arm were the result of her pulling the barbs out herself and not letting the police do it.) She wouldn't have been able to participate if the cops had (justifiably) yanked her forcibly out of the car, broken her arm, bruised her up, but spared her the "torture" of being harmlessly tased.
posted by socratic at 9:45 AM on June 4, 2005


Obviously fake.

Er... damn hippies.

Wait, I mean... the cops have sewn the wind and they are going to reap the fucking whirlwind.

I give up.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 9:49 AM on June 4, 2005


Ten months after the incident, she has two small marks on her arms from the probes. She says she placed in the top 100 of 8,000 contestants in Jamaica.

Wtf? Thanks for the lik socratic. Weird.
posted by jikel_morten at 9:52 AM on June 4, 2005


Hey, cedar.
My "charming little museum" experience did precisely what your peculiarly limited concept of options apparently nixes. Scenarios when the lightly restrained scofflaw suddenly produces a gun? Check. Scenarios when the heavy-handed cop provokes the wrong reaction? Check. The stunningly educational aspect of the NY Police Museum's virtual training exhibit is it forces you to ramp up your reactions - and immediately see the result - which included the crazy shit car chase you describe.
Furthermore, following your logic that this was the cop's only option - are we going to see this video used as an ideal real case study? Only in your hairy-palmed world:)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:54 AM on June 4, 2005


I really whish that the next video posted here would be of one of you assholes here, who rationalize the cop's actions, screaming on the ground and being tazered because you were a millisecond late in getting out of the car.

I'd venture a guess that most people who don't think the cop acted in a punishable or inexcusable manner would have no problem either getting out of the car the first time they were ordered (or threatened, if you prefer), or (if there was some reason why they were unable to get out of the car right then) talking to the officer and telling him why they were not getting out immediately, instead of ignoring him. While it's unfortunate that she got tazed, I don't feel worried now that the same thing is going to happen to me. I don't drive on a suspended liscence, and I follow legal orders made by officers who stop me. This video shows me nothing that would lead me to believe that the things I do are going to get me tazed.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:56 AM on June 4, 2005


jikel_morten - What made me laugh was that the training officers name is Goodwin... and since this thread was Godwinned before it even started.. well...
posted by socratic at 9:58 AM on June 4, 2005


This video shows me nothing that would lead me to believe that the things I do are going to get me tazed.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:56 AM PST on June 4 [!]


You or any reasonable person. Co-operate and be tazer free. He's not asking her to do anything unusual.
posted by jikel_morten at 10:04 AM on June 4, 2005


...a millisecond late in getting out of the car.

Focus here, son.

Reading comprehension is your friend and this simply isn't true. Watch the video and start counting the milliseconds. Let me know when you hit 30,000.

It would be really nice to demonize the police here, but you guys have the wrong case. There are actual instances of brutality and undue force happening all the time, this is not one of them. Set up all the strawmen you want but it boils down to a stupid, and criminal, woman refusing lawful instructions and facing the consequences.

Tell me, who got hurt here? Where is your victim?

Optimus, any use of force has the potential to be lethal. How often do you hear of someone getting punched in a bar and hitting the floor wrong with fatal consequences? Out of the options available this wasn't a bad one and certainly is likely to be less physically damaging than a tussle on the pavement.

If this sort of behavior by cops is OK, there aren't enough cops getting killed at traffic stops.

This is beneath contempt.

Your a miserable little piece of shit. You must be -- only a miserable little piece of shit would lack the self-awareness to know how distasteful and foul posting something like is. I started to explain why your a miserable little piece of shit, but decided it was pointless. I figure you'll just write me off as a pig loving fascist -- Fight the Power, baby. Fight the Power. But in the meantime, hope like hell none of your children ever get lost, 'cause who you gonna call to come look for them?

On preview: Yes, Jody, clearly 'virtual' training of civilians in a museum is the equivalent of a world where the guns have bullets in them and the cars run over children. I hear they're thinking about replacing boot camp with Halo 2.
posted by cedar at 10:05 AM on June 4, 2005


What surprises me about the whole damn thread is that there are people who think that anyone who believes that the cop went well beyond the line is somehow on the woman's side.
So, to leave things clear from the beginning: that woman is a spoiled drama queen and a couple good slappings as a child would have probably saved her from this tasering as an adult.
This said, I'm damn glad police forces this side of the Atlantic haven't been buying Tasers. The obvious solution for this situation was to wait it out. Was she resisting authority? Yes. Did she deserve punishment? Yes, and that's what criminal courts are for (and I don't think they'd have condemned her to electrocution, even in Florida). She would have wasted a few minutes of their time, but she would have spent rather longer in a cell. Only explanation I can find for the officers' trigger-happiness is that they felt threatened in that neighborhood.

But really, the attitude of both cop and perp is the sort of thing that gives America (and not just Florida) a bad name abroad.
posted by Skeptic at 10:07 AM on June 4, 2005


And of course you cannot possibly imagine, if a threshold for using a tazer (or any other form of force) is lowered THAT far, that next time it might be you? You might have a valid lisence, but you're slow getting out of the car, the cops may have a case of mistaken identity, or it may have nothing to do with moving vehicles altogether. Do you really prefer to get tazed "just in case"?

The whole incident, from the time the cop walked up to the car to the time he tazed her lasted only 36 seconds. You really going to tell me that his patience has been tried beyond its limits?

On preview: Cedar, you shitmonkey, you do realize that the only reason you can call me "son" and still have front teeth is because we're on the net, right?
posted by c13 at 10:15 AM on June 4, 2005


1 minute and 20 seconds after saying "I'm good, she's just got an attitude" the officer pulls the trigger on the tazer. 35 seconds after asking her to step out of the vehicle he is pulling the trigger. She is dailing the phone as the officer approaches. She reports what she sees happening. probably afraid of getting abused. Self fulfilling prophecy in action. I think we all agree she was stupid.

I go with everything asok said on this. There are so many ways this could have been handled better.

bugbread- Its a crapshoot as to whether this makes people more compliant or less. Some people get belligerent when they are afraid, some get docile, some get stupid.

Socrates- that is 5 seconds of wailing. Does seem longer.
posted by pointilist at 10:15 AM on June 4, 2005


pointilist - I really don't want this to get into a counting contest here (heh, this thread is already so far gone though...) but I counted about 9 seconds of wailing after the first taser shot and a good half minute or so (I stopped counting after a while) after the second one when she was on the ground.
posted by socratic at 10:23 AM on June 4, 2005


These guys should be suspended without pay. This is just shit police work. Imagine if NYC cops did this and went around tasering everybody, from the drunks to the dealers, who disagreed with them? There'd be a huge outcry. Tasers, and in fact physical force in general, are only meant to de-escalate a situation which is already or has the potential to become violent and endanger others. They aren't meant as tools for persuasion. It's obvious that these guys just didn't know how to deal with the situation, probably because they lack the experience, and so, like kids, they resorted to violence.

And jikel_morten, you're an idiot. It's quite obvious that the cops, as well as any reasonable human being, simply would've waited for the women to get off the phone. If you've ever seen a cop deal with homeless people this should be clear. Cops aren't in the business of roughing people up. If there was any way, any way at all, to end this peacefully and without violence the cops should've pursued that path.
posted by nixerman at 10:23 AM on June 4, 2005


bugbread -

Ok, then, this may also be a big component in the gap occuring here: any times I or a friend have been pulled over, it included a "get out of the car". So I just put that together with "show license and registration". If it's in fact unusual, I can see where a lot of the divide here is happening.

I've been pulled over twice, once for speeding in upstate NY and once for an illegal left turn in Manhattan. In neither case was I asked to get out of my car, and in the second case, when I got out to check on a bike that was attached to the rear of my vehicle while they were doing their computer check, I was yelled at to get back into my car. In this case, McNevins initially tells her to close the door. Same idea of containment.
posted by thejoshu at 10:24 AM on June 4, 2005


You might have a valid lisence, but you're slow getting out of the car, the cops may have a case of mistaken identity, or it may have nothing to do with moving vehicles altogether. Do you really prefer to get tazed "just in case"?

Are you really this dense?

You might have monkeys fly out of your butt too. Butt monkeys have about as much bearing on this case as your scenario above. Cops are not exactly running around zapping people at random and there was no mistaken identity here. There was a criminal who was at the very least non-compliant and possibly resisting. This is what Tasers were made for.

Cedar, you shitmonkey, you do realize that the only reason you can call me "son" and still have front teeth is because we're on the net, right?

Whatever, Zippy.

I call you 'son' in the most harmless sense of the word. Pretty much the same way I call my eleven year old child, 'son'. It seems appropiatte since by all indications your thought processes are on the same level.
posted by cedar at 10:25 AM on June 4, 2005


thejoshu - To expand on your point (I think... it's getting muddy in here), she was not asked to get out of the car because of a traffic stop. She was asked to get out of the car to be placed under arrest (formally) for driving with a suspended license and to remove her control of a deadly weapon (her car).
posted by socratic at 10:28 AM on June 4, 2005


Socrates- that is 5 seconds of wailing. Does seem longer.
posted by pointilist at 10:15 AM PST on June 4 [!]


Maybe it seems longer because it was closer to 40...
posted by jikel_morten at 10:29 AM on June 4, 2005


And of course you cannot possibly imagine, if a threshold for using a tazer (or any other form of force) is lowered THAT far, that next time it might be you? You might have a valid lisence, but you're slow getting out of the car, the cops may have a case of mistaken identity, or it may have nothing to do with moving vehicles altogether. Do you really prefer to get tazed "just in case"?

No, but I'll wait till I see a video of officers using tasers in a "just in case" manner before I start getting worried about it. If there's a video of cops using a tazer on a person who has committed no crime and without giving that person warning and a chance to avoid tazing, show it.

I'm not saying inappropriate tazing doesn't exist, I'm sure it does. I'm saying that this instance isn't remotely analagous to the scary situations you're presenting.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:32 AM on June 4, 2005


ok- stupid and a crybaby. I would only cry while I was actively being hurt. Anything more must be showmanship.
posted by pointilist at 10:36 AM on June 4, 2005


Hey, ho cedar.
Since we are all armchair arguing anyway - might it unblock your thinking to know that real cops use these virual scenarios in their own training? Surely you must know that?
Also, didn't anyone hear the cop saying something sneery about the woman deciding to "play with" the officers - and she gasps out that she wasn't playing - in a tone that was suddenly unmistakably different to her previous understandable but excessive theatrics?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:36 AM on June 4, 2005


cedar, "possibly resisting"? What exactly does this mean? Resisting arrest has a very specific meaning and it clearly doesn't apply in this case. And do you really think the police can zap any 'non-compliant' person? If a wino refuses to put away a bottle or a protester refuses to leave the area, the police should be allowed to deploy force to backup their demands? And this is actually why cops in these situations will use the threat of arrest and not violence. Theatning people with violence only encourages them to be violent. Usually it's: do X or you're under arrest, and then begin the arrest attempt. What happens next becomes purely a question of resisting arrest. Policemen aren't thugs. They can't go around telling people to do X 'or else'. These guys are just terrible cops and they should be suspended.
posted by nixerman at 10:39 AM on June 4, 2005


Well, cedar, the fact that you don't understand that calling someone "son" is offensive, unless they have half of your DNA or you're a preacher pretty much explains your position on the topic at hand. That you think of your opponets as kids and yourself as a wise old adult, only confirms it. Very typical Beta dog attitude-- roll on your back and tuck the tail in front of the Alpha, help him to keep everone below you in their places..
In that sense, you're right. The cops did a swell job.

On preview: 23skidoo, I was referring to the whole he's holding a taser on her ... what's he going to do if while getting out of the car and pretending to go along, she pulls a real gun on him? ... who's faster? ... who's deadlier? thing.
posted by c13 at 10:43 AM on June 4, 2005


c13 and cedar - The pair of you best stop shouting or swearing or I will break out the pepper spray and then you'll both be sorry. Grow up the pair of you.

/goes back to watching videos of people being tasered on Fugly.
posted by longbaugh at 10:44 AM on June 4, 2005


nixerman - No, this guy is a terrible cop who should have been fired.

But really, how was she not resisiting arrest? She refused to leave the vehicle; she refused to hang up the phone; she refused to put her hands behind her back. In short, she refused to follow lawfully given instructions for her to comply with her detention. Arrest doesn't start with any magic words.
posted by socratic at 10:44 AM on June 4, 2005


There is *no* reason for the cop to tase her the second time...she is on the ground recovering from an intense shock and poses *zero* threat to the officers at this point. I have been hit by 50kV before (up to 250kV) and while the pain stops once the shock is over, the after effects (numbness, lack of muscle control) last longer.

Can anyone give a valid reason why he used the taser the second time? Is a 22 year old woman flopping on the ground that much of a threat to two rather large policemen? While its true she isn't complying with his request to put her arms behind her back, they could have easily done it themselves (without the taser).
posted by gren at 10:45 AM on June 4, 2005


Usually it's: do X or you're under arrest, and then begin the arrest attempt. What happens next becomes purely a question of resisting arrest.

"Get out of the car so that you can be arrested, or you're under arrest!"
posted by 23skidoo at 10:45 AM on June 4, 2005


Oops, meant to preview again... anyway, out of fairness to "this guy" I mentioned above, his story is slightly different and more sympathetic.

Just goes to show that there are, in fact, two sides.
posted by socratic at 10:45 AM on June 4, 2005


Well said, Skeptic. It's a despicable argument tactic being used in the thread...painting those who disagree with the tasing as somehow on the woman's side. You said it better than I could, but I agree completely.
posted by odinsdream at 10:47 AM on June 4, 2005


cedar, "possibly resisting"? What exactly does this mean? Resisting arrest has a very specific meaning and it clearly doesn't apply in this case.

I'm unclear after watching the video whether or not she swung at the other officer. It's also hard to see if she was combative... that's why I said 'possibly'. It's hard to use the threat of arrest against someone who won't get out of the damn car to be arrested. I think the threat was pretty clear, just not very effective.

nixerman, I agree that cops can't go around telling people to do stuff for no reason, but that isn't the case here. She had been identified and found to be driving with a suspended license.
posted by cedar at 10:48 AM on June 4, 2005


Longbaugh, I was just.. AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!! STOP THAT SHIT!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
posted by c13 at 10:51 AM on June 4, 2005


gren - Can anyone give a valid reason why he used the taser the second time? Is a 22 year old woman flopping on the ground that much of a threat to two rather large policemen? While its true she isn't complying with his request to put her arms behind her back, they could have easily done it themselves (without the taser).

I'll take a stab at that - she could have a gun tucked in her trousers - the cops haven't patted her down at this point and she is refusing to place her hands in the position requested (to ensure she does not go for a concealed weapon). They shocked her the second time to make her cooperate and to prevent risk to themselves and other people (whether the threat is real or not is unimportant).

Traffic cops approach every stop with the possibility that they might be shot by a driver or passenger. See the link I posted earlier. I drove for only two weeks in California and the first thing anyone told me about driving in the USA was absolutely do not under any circumstances fuck with the traffic police.
posted by longbaugh at 10:53 AM on June 4, 2005


c13, if it makes you feel any better, I'm sorry I upset you. I really didn't mean anything by it and would very much like to keep my teeth.

Now, maybe you would like to address why you felt comfortable calling everyone you disagree with an 'asshole' and conflating the actual time involved with 'milliseconds'?
posted by cedar at 10:55 AM on June 4, 2005


or maybe you could both drop it and discuss the link. Please. Your hatred and the darkness within you only makes the JRun stronger.
posted by longbaugh at 10:58 AM on June 4, 2005


longbaugh - The not fucking with the traffic police comes, of course, from the fact that there are 300 million of us and only a few tens of thousands of them.

Are all of us bad? No.
Are all of us going to pull a gun? No.
Are the consequences for an officer bad if we do pull a gun? Yes.
Does it, then, make sense for the officer to err on the side of caution? Yes.
Does the taser represent a way to do that without inflicting lasting physical harm on the offender? Yes.
Do I wish we lived in a world where the taser wasn't necessary? Yes, but the lady in that video shows why we do not; and she's a fairly mild case.
posted by socratic at 10:58 AM on June 4, 2005


So far, my favorite comment about this entire sad affair came from, of all places, Fark, where this thread was linked days ago (like so many of the recent posts on Metafilter). "She was driving an SUV while talking on a cellphone. Tazing was too good for her." Equally valuable from the same thread "This woman needed to watch Chris Rock's video on how not to get beat up by the police"
posted by jonson at 11:07 AM on June 4, 2005


1) Our fascination with technology and security.

2) The joke about France/USA: the French elevator guy on the Eiffel Tower wants to go up and down all day optimally with no visitors in his elevator (to work without doing anything) and the American wants to be in an elevator with no elevator man, just a technologically complex machine that can do what he wants without hassle or human understanding.
posted by faux ami at 11:22 AM on June 4, 2005


Ok, cedar, it was 30 seconds. I guess this makes everything that much different.
The reason I called you all assholes is because I really do think that your "fuck that dumb bitch, she got what was coming to her" attitude assholish.
First of all, you all don't know why the cop tazed her. From the video it is pretty obvious she wasn't posing an imminent threat to anybody. Maybe the cop felt threatened; if so, such a healthy imagination is a detriment to his work and the well being of the others. But maybe he wanted to try out the new toy. To me the fact that he could not wait more than 30-odd seconds tells that the latter case is more likely to be closer to truth.
Secondly, what is this whole thing about her going to Jamaica supposed to be? Why was this brought up? So, just because she was able to lead her normal life after the incident everything is fine?
And finally, to answer socratic, the cops are there to serve and protect us. It's not THEM vs US. Being a cop is a dangerous job sometimes, but it should not reflect on us.
I don't want my mother, for example, to be tazed, or dragged out of the car because she was too slow in following the cop's requests. Even if she gets pulled over for speeding, or having an expired tag. Why? Because, first of all, she doesn't understand English very well. Secondly, sometimes she forgets to wear her hearing aid. Thirdly, she doesn't even know who Chris Rock is. And I don't think that my reaction to her being tazed because the cop encountered some OTHER bad people before would be that unique.
posted by c13 at 11:31 AM on June 4, 2005


longbauch - I'll take a stab at that - she could have a gun tucked in her trousers - the cops haven't patted her down at this point and she is refusing to place her hands in the position requested (to ensure she does not go for a concealed weapon). They shocked her the second time to make her cooperate and to prevent risk to themselves and other people (whether the threat is real or not is unimportant).

Sorry, I really can't accept that. She is incapicitated lying on the ground...two cops can't secure a woman lying on the ground? Sure, maybe she had a gun on her...so why not get her arms and cuff her? Tasing her the second time leads to them doing exactly that, so it really wasn't necessary...the cop with the taser just didn't want to put it away/wanted to use it the second time.
posted by gren at 11:39 AM on June 4, 2005


It's cause they look funny when they flop around on the ground screaming, isn't it.
Hehe.. flopping like a funny floppy fish.. hehe.
posted by Balisong at 11:43 AM on June 4, 2005


btw, a cop friend tells me they get people on the ground expressly because from that position you can not easily pull out a weapon or attack.
posted by gren at 11:44 AM on June 4, 2005


gren - my example is just that - it's not how it went down - it's a possibility. Ask your cop friend if he would take a chance with an individual who was not following instructions, even after being shocked once. She wasn't incapacitated either, she was refusing to put her arms behind her back to allow the cops to handcuff her without her stabbing them with a needle full of HIV+ blood, stabbing them with a knife or shooting them in the balls or whichever other fear of the week the individual subscribes to.

Cops stay alive because they treat every encounter as if it's a lethal one.
posted by longbaugh at 11:56 AM on June 4, 2005


She wasn't incapacitated either, she was refusing to put her arms behind her back to allow the cops to handcuff her without her stabbing them with a needle full of HIV+ blood, stabbing them with a knife or shooting them in the balls or whichever other fear of the week the individual subscribes to.

She was screaming that she couldn't do that, but of course she was lying. Noone looses muscle control after being shot with 50kV.
posted by c13 at 12:07 PM on June 4, 2005


Ok, cedar, it was 30 seconds. I guess this makes everything that much different.

It does make a difference. Thirty seconds can be a very long time, certainly long enough to say, "Hey, I gotta go. The cop is pointing a gun looking thing at me."

The reason I called you all assholes is because I really do think that your "fuck that dumb bitch, she got what was coming to her" attitude assholish.

I don't think anyone called her a "dumb bitch" and as far as getting what was coming to her, hell yeah. Aside from that, as far as I'm concerned the story and link aren't about her. They are about the actions of the cop.

First of all, you all don't know why the cop tazed her.

Yeah, I do. He tazed her because he told her to do something and said he would taze her if she didn't. She didn't.

From the video it is pretty obvious she wasn't posing an imminent threat to anybody.

She is non-compliant, combative(?) and refusing to follow simple instructions. She is in the act of committing a crime. She has control of a vehicle.

That's a threat in my book.

But maybe he wanted to try out the new toy.

Nonsense. He knows what they do, he was tazed (is that even a word?) in training.

Secondly, what is this whole thing about her going to Jamaica supposed to be?

Well, at the very least it shows the terrible abuse she suffered hasn't hindered her enjoyment of life. Once again, where's your victim?

Overlooked in all this babble is the simple fact that no harm was done. She's fine and not driving. The cop is fine (and probably in a world of shit) and doing his job today.

Victim? Can I get a victim?

And finally, to answer socratic, the cops are there to serve and protect us. It's not THEM vs US. Being a cop is a dangerous job sometimes, but it should not reflect on us.

It's a dangerous job because of us. Well, maybe not 'us' in the you and I sense, but because of the people who drive around without licenses and fail to comply with simple requests when they get caught.

I don't want my mother, for example, to be tazed, or dragged out of the car because she was too slow in following the cop's requests. Even if she gets pulled over for speeding, or having an expired tag. Why? Because, first of all, she doesn't understand English very well. Secondly, sometimes she forgets to wear her hearing aid.

I don't want your mother driving around without a license yakking on a cell phone if she isn't able to remember her hearing aid (if she can't hear a cop yelling in her face she also can't hear the emergency vehicle behind her).
posted by cedar at 12:10 PM on June 4, 2005


Thank you, cedar, for providing a perfect illustration to my point. Inability to even imagine yourself and someone close to you (i.e. YOUR mother) in a similar circumstances is exactly what I call assholish.
posted by c13 at 12:23 PM on June 4, 2005


c13 said it.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 12:26 PM on June 4, 2005


Dude, I don't want MY mother driving around without a license and hearing aid. I guess that makes me an asshole. Funny, I would have considered it looking out for her best interests.

More to the point, of course I can imagine myself in a similar situation. Even better, I can remember a similar situation. I can also acknowledge that I got exactly what I deserved.

At least my mother doesn't wear army boots.
posted by cedar at 12:32 PM on June 4, 2005


Inability to even imagine yourself and someone close to you (i.e. YOUR mother) in a similar circumstances is exactly what I call assholish.

I can't imagine myself in similar circumstances. If stopped for a crime that I knew I committed, I would not ignore an officer when he gave me instructions. None of my friends or family would either. How do we get from "I behave differently from the woman in this video" to "I am an asshole"?
posted by 23skidoo at 12:39 PM on June 4, 2005


Well, nevermind then.
As I said, I'm waiting for a video.
posted by c13 at 12:44 PM on June 4, 2005


I read the majority of this thread late last night and thought I'd stay out of it, but on reading the additional posts this morning, I can't help but add my thoughts. They boil down to two issues: Respect and rashness.

I have never been arrested and have received only one ticket. Every interaction I've ever had with a cop has been entirely respectful and calm. I agree with the assertion that it is is incumbent on the suspect/criminal to remain relatively docile when dealing with police.

However, most of those who seem to be making this point seem to be saying "don't fuck with cops." The idea seems to be that police officers have carte blanche to beat the shit out of you, so just don't fuck with them. My view on this is quite the opposite. I simply believe that if both parties offer each other respect, the odds of a peaceful, orderly resolution are much greater. I do not believe that I am a subject of the police and necessarily their inferior. I believe in mutual respect.

This does not mean, however, that if one party is not respectful, the other's obligation is removed. In this case, while the woman in question was not respectful - quite the opposite - the officer was not respectful of her either. He was smug and supercilious and quite clearly (I thought) convinced that he was the law and she was beneath him. You could hear it in his responses to her (admittedly rambling) statements in the car and in his conversation over the radio. It was also evident in the speed with which he transitioned from asking for information to screaming orders at her.

None of this excuses her behavior, although I am entirely sympathetic to her fear of being assaulted by the police - none of us can claim any knowledge of her background, but she was clearly panicked and trying to explain into the phone to a "witness" the circumstances. To me, that was indicative of fear, and not of aggression. She was not "yammering away" talking about the news of the day or what she bought at Macy's, she was demonstrating abject fear.

When he pointed the taser at her shortly after (I won't re-watch the clip, it was somewhat gruesome) she screamed about "he's pointing a gun at me." Personally, I can excuse her not understanding that it was a non-lethal weapon that was "merely" indescribably painful. From drawing the weapon - which I believe was pre-mature anyway - to firing it, he gave her roughly 30 seconds.

Again, though I seriously doubt the reasoning behind his decision to draw the weapon that quickly, there is absolutely no reason he could not have kept it trained on her for a few minutes, before firing it. He would certainly have had the opportunity to fire before she could draw a weapon or start driving, etc.

The argument that 1 minute equals 5 minutes equals 4 hours is simply ludicrous. The woman was completely panic-stricken from thinking she had a gun with live rounds pointed at her, and under those circumstances, I can completely see why she might have a hard time retaining bladder control, let alone intelligent hearing, reasoning and thought.

Although I reiterate my belief that the weapon was drawn too quickly, it remains true that we couldn't see everything that transpired. However, had a gun been drawn or had she truly struck the off-screen officer violently, I believe we'd have been able to see some reaction on the part of the arresting officer. Regardless, a few minutes of calmer direction, debate and discussion might very well have coaxed her out without the firing of a shot and without relinquishing control of the situation.

Essentially, I'm convinced that the woman was rude and could have gotten out quicker. However, that's not a criminal offense. It seems quite clear that the tasering was prompted more by her reluctance to exist than a desparate fear of a driver with a suspended license.

Like c13, and despite being a relatively calm person, I can see myself or my parents or my friends - English-speaking and otherwise - panicking and not reacting rationally within the first thirty seconds or so. I can also see any of those people - myself included - being calmed down by the officer, even with his weapon drawn, over a period of a few minutes, before exiting peaceably. The officer owed it to her and to the badge he wears to make every effort to not use force and I think it's evident that he did not.

And to those of you who found the second tasing also justified because - to paraphrase - "the bitch wouldn't stop moaning," I'm saddened by your lack of humanity. She was a woman, writhing on the ground in agony less than a minute after receiving 50,000 volts of what has been called "indescribable pain." To assume that her moaning is masking an attempt to palm a weapon is the worst sort of backwards reasoning. She was on the ground because she was put there. She said again and again that she could not move. Tasing her was completely inappropriate.

And the idea that she's somehow at fault for removing the barbs - said a few times in the thread - is insane. If something shoots 50,000 volts through me, I'm going to rip it the fuck out.

It's not a matter of waiting four hours, and it's not a matter of never using a taser. It's a matter of using it as a last resort, or at least a relatively LATER one. Waiting ten minutes (an arbitrary number, yes, but one which which I think allows for a bit of cooling off). At a certain point the tasing becomes increasingly reasonable, but the two minutes allotted in this case was a long ways from reaching that point. And if the police force in that county can't spare that kind of time - ten minutes - they need more officers.
posted by Sinner at 12:44 PM on June 4, 2005


23skidoo,
It's called "empathy", a civilised impulse, cornerstone of the sort of world we'd prefer to live in etc etc - and it's noticeably lacking from the "where's the victim, duh" stupidity from cedar et al.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 12:46 PM on June 4, 2005


It seems quite clear that the tasering was prompted more by her reluctance to EXIT (not "exist") than a desparate fear of a driver with a suspended license.

posted by Sinner at 12:52 PM on June 4, 2005


c13 - She was screaming that she couldn't do that, but of course she was lying. Noone looses muscle control after being shot with 50kV.

Actually it's pretty painful whilst it's happening but otherwise afterwards you can still move so yes, IMHO (which might well be wrong) she was taking the piss. Nobody screams that much after being tasered. And yes - I have spent the last thirty minutes watching videos of people being zapped*.

*purely as an evidence gathering mission I can assure you.
posted by longbaugh at 12:55 PM on June 4, 2005


cedar, all your nonsense might be tolerable if you had any sort of coherent point. c13 is right; you're just an asshole.

She is non-compliant, combative(?) and refusing to follow simple instructions. She is in the act of committing a crime. She has control of a vehicle.

There's that nonsense-word again: "non-compliant." What does it mean to be non-compliant? Even so, do you think police officers have the right to zap any person who's "non-compliant"? Maybe you'd also support the old police tactic of hosing down Civil Rights protesters? Combative? Yeah. She's really threatning them from the inside of a car.

Overlooked in all this babble is the simple fact that no harm was done.

This is the stupidest thing I've heard all day. Congratulations. I won't even bother responding.

Victim? Can I get a victim?

And this is the heart of it: you're an asshole. You try to hide your own fear and weakness by delighting in other's pain.
posted by nixerman at 12:55 PM on June 4, 2005


These cops need to take a lesson from the police of other countries. This should have been handled far better. Both parties were totally in the wrong here, but to see that kind of aggressive needless escalation to weapons when no bodily threat ws presented (and it WAS utterly needless - well trained cops can and do diffuse those situations instead of ratcheting them up, travel outside of the USA to see firsthand), is just disgusting. But that's the state of the US police force today.

I don't understand people justifying this by saying "But that's exactly what I would expect would happen to me if I pulled that shit". That the US police force is so piss poor doesn't make it right or acceptable when an officer disgraces his badge and what it should stand for. Other countries have police forces that do their jobs just as effectively, if not moreso, but do so with far far less abuse, and lesser amounts of force used, not to mention a lower bodycount. Why can't we have a police force of a modern western nation?
posted by -harlequin- at 12:59 PM on June 4, 2005


It's a dangerous job because of us. Well, maybe not 'us' in the you and I sense, but because of the people who drive around without licenses and fail to comply with simple requests when they get caught.

She was not a threat. Perhaps the officer missapprehended the situation and thought his life was in danger. oops.

She placed the call at the beginning of the tazer sequence. This is not the action of someone preparing to commit mayhem on an officer.

on preview: go nixerman, -harlequin-
posted by pointilist at 1:02 PM on June 4, 2005


misapprehended
posted by pointilist at 1:04 PM on June 4, 2005


-harlequin- Why can't we have a police force of a modern western nation?

Simple answer to that - you've got too many guns.
posted by longbaugh at 1:04 PM on June 4, 2005


You know, Jody. This shit is getting tiresome... now I'm stupid and lacking in empathy. No, your wrong. I have a great deal of empathy... it's just that my empathy is for the officer who acted according to established protocol and is now going to find his career in jeopardy because of people like you.

People who will gladly trash a cop but will bend over backwards to protect a woman, a woman you know nothing about, who knowingly broke the law the second she got behind the wheel. If she was a black male in LA it likely would have turned out far worse.

You confuse a few hours in a museum with reality. You confuse your mothers with criminals. You see pragmatism as a lack of empathy. Are you really this simple? This is not about your deaf mothers driving or the police frying everyone they stop for speeding, this is one incident. Pick your battles better because this one is a no-brainer.
posted by cedar at 1:05 PM on June 4, 2005


Longbaugh, dude, please. Whole 30 minutes? Do you even know WHY tazers work? How muscules and motor neurons function? Have you read about what happens during such procedures as electroshock therapy? How a body responds to extreme levels of pain and fear?
What are you talking about? What exactly "afterwards" mean? Seconds? Minutes? Finally, if is was pissing her pants, exactly how probable is it that she whas reaching for a Glock at the same time?
posted by c13 at 1:05 PM on June 4, 2005


It's called "empathy", a civilised impulse, cornerstone of the sort of world we'd prefer to live in etc etc - and it's noticeably lacking from the "where's the victim, duh" stupidity from cedar et al.

If you apply empathy to every single person regardless of whether there is any reason for it, it stops having any real use. If the woman didn't speak English, or had some condition where she couldn't move quickly, or was hard of hearing, I can understand being empathetic. My interpretation of the events is that she fully understood what was going on, and just didn't want to get out of the car because she was going to be arrested. There's not alot to be empathetic about, especially since the long-range effects of her being tazed are none. I could empthize if she got killed, or shot. Not for being tazed so she could be arrested.

I don't think she's a "dumb bitch" who "deserves what she got". I think she's a rude woman who deliberately ignored legal orders which she was entirely capable of following, and tried to prevent herself from being arrested. I don't see how this applies to hard-of-hearing, non-English speaking, slow-moving mothers.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:06 PM on June 4, 2005


I'm going to have to ask this, because so far I've not seen this answered : when did the taser go from being a less-than-lethal means of self-defence to an acceptable instrument of coercion? At what point did police forces start considering it acceptable to shock people who don't do what they're told fast enough?

Amnesty report, Nov. 2004:
There is also evidence to suggest that, far from being used to avoid lethal force, many US police agencies are deploying tasers as a routine force option to subdue non-compliant or disturbed individuals who do not pose a serious danger to themselves or others. In some departments, tasers have become the most prevalent force tool. They have been used against unruly schoolchildren; unarmed mentally disturbed or intoxicated individuals; suspects fleeing minor crime scenes and people who argue with police or fail to comply immediately with a command. Cases described in this report include the stunning of a 15-year-old schoolgirl in Florida, following a dispute on a bus, and a 13- year-old girl in Arizona, who threw a book in a public library.

Looks like Amnesty are concerned, too. But hey, they're no friend of George Bush so we can ignore them as a bunch of tree-hugging hippes :)
posted by kaemaril at 1:07 PM on June 4, 2005


Ahem.. *was*..
posted by c13 at 1:08 PM on June 4, 2005


nixerman: Even so, do you think police officers have the right to zap any person who's "non-compliant"?

I think the police have the right to zap any criminal who is non-compliant. Criminal being the operative word.

That is what this woman is, a criminal. She entered that category the moment she started that vehicle and compounded her error by refusing to cooperate when she got caught.
posted by cedar at 1:10 PM on June 4, 2005


Although this morning's comments (pointilist, nixerman, -harlequin-, c13 and kaemaril off the top of my head) are balancing things out a bit, this is the thread I'm going to point to the next time someone tries to argue that MeFi is a purely lefty stronghold.
posted by Sinner at 1:12 PM on June 4, 2005


Cedar, 23skidoo:

Can you please explain to me what would have been lost by giving the woman in the car an additional few minutes to collect herself prior to tasing her (before or after actually drawing the taser, depending on your preference)? Assume that the "slippery slope" answer is not an acceptable one.
posted by Sinner at 1:15 PM on June 4, 2005


That is what this woman is, a criminal.

Is it of any use to remind the fact that it is up to the court to deside that? Not you or the cops?
As a more general question, is the situation really that hopeless?
posted by c13 at 1:16 PM on June 4, 2005


kaemaril, I wouldn't generalize just yet without seeing some hard numbers. I know quite a few cops through my volunteer work, and for them it's canon that the #1 priority of an officer is to preserve the peace. This means avoiding violent confrontations whenever possible. These guys here are just very poorly trained officers. Everything they did, from using the threat of force, rather than arrest, to the second taser stinging, was just wrong. Here in NYC, where officers handle situations like this many times a week, this sort of shit police work wouldn't fly at all.
posted by nixerman at 1:16 PM on June 4, 2005


c13 - yes, surprisingly enough I do know both how and why tasers work. I'd be surprised if most people would without having to look it up. EST is nothing like being hit by a taser. Having experienced "extreme levels of pain and fear" I am also fully aware of the effects on mental and physical capabilities. I have had a tooth, it's root and the live nerve removed from my skull without anaesthetic (think lots of crunching noises and white knuckles gripping the dentists chair) and that is just a teensy bit painful. I was perfectly able to think and move seconds afterward despite the excruciating pain during the procedure.

It's not hard to find videos of people being hit by tasers on the internet, feel free to visit fugly as I linked above where you will find one on the first page under the "video" section as an example. You will see with your own eyes the effect of it. It's temporary and it does not stop you from moving once the shock is over.

I am not defending the actions of the police btw - I am simply trying to explain that cops are scared every time they pull over a vehicle and this is why you do what they say immediately without hesitation. I was in the US for two weeks alone and I worked that one out.
posted by longbaugh at 1:17 PM on June 4, 2005


Jeepers, 23skidoo.
You sure project a lot of logical thinking into the woman's stupid, panicked reaction. And I rather doubt she was pondering the likely long term effect of being shocked either.
Empathy is a civilised instinct, not a cold judgement. And saying "I could empathize if she got killed" is pretty funny, because you can't empathize with a dead person! Look it up:)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:20 PM on June 4, 2005


And what does this say about the quality of the cops if two big guys are so scared of a 22 year old female talking on a phone that the best thing they can think of is zap her 30 seconds into the arrest? Do they do it in your country as well?
posted by c13 at 1:23 PM on June 4, 2005


This is another example of where the preemptive use of force might create the illusion of greater safety, but instead, makes us all less safe, more paranoid, and more fearfull of those who hold on to power.
posted by Balisong at 1:23 PM on June 4, 2005


Is it of any use to remind the fact that it is up to the court to deside that? Not you or the cops?

That driving with a suspended license thing is pretty clear cut. The courts already decided she shouldn't be driving, I expect she was aware of that.
posted by cedar at 1:25 PM on June 4, 2005


c13 - I'd refer you back to my comment to -harlequin-.

In my country the chances of anyone having a handgun are virtually nil, so the cops don't have to approach every traffic stop in fear for their lives.
posted by longbaugh at 1:26 PM on June 4, 2005


when did the taser go from being a less-than-lethal means of self-defence to an acceptable instrument of coercion? At what point did police forces start considering it acceptable to shock people who don't do what they're told fast enough?

As soon as it was issued to them.
There are no slippery slopes. As soon as someone is put into a position to abuse power, they will. Justified by the fact that they were given the power to use.

If people didn't think cops would use tazers on people, they shouldn't have given them to cops.
posted by Balisong at 1:28 PM on June 4, 2005


What about the first part of the question?
posted by c13 at 1:29 PM on June 4, 2005


Sinner: Can you please explain to me what would have been lost by giving the woman in the car an additional few minutes to collect herself prior to tasing her (before or after actually drawing the taser, depending on your preference)? Assume that the "slippery slope" answer is not an acceptable one.

No, I can't. I wasn't there, I simply don't know.

Unfortunately, the "slippery slope" answer is the only one I have and the one that I think applies. How long is long enough? In the cops opinion he waited long enough, she had multiple warnings and I don't know what it would have taken to convince him that another 30 seconds or five minutes would have made a difference.

If, in fact, she flailed about at the cop on the passenger side, I imagine that would have effectively ended the waiting period.
posted by cedar at 1:33 PM on June 4, 2005


nixerman to cedar: And this is the heart of it: you're an asshole. You try to hide your own fear and weakness by delighting in other's pain.

Whoa, nixerman! Slow down for a second. Where do you get that statement from? What do you know about cedar that I don't? Cedar is simply stating his opinion and nowhere do I feel that he's being sadistic. You can't go around making slanderous accusations of this sort simply because somebody disagrees with you. Pot and kettle and all that.

Somebody said it upthread, but I feel that both parties were in the wrong in this situation. She should have listened to the cops when the threatened her with tasering . . . Immediately. And the cops should have been more diplomatic before getting to the taser option.
posted by ashbury at 1:36 PM on June 4, 2005


c13 - It says that they are scared of doing their jobs and that they thus approach it without being in the right frame of mind. If it had been me I certainly wouldn't have gone for the taser. I would have opened the door and asked her to step out of the vehicle and stated that she was being recorded by the in car camera and thus advised her that as I was placing her into custody her resistance to my commands was being registered it would be noted for her court appearance. This would no doubt compound any sentence she would likely incur as a result of breaking the law.

Of course - that's me, sat at a desk at home. If my nerves were frazzled and I wasn't in a right state of mind who knows what I'd do.
posted by longbaugh at 1:38 PM on June 4, 2005


Well, longbaugh, since you "know pain," I guess that settles the argument. This woman was clearly screaming in agony as some kind of ploy to... to... wait, what was the threat she posed, again? I lost track after "hidden HIV+ needle."

I applaud your manly tolerance for pain.
posted by odinsdream at 1:44 PM on June 4, 2005


she never did anything to endanger that officer or make him feel unsafe.

Uh-huh. In any event, the second tasering was what unnerved me. Yikes.

I have nothing against the stun guns. In fact, considering the unavoidable presence of trigger happy policemen, getting 50,000 volts is still preferable to say... a bullet. However, this video and incident is proof that the Taser is a too convenient temptation. One simply stops thinking of alternatives such physically pulling her out of the car.
posted by slf at 1:44 PM on June 4, 2005


cedar,

In the cops opinion he waited long enough, she had multiple warnings and I don't know what it would have taken to convince him that another 30 seconds or five minutes would have made a difference

Well, in my opinion, the cop's opinion is not the only one that matters, and it's not an issue of what it would take to convince him so much as it is doing the right thing as a peace officer. How about I eliminate the "slippery slope" and say simply: why couldn't he have given her ten minutes to gather herself, with taser drawn. Not more than that. He tases her when the second hand passes 9:59? There's no slippery slope there, just an effort to make sure he's made a concerted effort to avoid causing her a great deal of pain.

If this is going to boil down to "agree to disagree," that's sad, but there is absolutely nothing in the video to demonstrate that any threat you're assuming she posed couldn't have been more effectively neutralized and the situation defused had she been given a few more chances and an opportunity to relax.

If, in fact, she flailed about at the cop on the passenger side, I imagine that would have effectively ended the waiting period.

If I recall correctly, this was only mentioned in the report by the officer over the radio or in the commentary. It's purely he-said/she-said and I have no reason to believe it's not just CYA on the part of the cops. The video certainly doesn't show it.
posted by Sinner at 1:44 PM on June 4, 2005


That driving with a suspended license thing is pretty clear cut.

Quick question since I wasn't paying attention to this in the video: Had she already given him her license before the video started? Did the video start as she was pulled over, or did it start once it had been established that her license was suspended?

I'm assuming she had given them her license already, because he didn't get her license on the video before tasering her, which would preclude him knowing if she was a criminal, or merely driving a car owned by someone who couldn't drive it due to the suspended license.

But, I'd prefer to know rather than assume :)
posted by -harlequin- at 1:45 PM on June 4, 2005


That is what this woman is, a criminal.

In the America I grew up in, one was innocent until proven guilty. Not because the cop's computer said so. Yes, there's a 99%+ chance she was driving with a suspended license. She was probably speeding too. Open and shut case. But it is up to the court not the cop or you or me to decide.

In my lovely city there the cops are also being accused of liberal use of tasers.

Don't get me too wrong. The woman should have complied with the officer's demand. The woman brought this on herself. HOWEVER, the cops have a duty to not use their weapons to get a person to get out of the car. The cop over reacted and should be disciplined. If he didn't have a taser, how would he have reacted? Would he pulled his gun or got out the night stick? Or would he have exercised patience like he should have?

Being obstinate and noncompliant to the cops is stupid. But cops -- at least in my version of the US -- need to exercise restraint. They are underpaid and put under extreme stress. If I were in the guy's position, I may have done the same thing. But that doesn't make it right. The police should not sink to the same level as the accused.
posted by birdherder at 1:45 PM on June 4, 2005


Was this an undue use of force?
Was there another way to diffuse the situation?
posted by Balisong at 1:46 PM on June 4, 2005


I've caught some grief for my attitude that, "all's well that ends well," and my contention that the woman wasn't harmed and hence, isn't a victim.

I started playing a mind game with myself where I pretended she was shot.

Cop: Step out of the vehicle.
Unsub: [talks on phone]
Cop: Step out of the vehicle. NOW.
Unsub: [looks at cop, talks on phone]
Cop: [pulls gun and points at unsub] NOW!!!
Unsub: [ignores cop]
Cop: LAST WARNING. STEP OUT OF THE VEHICLE!
Unsub: [twitches]

The cop would be clearly wrong here shooting an unarmed person, but I think the discussion would have gone the same way. The difference is, nobody here was hurt. There was no damage.

It seems that we are all far more upset about this than the 'victim' who is drinking umbrella cocktails on the beach. If it wasn't for the taser and video it wouldn't even be news.
posted by cedar at 1:48 PM on June 4, 2005


So then it is fine that people should think of the cops as dangerous, unpredictable, scared phycopaths? That's normal? They should not be calm professionals who, in the face of danger (real or perceived) would not loose their minds?
Again, a 22yo female talking on a phone because she's scared of the cops, a 13yo female throwing a book at the library? Just how scared are they?
posted by c13 at 1:49 PM on June 4, 2005


Or, imagine missy doing this in ANY OTHER COUNTRY EXCEPT FOR THE UNITED STATES.... we all know the answer to that situation.

What a fuckwitted thing to say.

In Canada, Britain, Germany, Japan, and a dozen other countries that are leagues more civilized than the USA, the cops would have used non-violent means as a first resort.

Only someone who hates America would make a claim that America is better than any other country.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:49 PM on June 4, 2005


Balisong:
When a guy went on a rampage in an unstoppable tank in the US, they got an officer on the tank who simply shot the guy at the first chance. When exactly the same thing happened in Australia, the officer they got onto the tank stopped it just as quickly, but produced a living suspect to stand trial. I know that just one case isn't meaningful, but damn do I have some respect for the cops that do their job properly.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:51 PM on June 4, 2005


Balisong, what does this have to do with what we're talking about here?
posted by c13 at 1:51 PM on June 4, 2005


My point is the same thing that -harlequin- just said.
There are ways to diffuse a situation without shooting or tazering anyone. It takes skill, patience, training, and having a lick of conscience.
If it were you or I, who havent been trained, things like a shooting or tazering would probably happen.
Cops should have more restraint.
posted by Balisong at 1:57 PM on June 4, 2005


So cedar can now mind read the victim-who-wasn't-a-victim-anyway? Forget empathy, he's got telepathy!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:57 PM on June 4, 2005


odinsdream - Well, longbaugh, since you "know pain," I guess that settles the argument. This woman was clearly screaming in agony as some kind of ploy to... to... wait, what was the threat she posed, again? I lost track after "hidden HIV+ needle."

If you'd have carried on paying attention instead of letting your attention wander you'd see that after that bit it says

"...or whichever other fear of the week the individual subscribes to. Cops stay alive because they treat every encounter as if it's a lethal one."

Sorry if you didn't catch that part. As for this -

I applaud your manly tolerance for pain.

At which point did I not say I was in excrutiating pain - the kind I wouldn't wish on anyone? Nope, rereading what I wrote seems to indicate that I wasn't able to think or function during the pain. Please don't deliberately misread what I write so that you can feel good about your misdirected anger. Try paying attention and you'll see that I don't like what they did AT ALL and am merely pointing out that I understand the fear that causes them to act like this.
posted by longbaugh at 2:00 PM on June 4, 2005


After reading the rest of this thread, I now understand why the police in the USA are such pigs: the public demands it. Some of you are outright looney when it comes to police action -- you are freakin encouraging them to be short-fused, maximum-actioned, testosterone-fueld bullies.

I am so thankful I don't live in the USA. I can't imagine why the more thoughtful of you remain there.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:05 PM on June 4, 2005


Hey Jody, my email is in my profile.

Out of simple courtesy to everyone else, you might want to consider insulting me directly or at least throwing a few relevant comments in amongst your attacks on me. It just looks better that way.

On preview: you know, like I just did.
posted by cedar at 2:06 PM on June 4, 2005


See, FFF, watching someone kicking ass is fun. It's considered cool and manly here. As long as it does not involve us directly. That's why the thuggery of the early West, for example, has been turned into a legend and a film genre. The sheriff and the outlaws. The sheriff always kicks ass and sets everything straight. Since most of us are too fat and out of shape to even walk, stuck in meaningless jobs with asshole bosses and are buried under mountains of debt, we have to live vicariously through someone else.
posted by c13 at 2:17 PM on June 4, 2005


FFF: I now understand why the police in the USA are such pigs.

All of them? Every single cop in the entire stinking U.S. of A?

I'm not sure where your from, but we in America are blessed with living in a particularly violent society -- we got guns and we ain't afraid to use them. See, the law and order folks are also the ones that spend tens of millions lobbying against gun control. The pro-incarceration folks spend the bulk of their time complaining about taxes. We have mandatory minimums for kids getting high but release vioplent felons due to overcrowding. Nothing goes to trial because the police are so busy charging people with petty crimes and the courts are so busy dealing with them that nobody ever sees a jury. Move 'em in, move 'em out, if a few slip through the cracks it's no big deal and beats the hell out of hiring another probation officer or, God forbid, funding an early intervention program.

Don't blame the cops. They don't make the laws, hell, they hardly even enforce them since they spend the bulk of their time arresting the same people for the same petty shit, over and over and over. Too damn bad about the tasers, they need something since we're too fucking cheap to actually pay them a decent wage and train them. It's tough to get good help starting at 23k a year and a taser beats the hell out of a Glock or baton.

Before you decide that every cop in the US is a testestorone fueled pig you might want to look at some stats -- feel free to compare our line-of-duty death rate to yours. By all means, toss in the per capita violent crimes against persons.

Then ask yourself why the police are so touchy.
posted by cedar at 2:24 PM on June 4, 2005


i wonder how many of the people who defend the cops' actions here are also people who've gotten upset when people got arrested for such things as wearing the wrong t shirt or holding the wrong sign at a bush appearance?

and i wonder how many of them would be happy if tasers were used on these protesters when they refused to leave, defending their free speech rights?

i don't wonder if it will happen ... sooner or later, it will
posted by pyramid termite at 2:28 PM on June 4, 2005


I don't doubt you are correct that cops might abuse protesters in the future. I have a pair of friends in NYC who where bundled up during the RNC. I still wouldn't equate defending freedom of speech with not following an officer's instructions during a traffic stop however.
posted by longbaugh at 2:34 PM on June 4, 2005


nixerman: I was merely pointing out that there seems to be a general problem, namely that a taser - which, just like any other weapon, should be used only as a last resort, seems to be being used not as a weapon but a means of coercion. This case is a perfect example, and a quick google suggests this is far from unique. I was questioning whether or not this is an approved tactic, as it seems to be happening rather a lot. Amnesty, also, seems to be a tad concerned. Though, of course, as George Bush points out, America is a bastion of freedom and therefore shouldn't be criticised by Human Rights organisations :)
posted by kaemaril at 3:38 PM on June 4, 2005


five fresh fish: I now understand why the police in the USA are such pigs: the public demands it. Some of you are outright looney when it comes to police action -- you are freakin encouraging them to be short-fused, maximum-actioned, testosterone-fueld bullies.

I doubt it's unique to Americans. It's a general condition. Any time you ask "the public" they want criminals to be visited with swift and certain justice, and to heck with their rights, or namby-pamby civil issues ...

Until, that is, one of them become the criminal. At that point, the actions they were encouraging only moments ago suddenly become the heights of police brutality...

Joe Average : Drug users? Death's too good for 'em! Who cares about a trial when they're guility as sin! String 'em up!
Police: We just found a bit of weed in your back pocket. Come with us to a place of lawful execution...
Joe Average : What?! This is abuse! You can't do this to me! I'm a law-abiding citizen, not a criminal! Where's my lawyer?!
posted by kaemaril at 3:46 PM on June 4, 2005


FFF: I now understand why the police in the USA are such pigs.
All of them? Every single cop in the entire stinking U.S. of A?


Oh, yes, every single one of them. You know that's what I mean. [rolls eyes]
posted by five fresh fish at 4:49 PM on June 4, 2005


cedar:
I largely agree with "All's well that end's well", however, I don't think you're looking at the bigger picture here by isolating this case. Tasers kill unpredicably. Therefore, using them indiscriminantly when there is no physical threat of anyone getting harmed (as seen in this case) will inevitably (and probably already has) result in things definitely not ending well.

We are talking about a police practise that will inevitably kill people in situations where properly trained and properly acting police officers would get the job done better and produce no such injuries or deaths. "All's well that ends well" just doesn't seem to apply here.

When there is no need to pull a weapon that can and does kill people regardless of its user's non-lethal intentions, then using that weapon as first resort instead of last is inexcusable.

The taser was introduced on the (correct) argument that giving officers a less lethal self-defence than the glock against dangerous attackers would save lives. This is important - the potentially lethal force of the taser is justified by it being better than gun. If there is no danger to anyone, then using a taser is creating an unnecessary danger, not minimising an existing one. That's the exact opposite of what the police stand for.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:58 PM on June 4, 2005


Librul mefites beware. Wingnuts have successfully invaded The Blue.
posted by notreally at 5:29 PM on June 4, 2005


FFF, just take that one line and totally ignore the rest of a long post.

This tells me that you have more interest in hearing yourself talk than in discussing the substance of this thread. I guess the idea is that when you fire off a one-liner attacking a group it's a minor aside, barely worthy of mention, but when I call you on it it's hyperbole.

I have no idea what you mean. All I know is what you said. Silly me to think they were the same thing.

notreally: yeah, no liberal here. I'm LGF and Bush/Cheney all the way... a look at my posting history should make that clear.
posted by cedar at 5:53 PM on June 4, 2005


hmmm, cedar ... so, do you think that anti-abortion protesters should be tasered if they don't obey police orders to move? ... i wonder what your friends on lgf would have to say about that ... or other bush supporters? ... do you think the people who were trying to bring water to terry shavio should have been tased instead of wrestled to the ground?

after all, by refusing police orders they "become criminals" don't they?

be careful what level of physical force you approve of in non-violent situations, because they will be applied across the board, eventually

and when it does happen to the people i describe, i fully expect many on the right to cry loudly and shrilly about it ... even though they can't be too bothered with it happening to a woman who's gotten caught with a suspended license ...

my bottom line is i don't think this level of force was justified at this level of non-compliance ... and if you do, then you'll have to approve of it for people non-violently protesting social issues, including ones you may agree with ...
posted by pyramid termite at 6:17 PM on June 4, 2005


Uh pyramid termite, I think maybe you should check cedar's posting history...
posted by jikel_morten at 6:48 PM on June 4, 2005


my bottom line is i don't think this level of force was justified at this level of non-compliance ... and if you do, then you'll have to approve of it for people non-violently protesting social issues, including ones you may agree with ...
posted by pyramid termite at 6:17 PM PST on June 4 [!]


Protesting social issues and resisting arrest are not even in the same ballpark, man.
posted by jikel_morten at 7:05 PM on June 4, 2005


yeah, I don't think I've read more idiocy in one thread in my five years reading this site. From the reactionaries personally attacking/demeaning cedar for expressing a point of view (yeah, go ahead and call HIM an asshole, even though he has said nothing insulting to you whatsoever - why not make this as ugly/personal as possible, hey, even threaten violence) to the ridiculously over the top comparisons between social protestors & a reckless driver with no license refusing to exit her vehicle, this is just pathetic...
posted by jonson at 7:14 PM on June 4, 2005


I neglected to respond earlier to the claim that "there is no victim" that a few people were making. This doesn't even rise to the level of "specious." Being electrocuted is painful. Period. End of story. That she was able to travel a few days later has absolutely nothing to do with her having been a victim of the officer's aggression. Look at the tactics recently revealed to have been used in Guantanomo - barking attack dogs, humiliation, even the prisoner who was hooded and forced to stand in a certain position or else (falsely!) face electrocution. No, I'm not trying to equate the mistreatment of this woman to the mistreatment that occurred at GB, nor am I making an argument on the rectitude of the actions of the GB interrogators (that's a whole different thread). Simply put, however, while they may have thought that whatever harm was being inflicted on those prisoners - though it didn't cause lifelong damage - those soldiers clearly believed it might induce them to provide answers. Why? Because threats and pain - even simply psychological pain - cause harm.

So where's there a victim? Well, there's someone who was shocked twice with 50,000 volts of electricity. That's your victim. Had she been struck with a baton, or grazed with a bullet, right or wrong, she might still have gone on to her pageant - but that doesn't mean she wasn't hurt, nor that she wasn't victimized.
posted by Sinner at 7:36 PM on June 4, 2005


For what it's worth, I know cedar's posting history and am utterly stunned by his statements in this thread as a result. The only justification I can come up with is the 1984 argument - that we already live in a police state and should therefore not try to resist - but I'm sure I'm mistaken.
posted by Sinner at 7:41 PM on June 4, 2005


Sorry, a good chunk of that post read pretty incoherently.

Corrected:

No, I'm not trying to equate the mistreatment of this woman to the mistreatment that occurred at GB, nor am I making an argument on the rectitude of the actions of the GB interrogators (that's a whole different thread). Simply put, however, while those soldiers may have thought that whatever harm was being inflicted on those prisoners was justified and that it wouldn't cause lifelong damage, the soldiers clearly believed it might induce the prisoners to provide answers. Why? Because threats and pain - even mere psychological pain - cause harm.

posted by Sinner at 7:47 PM on June 4, 2005


jikel_morton: though, of course, if "protesting social issues" results in a sit down protest, it can very quickly become resisting arrest. In fact, you wouldn't believe how quickly it can become resisting arrest :)
posted by kaemaril at 7:58 PM on June 4, 2005


Kaemaril illustrates the connection between "protesting social issues" and "resisting arrest" excellently. Ignoring this connection requires a lot of effort, since it is fairly obvious.

If this were a student sitting in front of a bulldozer, perhaps an officer would want to arrest him for, let's say, trespassing:
"Get out of the way of the bulldozer or I'm going to taze you."
"You're going to taze me?"
"I'm going to taze you. Get out of the way of the bulldozer."
student gets tazed, then arrested for trespassing.

Okay, so here we've developed a situation not at all unlike that in the video. No argumentative trickery was required, either. Here we've developed exactly the situation that so many people in this thread seem to think allows for the introduction of a taser in order to ensure that the police orders will be enforced.
posted by odinsdream at 8:14 PM on June 4, 2005


As I am not an African-American, and I have not had to deal with harrassment by law enforcement officials as an African-American, I refuse to judge this woman.

You would think this would have taught her that YOU DO NOT FUCK WITH THE COPS. But no, evidently she didn't get the memo.

People seem to think that it's 100% certain that she would have calmed down and come out of the car if only the officer had waited longer. It just as easily (or even more easily) could have resulted in her getting MORE upset, and deciding to lead them on a high-speed chase that could have caused untold destruction to life and limb of innocents.

Look. It's not hard. When someone from legitimate authority points a weapon at you and says they're going to hurt you unless you comply, you comply. If your brain is incapable of functioning well enough to tell you this, well, the Darwin awards await you.
posted by beth at 8:14 PM on June 4, 2005


Oh and fwiw I am an avowed lefty. You might even accurately call me a Commie.
posted by beth at 8:15 PM on June 4, 2005


Commie.
posted by buzzman at 8:29 PM on June 4, 2005


beth -

As I am not an African-American, and I have not had to deal with harrassment by law enforcement officials as an African-American, I refuse to judge this woman.

You would think this would have taught her that YOU DO NOT FUCK WITH THE COPS. But no, evidently she didn't get the memo.


Why? She wasn't "fucking with the cops," she was seeking a witness of some sort in case she was harmed by the police. Listen to what she said into the phone.

People seem to think that it's 100% certain that she would have calmed down and come out of the car if only the officer had waited longer. It just as easily (or even more easily) could have resulted in her getting MORE upset, and deciding to lead them on a high-speed chase that could have caused untold destruction to life and limb of innocents.


Yes, well, a brick could also have fallen from the sky, killing from the officer.

To say that giving her time to calm down could have "more easily" resulted in her getting more upset seems internally inconsistent - even somewhat silly - but sure, let's say she got more out of hand. In that case, the officer would actually be justified in using the taser to prevent an escalating situation from spiralling out of control. There is nothing in the video to suggest that that had already happened.

For the sake of argument, let's say the weapon was drawn (which I think was unreasonable, but let's ignore that). How exactly was she going to lead them on a high-speed chase? The officer has a taser a few feet from her. She doesn't have many choices for subtlety, subterfuge or evasion. She'd have a better chance, actually, once out of the car, where she could have run away.

When someone from legitimate authority points a weapon at you and says they're going to hurt you unless you comply, you comply.

This is wrong in so many ways. Not to go with the slippery slope thing, but if she'd been told to fellate the officer, should she have complied there, too? Realizing that that's not quite what you were getting at, placing her in an extremely high-stress situation and giving her an infinitesimal amount of time to comply really reduces her eligibility for the Darwin awards.
posted by Sinner at 8:30 PM on June 4, 2005


Well said, jonson.

What most surprises me is the general lack of knowledge by what I assume to be otherwise intelligent, educated people on the rights of someone under arrest, but also, the powers of the police in dealing with an arrestee. For the sake of this post, I take it that she was, as per socratic's linked article, told that she was under arrest for driving while suspended.

Once arrested, a detainee is obliged to comply with all reasonable demands of the officer. What makes a particular demand reasonable depends on the circumstances. It is an unfortunate fact that for US police dealing with a detainee in a vehicle, the police must consider that there is potentially a firearm available to the occupants of that vehicle.

The longer a detainee refuses to comply with direction, the greater the threat to the officer. Why? a) the detainee is 'working up the courage to grab and use a weapon, which may or may not look like a weapon at first glance' or 'considering driving off notwithstanding the entry of part of the officer into the cabin of the car, if applicable'. b) the detainee is waiting for the officer to lapse in attention (inevitable over longer periods of time) to do what is described in "a)" c) the detainee is trying to think up some other action that poses a threat to the officer.

None of those things may apply in any particular circumstance, but any might apply in the specific situation, and the officer CAN'T know. So the officer has to err on the side of caution for self and other officers. The officer has the duty to apprehend the arrestee, and continued non-compliance with direction makes the situation potentially more risky, not less, in that until the detainee is out of the car, the situation remains equally uncontrolled.

There were no features here of someone who didn't understand or couldn't hear the directions. If the detainee, who clearly understands a direction does not comply, this makes it more, not less, likely that they will do some other positive action to the detriment of the officer(s). The fact that the detainee MAY be panicking doesn't make the situation any less risky for the officer(s), it makes the occurence of otherwise unpredictable actions more likely.

Thirty seconds is a long time to be an officer dealing with that increasingly uncontrolled situation. I am not a police officer, but I am a prosecutor who deals with them almost every day, and who reads the reports of their actions regularly (thankfully, in Canada, where the risks to them on a traffic stop are far less dangerous).

I would have to see all the reports and the video before being in a position to declare that the officer was unjustified in using the amount of force used, but read this decision by a well respected judge in my jurisdiction to see that what might appear to you and I to be unjustified is actually acceptable in the circumstances. Change "bitten by dog" for "initial tasering" and the second taser doesn't appear to be quite so uncalled for, IMHO.
posted by birdsquared at 8:34 PM on June 4, 2005


giving her an infinitesimal amount of time to comply

30 seconds is plenty of time, yo.

She was breaking the law (in a big way, not just the speeding), and bolting is not unheard of for people who get caught in such a situation. She could have slammed on the gas at any moment. The cop couldn't even see her foot.

And yes, I dare say, refusing a clear, lawful, REPEATED order when pulled over on a traffic stop, with weapon drawn and intended to be used (as the cop warned he would do), is fucking with the cops in my book.

Do you think, growing up in the African American community she might have heard of at least one story of someone not doing exactly what a cop said, and getting hurt because of it? I think the likelihood of this was probably pretty high, but who knows, in the telling, odds are the emphasis was on how wrong the cop was, not on how wise complying with the cops is, if you want to avoid getting hurt.

Bringing up the idea of fellating just makes you look ridiculous, you know.
posted by beth at 8:41 PM on June 4, 2005


birdsquared -

While I appreciate your insight and think you'd be a valuable addition to the conversation even at this late stage in its existence, I'd suggest that you watch the video. It's not that long and it might serve to illuminate some dark areas for you.
posted by Sinner at 8:43 PM on June 4, 2005


beth

> 30 seconds is plenty of time, yo.

I don't think she'd agree, yo, and I think her behavior demonstrated that. What's important here is not only the 30 seconds given but the speed with which the officer changed the situation from relative calm to outright aggression. I don't fault her for being out of sorts, especially given the "gun" she thought was pointed at her. I might freak out for more than 30 seconds given the (perceived) possibility that my life was about to conclude and the feeling that that cell phone was my only lifeline.

> She was breaking the law (in a big way, not just the
> speeding), and bolting is not unheard of for people who
> get caught in such a situation.

Very few people have disputed any of this.

> She could have slammed on the gas at any moment.
> The cop couldn't even see her foot.

Neither of us know whether the car was running.

> And yes, I dare say, refusing a clear, lawful, REPEATED
> order when pulled over on a traffic stop, with weapon
> drawn and intended to be used (as the cop warned he
> would do), is fucking with the cops in my book.

We're clearly reading from different books. To me, "fucking with the cops" is acting aggressively or with hostility. In either case, you seem to subscribe to the school of thought that believes that you should do whatever the police say immediately whether because the police are a) so out-of-control that you're lucky to have them not abuse you, b) infallible, c) more fearful than you are. I've never argued that she could never have been deserving of a tasing - I simply believe that it was far too premature and that the escalation came from the officer, not the driver.

> Do you think, growing up in the African American
> community she might have heard of at least one story of
> someone not doing exactly what a cop said, and getting
> hurt because of it? I think the likelihood of this was
> probably pretty high, but who knows, in the telling, odds
> are the emphasis was on how wrong the cop was, not on
> how wise complying with the cops is, if you want to avoid
> getting hurt.

And how exactly does that make her any more likely to comply? I'll play your absurd little guessing game and say that she's probably more likely to have heard of other black people who at least perceived themselves to have been unjustly targeted and abused. Given that, she would probably have good reason to be very frightened even before the officer pulled what she thought was a gun on her.

> Bringing up the idea of fellating just makes you look
> ridiculous, you know.

Not any more than your ridiculous belief that the police are apparently always on your side and would never do wrong. For the record, do you really think a cop has never made such a command (or a similar one?)?
posted by Sinner at 8:59 PM on June 4, 2005


Neither of us know whether the car was running.

It's not. The car is stopped but the brake lights aren't on.
posted by sellout at 9:04 PM on June 4, 2005


wow i'm late to the discussion.

i used to be in the police explorer program many years ago because i planned on being a cop. we went through almost all of the same physical and procedural training any fully-fledged cop would go through; the only thing we didn't touch were firearms.

with that said, traffic stop scenarios were something we both emulated for practice and experienced/observed actually on the road.

according to the training we received at the instruction of active, full-time police officers (in case there's any doubt), the cop in this situation unquestionably acted a little hastily, but did pretty much what we were trained to do in such a situation.

with a suspect like the woman in question here, we'd have two options for response:
- since we're operating on the county's dime, we can sit there for as long as it takes until she gets bored and gives up.
- if she refuses to comply, and we have better things to do than sit there all day, we'd repeat an order a total of five (5) times (for evidence of resistance) before just pepper gassing her ass and dragging her out of the car.

let's say she rolled up all the windows and locked the doors and refused to get out. response? repeat an order to open the doors five (5) times before just smashing the glass with a flashlight, pepper gassing her ass and dragging her out of the car. if the windows were too dark to see through, we shouldn't even bother asking--just smash and grab.

someone above was trying to argue at what point she became confrontational. she became "confrontational" the first time she refused to comply with an order. as far as the cop is concerned, she could be stalling for time for whoever she's talking to on the phone to show up at the scene, or to rummage around for a weapon, or for some other purpose. it's not the cop's place to wonder for what reason she's not complying with an order; he's in a potentially dangerous situation, and will not fuck around.

i don't buy the argument concerning why they didn't use gas in favor of the taser that was presented in the article. i suspect whoever said this department wanted to "try out their new toys" is correct in their assumption.

i'm not a lawyer, so perhaps i'm getting out of my range of experience, but it seems a lot of you are forgetting that driving a car on a public road is not a right. when you sign your driver's license, you are basically signing a contract that says "i will obey the rules and regulations of the roads, and i will comply with police officers if they suspect i have failed to obey said rules." here in georgia, perhaps other states as well, you are legally obligated to submit to breathalyzer tests if the officer has reasonable suspicion you are too drunk to drive. failing to comply will result in arrest, and resistance of arrest will result in getting your ass handed to you, just like this situation.

i will say using the taser, as opposed to pepper spray, was a bit harsh, and the cop had not only a bit of an itchy trigger finger but a lack of self-control (the number one thing we were trained to do was to always, always, always keep your cool and don't dignify stupid questions or flippant remarks with answers) but i'd say what he did was pretty much justified.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 9:06 PM on June 4, 2005


Look. It's not hard. When someone from legitimate authority points a weapon at you and says they're going to hurt you unless you comply, you comply. If your brain is incapable of functioning well enough to tell you this, well, the Darwin awards await you.

Well, beth, next time you wonder why you lefties get fucked up the ass on regular basis nowdays here in the US, there's your answer. If all it takes for you to comply is someone "in authority" telling you to do so, and you consider that as absolute right and beyond discussion, then you really deserve everything that is happening to this country of yours. It really is pretty sad, if I may say so.
posted by c13 at 9:16 PM on June 4, 2005


Not any more than your ridiculous belief that the police are apparently always on your side and would never do wrong. For the record, do you really think a cop has never made such a command (or a similar one?)?

1. I never said nor believed that "the police are apparently always on your side and would never do wrong". They are fallible human beings just like everyone else. I just think when a cop gives you a lawful order, and repeats it, and threatens to use a weapon on you, and you STILL don't comply, you have no one to blame but yourself when lo, the weapon is used on you.

2. Certainly I am aware that there are police officers who abuse their authority and ask for things for which they themselves should be imprisoned. I really don't see how your bringing this up is germane at all whatsoever. It seems pretty clearly established in this thread that telling the woman to exit her vehicle was a perfectly lawful and appropriate command. That is what is under discussion, not some hypothetical cop somewhere hypothetically asking someone to fellate him and tasering them if they don't comply.
posted by beth at 9:21 PM on June 4, 2005


Sinner, stop being a bonehead. Being ordered to fellate an officer is against the law.
posted by buzzman at 9:23 PM on June 4, 2005


grouse : "Did you miss the part of the web site where one of the department's training officers explains that this is exactly what their training would demand, and why it is better than using other kinds of force?"

Yes and no. I did miss the part where it's explained that it's part of training, but I did see (or rather, hear) the part where he explains why it's better than using other kinds of force. But, truth be told, even though I don't think the cop was a jackbooted gestapo officer, I don't really find the defense of a policeman by another active policeman to be very convincing, so I disregarded it.

c13 "And of course you cannot possibly imagine, if a threshold for using a tazer (or any other form of force) is lowered THAT far, that next time it might be you? You might have a valid lisence, but you're slow getting out of the car, the cops may have a case of mistaken identity, or it may have nothing to do with moving vehicles altogether. Do you really prefer to get tazed 'just in case'? "

Sure, I could imagine it, just like I can imagine waking up one morning to find a blue pig growing out of my elbow. But, no, that video does not cause me to believe that since they'd tazer someone for noncompliance, that they'd tazer someone for compliance. That's the equivalent of opposing airplanes, because if they land airplanes at airports, they might land an airplane on my front lawn next time.

cedar : "Dude, I don't want MY mother driving around without a license and hearing aid. I guess that makes me an asshole."

Count me in as well. If my mom can't hear and doesn't have a license, I don't want her driving around. I suppose I'm an asshole too. Plus, my mom is the kind of person who would say "What?" if she couldn't hear an officer's orders (and the kind of person who would put her hands up if a tazer was pointed at her). So, no, I'm not really worried about "what if this happened to my mom", any more than "what if my mom had been on the Hindenburg?". Apparently, inability to imagine extraordinarily unlikely situations makes me an asshole.

That said, c13, what if your mom was a cop, and the lady in the car shot her? Hadn't imagined that, had you?

Sinner : "this is the thread I'm going to point to the next time someone tries to argue that MeFi is a purely lefty stronghold."

I dunno, you'd be surprised. I'm supporting the cop here (or, to be more clear: I'm supporting the first tazering as being assholish but within acceptable parameters, and the second tazering as being far more assholish, and deserving investigation), but I'm pretty durn leftist. There may be more folks here like me.

c13 : "Is it of any use to remind the fact that it is up to the court to deside that? Not you or the cops?"

As mentioned earlier, this is not as cut and dried as it seems. For example, if a cop sees a murder in progress, he can shoot the murderer. It is, in that case, for the cop to decide. I'm not sure the law on this particular case, but keep in mind that it isn't always for the courts and not the cops to decide.

c13 : "And what does this say about the quality of the cops if two big guys are so scared of a 22 year old female talking on a phone that the best thing they can think of is zap her 30 seconds into the arrest? Do they do it in your country as well?"

Nah, the women generally obey the police (sorry, being flippant, but I live in Japan, and you asked).

c13 : "So then it is fine that people should think of the cops as dangerous, unpredictable, scared phycopaths? That's normal? They should not be calm professionals who, in the face of danger (real or perceived) would not loose their minds?"

The answers are kinda, sometimes, and yes.
- It's fine for people to think cops are dangerous, unpredictable, and scared psychopaths, if they in fact are. Whenever I deal with police I consider myself to be dealing with a bully, and it's worked out for me.
- It is normal to think of them that way, because that's what they are.
- They should be calm professionals, but that sure as hell isn't going to happen. They'll either be aggressive psychos, lazy bribe-collectors, ineffectual figureheads, or a variety of other relatively useless roles, depending on what country you live in and where in that country you live. It shouldn't be that way, but then again, little children shouldn't die from cancer either, but it happens.

notreally : "Librul mefites beware. Wingnuts have successfully invaded The Blue."

Where? Where?

Sinner : "Not to go with the slippery slope thing, but if she'd been told to fellate the officer, should she have complied there, too?"

That's a weird way to phrase the question, but, if answered just as you phrased it: Yes. If a cop points a gun at my head and tells me to fellate him or he'll shoot me, FUCK YES I should fellate him because I DON'T WANT TO DIE. Now, should the cop be able to make that demand? HELL NO. But in the hypothetical situation you put forth, you should balance your options and make the best choice possible for your situation. If she found tazing preferable to fellatio, she shouldn't fellate him. If she found fellatio preferable to tazing, she should fellate him. But I suspect that's not the way you meant to phrase your point.

c13 : "If all it takes for you to comply is someone 'in authority' telling you to do so, and you consider that as absolute right and beyond discussion, then you really deserve everything that is happening to this country of yours."

Well, I suppose if she believed everyone should oppose the folks with guns when they give orders, then we'd have a bunch of dead liberals. As a liberal, I'd rather be alive in a shitty situation than dead. So, yeah, I suppose I "deserve" it for not getting my ass killed.

So, c13, if somebody pulls a gun on you and mugs you, do you give them your money? If so, you deserve it. It's pretty sad. If not, well, then, enjoy the afterlife in exchange for the $20 in your pocket.
posted by Bugbread at 9:23 PM on June 4, 2005


If all it takes for you to comply is someone "in authority" telling you to do so, and you consider that as absolute right and beyond discussion

I never said it was "absolute right" nor "beyond discussion". I was referring to the case discussed in the thread - an actual, on-duty, uniformed police officer giving a reasonable and lawful order for a woman to exit her vehicle.

You guys should really argue the issue at hand not some other issue you want to try to bring up to make it look like I'm being unreasonable. Duh, authority can be abused. Look at Abu Ghraib. I am not an idiot.
posted by beth at 9:24 PM on June 4, 2005


Sinner - I've now watched the video to the point of the second deployment of the taser. I stand by what I wrote - she was completely clear in saying that she knew she was under arrest, and comprehended all the demands made of her, without complying with any of them. I think it's regrettable what occured to her, but I don't fault the police from what I can gather from the video alone.

Did you read the case I linked to? Do you agree it is analogous?
posted by birdsquared at 9:34 PM on June 4, 2005


Beth -

While I'll grant that the "fellate" remark was excessive, and won't waste any more time defending it, c13 makes my point more eloquently.
c13: "If all it takes for you to comply is someone "in authority" telling you to do so, and you consider that as absolute right and beyond discussion, then you really deserve everything that is happening to this country of yours. It really is pretty sad, if I may say so."


> I just think when a cop gives you a lawful order, and
> repeats it, and threatens to use a weapon on you, and
> you STILL don't comply, you have no one to blame but
> yourself when lo, the weapon is used on you.

And I think that you're entitled (not by law, perhaps, but by basic human decency and good judgement) to more than thirty seconds or so of warning. I can't say enough that I am not an absolutist and do not think that she could not have deserved the taser at some later point. But I fervently believe that she did not deserve it at that point, given that little warning.

Both of our standards here are arbitrary, but why do you seem so interested in his repetition of ihs warning? Why not just say it once and then immediately fire? Why does she deserve the single warning, or the repetition, or the couple that followed? To me the reason is to give her an opportunity to calm down and avoid using force. The spirit of this motivation is not at all evident in the video.

> 2. That is what is under discussion, not some hypothetical
> cop somewhere hypothetically asking someone to fellate
> him and tasering them if they don't comply.

Which is exactly why I initially said "realizing that that's not quite what you were getting at, placing her in an extremely high-stress situation and giving her an infinitesimal amount of time to comply really reduces her eligibility for the Darwin awards."
posted by Sinner at 9:36 PM on June 4, 2005


birdsquared - I wish you'd replied sooner as I have to head out shortly and won't be able to respond at any length now or for much of the rest of the night. That said, yes, I did read the summary you linked to.

I think that that judgment was surprising and I'm not sure I agree with it. However, it is a precedent (if in a different nation). So I'll address it as best I can. There were a few specific details that I found telling.

1.[5] However, he was a man known to the police to be quite dangerous when people tried to arrest him. He is known to flee in vehicles, to ram police cars and to otherwise be violent, so it was decided by the leader of the team, Cpl. Pettit, to try and make an arrest once he was away from the car.

There is no reason to believe that she is dangerous in any way. She is driving on a suspended license, which is indeed a criminal offense (assuming a judge's confirmation), but is a non-violent offender. All of those aggravating factors weigh heavily on my belief that this woman's treatment was too harsh/rash. If she were a cop-killer or her record was for assaults and/or murders, I would feel much differently.

2. He fled. She didn't. She may have resisted exiting the vehicle, but was not violent nor was she attempting to flee the scene. Though she was impolite when pulled over, she still did in fact pull over and made no effort to leave when the officer walked back to his radio.

Really, the main similarity I can find here is the kick to the head, which bordered on the excessive in much the same way that I think the second tasering did. But I also think gender differences play some small role here, as does criminal background.

I wish I could write more but am heading out shortly.
posted by Sinner at 9:48 PM on June 4, 2005


why do you seem so interested in his repetition of ihs warning?

Because it means she had multiple chances to comply. He gave her a clear out, and she freely chose not to take it. She might have misheard him the first time, or not believed him. When it was repeated, I think the odds of her being certain of what he meant were just about 100%. In my mind, it is important to my position on the cop's use of force to know that she really understood what was expected of her before he used the taser on her. I believe she did, and she willfully chose to accept the consequences of her choice. To me, 30 seconds is plenty of time to either comply or state you are about to comply.

Being on the phone is a bullshit excuse not to deal with the police officer who is telling you to do something, armed with a weapon, pointed at you, that he says he will use if you don't comply.

Being pulled over is a high-stress situation, sure. But that means it's even *more* important not to screw up by giving the cop any excuse whatsoever to use force on you. This is America. Anyone could have a gun they could pull on a cop in an instant. They have to act with that worst-case scenario in the back of their minds at all times. It comes with the job.

If the cop sees a respectful, attentive driver who does what he requests, he's not likely to fly off the handle and start thumping the person. When you disobey a lawful order from a cop, that gets the cop's mind going into dangerous territory about what kind of crap you might try. That would make him nervous, and more likely to use force.

She chose what category of person she put herself into - the noncompliant category. The cop didn't do that to her.
posted by beth at 9:53 PM on June 4, 2005


I never said it was "absolute right" nor "beyond discussion". I was referring to the case discussed in the thread - an actual, on-duty, uniformed police officer giving a reasonable and lawful order for a woman to exit her vehicle.

Yeah, just like those evil WTO protesters who were tazed for not disbanning or refusing to enter "Free speach zones". But that's just an example, it really has nothing to do with the case under consideration.

Bugbread, too many comments all at once, o Rational One.
Yes. If a cop points a gun at my head and tells me to fellate him or he'll shoot me, FUCK YES I should fellate him because I DON'T WANT TO DIE.
It is normal to think of them that way, because that's what they are.
- They should be calm professionals, but that sure as hell isn't going to happen.

Well, I suppose if she believed everyone should oppose the folks with guns when they give orders, then we'd have a bunch of dead liberals. As a liberal, I'd rather be alive in a shitty situation than dead.
That's pretty sad, man.

By the way, these MeFi hangups are really becoming annoying..
posted by c13 at 10:40 PM on June 4, 2005


Bugbread, I agree with how you treat cops, and I do the same. They have a lot of bully behavior, and they can use it without having to ask permission. They are also armed.
I do what they say; and no matter the latent adolescent scenario that I have been in, I have yet to be beat, abused, shoved, kicked, or otherwise harmed. Once they know of the submission to authority, I have been treated with respect.

As much as this post has fallen to hypothesis, I am pretty sure that she would have been on the phone for at least a half hour, then she would have wanted to call someone else, then she would have been late to pick up her child, then she would have needed to use the restroom, then she would have needed to eat, then she would have needed to call her friend back to let her know the cops were still outside her car, ... ... .... then there would be a news crew, 12 cop cars, a small group of people watching, dozens of her friends would have shown up to help her, ... I mean, the cops wrap small stuff up fast so that large messes do not have a chance to evolve.

I'm glad she is off the road. No insurance, suspended license, 52 in a 35, broken windshield, brakelight out, passing in the slow lane; seriously... do you want drivers like this driving around YOUR neighborhood?
posted by buzzman at 10:41 PM on June 4, 2005


c13 : "That's pretty sad, man. "

Yes, it's sad. The world is a shitty place. But shitty is better than dead.

buzzman : "I'm glad she is off the road. No insurance, suspended license, 52 in a 35, broken windshield, brakelight out, passing in the slow lane; seriously... do you want drivers like this driving around YOUR neighborhood?"

Buzzman, to be fair, that's not really the issue. Both the people who support tazing and the people opposed to tazing are happy she's off the road. That's not the point in contention.
posted by Bugbread at 10:44 PM on June 4, 2005


Why do people keep bringing up other situations? You know, I haven't done a deep and in-depth research into each and every incident involving the police with the WTO protests, but I believe that there probably was at least one case in which police force was used inappropriately. You really want to know what I think people should do in that case? Three things: 1. Film it, preferably with video and full sound, if you see it happening to someone else but you are safe (at the moment). 2. Go the hell home. Be a winner by avoiding pepper spray, tasing, beatings, etc. 3. File a lawsuit if something happened to yourself, or offer up your footage and photos to people you saw being abused. Let the courts have it out.

But this isn't about the WTO. It's about a completely justified situation, a reasonable, repeated order, threat of violence, failure to comply in a reasonable time, and eventual use of violence exactly as had been warned against.

Bringing up situations when cops *do* fuck up and use force inappropriately does not bear on *this* case.

(Okay, I am I talking about the first tasering here, not the second shot)
posted by beth at 10:49 PM on June 4, 2005


Go the hell home.
The world is a shitty place. But shitty is better than dead.


.
posted by c13 at 10:55 PM on June 4, 2005


Sinner;
It is exactly because of the kick to the head that I suggested the case was apropos. That and Inspector John McKay's evidence, which was quoted by the judge: "The phrases and the words he used I think are very apt: the officer has to improvise, adapt, and overcome."

I am not suggesting the case is on all fours, few ever are. I can say that the case I linked to does not diverge from the jurisprudence I'm familiar with.

you write:She is driving on a suspended license, which is indeed a criminal offense (assuming a judge's confirmation)
The police are generally (jurisdictionally variable) entitled to arrest, with all concomittent powers, anyone they find committing an offence. They need only to have reasonable and probable grounds for that arrest for it to be lawful. Whether the accused is ultimately convicted or acquitted has no bearing on the lawfulness of the arrest.
posted by birdsquared at 11:02 PM on June 4, 2005


Oh for christ's sake! I love how the "anti-cop" side of this debate keeps moving the discussion from "lawbreaking woman who deliberately disobeyed a reasonable request, repeatedly given, with escalating consequences" to wild hyperbole like "oh yeah, well what if the cop had demanded a blowjob?" or "if you do whatever a person in authority tells you to do, you're just a sheep handing over all your rights & god help you!!!". Seriously, people (and by people, I clearly mean Sinner & c13), we're not talking about fellatio, we're not talking about the unequivocal surrender of all our rights, we're talking about:
obeying the law
a reasonable, well known law
in broad daylight
on camera
in the presence of multiple officers
with no indication of malfeasance
repeatedly stated
following all proper police procedure & training

Stop trying to draw invalid comparisons, this situation largely occurred as it should have. Perhaps a shade too quick on the second taser shot, but not the "jackbooted thugs, surrender your rights, nazi state gestapo bs" you keep spouting. And don't threaten my teeth, c13, it's childish.
posted by jonson at 11:17 PM on June 4, 2005


I threatened your teeth? Well, sorry.
posted by c13 at 11:41 PM on June 4, 2005


Still- "Don't comply w/in 30 seconds- get tazered" is setting the bar way loww. This will come back to bite non-violent protesters in short order. The tree huggers had their eyes swabbed with pepper spray for failing to comply with an order. If I remember correctly this was disallowed (but that was californi-a). It is a very short step from here, this stupid woman, and NYC during the repub convention to:
"Get off the street or you will be tazered"
"Get off the street or you will be tazered"
"Get off the street or you will be tazered"
"Get off the street or you will be tazered"
"Get off the street or you will be tazered"
Zap-o you america haters!

I would think noncompliance is the same to an officer whether its a traffic stop or a non-violent illegal march.
Gandhi prevailed because the violence directed against his movement was perceived as unacceptable. He would so lose here today.

2. Go the hell home.
posted by pointilist at 11:50 PM on June 4, 2005


c13 : "Go the hell home. "

Taking that completely out of context, eh? "Go home (i.e. don't run up to the cop and try to steal his gun off him or hit him with a lead pipe), followed by "File a lawsuit if something happened to yourself, or offer up your footage and photos to people you saw being abused."

What would you honestly rather us do? If I see a cop, armed with a gun and a partner, beating someone up, and I film it, what would you have me do next? Confront the cop and get my ass beat up as well, for no good gain? Or go home, and release the tape to the public to get an investigation started? Why is choosing the most efficacious result "sad"?

pointilist : "I would think noncompliance is the same to an officer whether its a traffic stop or a non-violent illegal march."

I would think that a police officer would be more scared about a person in a vehicle, possibly armed, than a bunch of nonviolent protesters. I also think that if the nonviolent protesters have done their paperwork, that there would be no reason for the police to tell them to get off the street. But, foremost, I think that in today's American political climate, you wouldn't be granted the paperwork. As such, the best course of action is to protest, refuse to get off the street, while remaining nonviolent, get tazered, and thereby get on the TV. Protests by themselves accomplish nothing but making the participants feel good. However, footage of people en masse getting tazered for protesting gets coverage, sympathy, and discussion.
posted by Bugbread at 12:01 AM on June 5, 2005


This was a ridiculous misuse of force. I could have gotten this lady off the phone and out of the car. Two grown men, professionally trained in self defence and various compliance holds could easily have handled that lady without any physical damage to her or them.


Methinks Officer Friendly was itching for an opportunity to light someone up.
posted by stenseng at 12:27 AM on June 5, 2005


Bugbread, what the fuck, man? What the hell have you been smoking? The "go the hell home" quote came from beth. She didn't say anything about "File a lawsuit if something happened to yourself, or offer up your footage and photos to people you saw being abused."
What are you talking about? What would you honestly rather us do? If I see a cop, armed with a gun and a partner, beating someone up, and I film it, what would you have me do next? Confront the cop and get my ass beat up as well, for no good gain? Or go home, and release the tape to the public to get an investigation started?
I, and others, are here arguing with people that have seen a god damned video and are completely fine with it. How is making a video is most efficacious?
footage of people en masse getting tazered for protesting gets coverage, sympathy, and discussion.
Again, is THAT what left is supposed to represent? And you people wonder why you lost the elections?
posted by c13 at 12:28 AM on June 5, 2005


I would think that a police officer would be more scared about a person in a vehicle, possibly armed, than a bunch of nonviolent protesters.

gotta disagree. don't have links but lots of coverage of past protests disputes that police response would be less violent.

However, footage of people en masse getting tazered for protesting gets coverage, sympathy, and discussion.

If this thread is any indication (from the lefty stronghold and all that) sympathy would be sorely lacking from the great middle. "they asked for it they got it"

c13- sorry man-read her post again.

Night y'all *goes home*
posted by pointilist at 12:48 AM on June 5, 2005


c13 : "Bugbread, what the fuck, man? What the hell have you been smoking? The 'go the hell home' quote came from beth. She didn't say anything about 'File a lawsuit if something happened to yourself, or offer up your footage and photos to people you saw being abused.'"

Yes, she did.

beth wrote "2. Go the hell home. Be a winner by avoiding pepper spray, tasing, beatings, etc. 3. File a lawsuit if something happened to yourself, or offer up your footage and photos to people you saw being abused. Let the courts have it out. "

c13 : "What are you talking about? (in reference to Bugbread: What would you honestly rather us do?) I, and others, are here arguing with people that have seen a god damned video and are completely fine with it. How is making a video is most efficacious?"

True, apparently it isn't as efficacious as you'd hope. But what do you recommend? From what I can tell, you're saying "He shouldn't have tased her for not getting out of the car", but you're also saying "If you get out of the car just because a cop threatens you, you deserve to be tased." When I say "If a cop is pointing his taser at you and says to get out of the car, you should get out of the car", you say that's sad. So what should I do? Sit in the car and get tased?

You bring up WTO. Beth says "Videotape the police brutality. Go home. Release the video." and you reply with "." What should she do, then? Run at the cops with a stick?

pointilist : "gotta disagree. don't have links but lots of coverage of past protests disputes that police response would be less violent."

You're right, of course. I probably should have clarified that, in this case, I think a noncompliant motorist pulled over for a legitimate offence is more likely to be dangerous than a protester whose offence merely is noncompliance. So, if I were a cop, I'd find the former situation scarier. However, I believe that cops (not being me) would actually be just as violent (if not more) against protesters as they are against traffic violators, hence my part three about civil disobedience.

pointilist : "If this thread is any indication (from the lefty stronghold and all that) sympathy would be sorely lacking from the great middle. 'they asked for it they got it'"

True. Not at the start. It's the culmination of the scene repeated over and over again that gets sympathy. The civil rights movement and Vietnam protests are good examples. "Bunch of uppity blacks and hippies" the first time people see folks getting hosed, but after seeing person after person getting hosed down intentionally (i.e. not protesting and happening to get hosed/tazed, but protesting even though they know for a fact that they'll get hosed or tazed), the general populace turns to sympathy. At least, that's how it's been historically.
posted by Bugbread at 1:53 AM on June 5, 2005


I'm coming in late here, and I read about 75% of the 300 posts. But I've got a little commentary.

For a while, I wanted to be a cop. I have a problem with people who flaunt rules that are there to protect everyone. There are some rules that are useless, there are some that aren't enforced on purpose unless you act like a dick to the officer, in which case they'll act as a dick back to you. Yeah, they're human too.

Having studied the career of a law officer, I've learned that they have what's called a "Continuum of Force" -- In other words, they start out at a basic level. They ask you to get out of the car. When you don't, they attempt to remove you physically. If you resist physically, they will move to the next level on the continuum of force. This point is typically one of three things. The first is an increased amount of physical force. However, this doesn't work in a situation where the person you're attempting to restrain is inside a vehicle that they can drive off with you half in while you're struggling, so officers are trained to use either a chemical (i.e. Mace or pepper spray) or other form of incapacitating device on the person. If they have a taser, this is the point where they will use it. They will use a taser over pepper spray because they will not want the contamination issues that come with it. They will use a taser because it's clean, simple, and doesn't have many lasting effects.
Not getting tased is easy, though. Step out of the car. (duh.)
Further escalation of force, i.e. the case where an officer tased a suspect five times and he was too drunk to notice, usually means drawing a gun and firing. This officer did precisely what his training and his department's policy said, and even beyond that, he made the right decisions at all the right times.

Yes, a taser is a weapon, and a taser can kill people. A police baton, extendable or not, can also kill people. An improperly executed headlock during a struggle can kill people. A knife to the officer's gut that was sitting under her leg where she hid it during the stop could kill him. (Ballistic vests don't stop knives.) Tasing her in this situation probably kept her from getting more than a few bruises -- if she'd fought, she might have a few broken bones or could've gotten shot. Cops are trained to protect bystanders first, then themselves, then whatever they're arresting last.

This woman is someone who has continuously refused to accept responsibility for her actions and has used ever possible method to get out of her responsibilities. Her responsibility is to keep her driving record clean and her license current. If she doesn't, then her responsibility is not to drive. Her responsibility is to follow the directions of a law officer -- not continue to smoke her cigarette, talk on her cell phone, and create a confrontation where there didn't need to be one. I, for one, have no sympathy whatsoever. What's worse is that he warned her several times before each step he took that he was about to take the next step. If she, at any point, had obeyed the very simple instructions that the officer gave her ... well, things would've gone smoothly, she would've gone to jail, probably moaning the whole time about the jackbooted thugs that were hauling her off because she was an irresponsible cunt.

Life has consequences. Are you people seriously saying that you support not having anyone reinforce those consequences? Holy shit, that's why kids these days are stumps. They never learn what consequences are. I'd say something along the lines of "fucking liberal idiots", but that's the kind of thing that gets people labeled as a jackbooted thug around here...

RE: the protests ... I've seen protests in person in Portland, and I've seen footage of protests from elsewhere. The thing you have to keep in mind from the protests is that it's a very narrow point of view. Put glasses or something on that limits your field of vision to a few degrees ... so you can only see what you're directly look at. That's all you're seeing. On top of that, the footage has been edited to present the message that the editor wants it to present, and to have the energy that they want it to present. I was on a roof directly overlooking part of the anti-war protests in Portland about two-three years ago. I watched as there was a mainly peaceful march with a lot of people saying things that were good messages. And then there were these small bands of people running around wreaking havoc. One threw a makeshift bolo between the legs of a police horse, causing the horse to fall with the rider on it. He got pepper sprayed and arrested immediately, and ... christ, I hope he got his ass kicked for it. No reason to hurt an innocent animal. However, several other people who were standing behind him got pepper sprayed too, accidentally as officers were responding to an emergency situation with the best form of nonlethal, ranged restraint that they had at hand ... and guess what was in the protest video when it was released? The innocent protesters with a jet of pepper spray coming out of nowhere. It didn't show the officers helping the innocent protesters to clean themselves off, providing emergency wipes and getting them medical attention. I mean, you couldn't think that jackbooted thugs would apologize to some people that happened to be standing behind an idiot when the idiot did something stupid ... they might have a heart.
The moral: Think about who's telling you the story. Where is your media coming from?

Look, cops deal with this kind of shit every day. I don't deal well with it. That's why I declined the opportunity to enter the police force in my locality, even with the promise of rapid promotion and what I thought was my dream job (Motorcycle traffic officer). Have a little respect for the people that deal with the dregs of humanity, and think about what they do, what they deal with every day, and exactly why someone needs to do what they're doing before you call them jackbooted thugs.
posted by SpecialK at 2:12 AM on June 5, 2005


On thread reread:

c13 : "If all it takes for you to comply is someone 'in authority' telling you to do so, and you consider that as absolute right and beyond discussion, then you really deserve everything that is happening to this country of yours. It really is pretty sad, if I may say so."

You're right, that is pretty sad, but...is anyone here actually saying that?

SpecialK : "I'd say something along the lines of 'fucking liberal idiots'"

You'd probably better not, though. Not because it would get you labelled a jackbooted thug, but because apparently quite a few of us supporting the officer's actions are also liberals. It would just be a pointless and inaccurate statement if you said it.
posted by Bugbread at 2:26 AM on June 5, 2005


"the dregs of humanity" -Special K

I think you've given away what most people in this thread really think. Not that you're for violence necessarily, but that among us are people who are "the dregs of humanity" and that they got themselves there by their irresponsibility. It's very telling. Basically, from what I can tell, many of you believe there's a whole group of scumbags living in the country that are just vile and have it coming to them. Instead of helping them, by all means we should use whatever means necessary to teach them a lesson. Bravo. This isn't about the police and tasers, it's about forgetting the people we already never talk about and making the streets safer for us good people who follow the rules. Maybe, just maybe, it's not so simple to follow the rules for absolutely everybody, when the rules aren't fairly applied to them, ever.
posted by faux ami at 2:49 AM on June 5, 2005


faux ami : "I think you've given away what most people in this thread really think. Not that you're for violence necessarily, but that among us are people who are 'the dregs of humanity' and that they got themselves there by their irresponsibility. It's very telling."

I think that you've given away what most people in this thread really think. Not that you're against violence, necessarily, but that you consider the police the "dregs of humanity", and that anything they do is evil. It's very telling.

Or, you know, people have different opinions for different reasons, but you'd really like to pigeonhole people who disagree with you being really eeeevil. One of the two.

Either way, "it's very telling".
posted by Bugbread at 3:56 AM on June 5, 2005


I just watched the video for a second time, and I loathe police officers. But I felt bad for the ones in that video and I was hoping that they could give that loud, melodramatic bitch a third dose. Or just shove her into traffic or something-- she's a waste of transplantable organs.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:16 AM on June 5, 2005


SpecialK,
You throw everything you wrote in the garbage by using phrases like "irresponsible c***" and
"dregs of humanity". Shame on you.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:16 AM on June 5, 2005


No, bugbread. I think the police are mostly in the same boat as the people they're "protecting." That is practically working poor. Most people commenting here probably never had to deal with the police in such similarly extreme circumstances. But one way to forget about the issue entirely is to have this debate we're having. Instead of understanding that maybe this woman didn't have the money to fix her car or whatever reasons (noone's even interested in that) or that maybe the policeman has his reasons for being aggressive (we did explore that), we concluded that the woman was not obeying the rules. I'm suggesting that the rules are already ridiculously skewed both against the woman here and the policeman and that it's amazing how we set the two up against each other to play out a social drama which disguises the fact that they're both screwed, the two of them, and most of us are just fine. I find this argument demeaning to the both of them, from both sides.
posted by faux ami at 8:55 AM on June 5, 2005


Shame on me, I find myself laughing when I watch the video. Instead of a beauty competition, she needs to enter into a drama queen competition. The attitude from the first words she speaks to the officer, the "I can't get out of the car because I am making a phone call", all those "ooooooos"...
Third times a charm!
posted by buzzman at 9:02 AM on June 5, 2005


bugbread, don't be childish... it's not nearly as constructive as some of your other arguments have been up-thread.

To those claiming the woman was potentially a threat due to hidden weapons, or being able to drive off, have you watched all the footage available on the website, or just the auto-loaded clip? The auto-loaded clip only shows the footage directly before the tazering. The others show multiple instances where the officer would be shot in the face if, in fact, this woman were armed and intended to do that. It also shows plenty of times when she could drive off, but doesn't.

Moreover, in the actual tazering situation, the car is not running, the woman is in full view of the officer, her door is completely open, she does not have her seat-belt on, at least one of her hands is holding a cellphone, the officer is not in danger of being run over (even if the car were running), and for the remainder of the situation, the woman is completely and undeniably at risk of being tazed literally in a fraction of a second.

For the last time; these officers are not in danger. They have the upper hand in this situation. Not other situations, but this situation, which is what we're discussing.

There is no use arguing that the officer acted in defense of an imagined threat, because he was in complete control of such potential threats during the end of the video, and completely ignored the potential threats during the beginning of the traffic stop, showing conclusively that he was not concerned about hidden weapons.

Also, the only time I hear the word "arrest" is long after the woman has been tazed twice. Is this not correct? She may be in police custody, but she wasn't "arrested" until then.
posted by odinsdream at 9:45 AM on June 5, 2005


buzzman:
> Shame on me, I find myself laughing when
> I watch the video. Instead of a beauty competition, she
> needs to enter into a drama queen competition. The
> attitude from the first words she speaks to the officer, the
> "I can't get out of the car because I am making a phone
> call", all those "ooooooos"...
>
> Third times a charm!

Yes, shame on you indeed. While I disagree with the statements of a lot of people in the thread, you're one of the few who makes me wish you actually had to undergo the same treatment to get it knocked/shocked into your skull how shortsighted your point of view is.

Even the people with whom I disagree on her treatment aren't espousing the viewpoint that "drama queen" == tasering.

This isn't fark - we don't tend to do the "it's hilarious when people are brutally hurt" thing here. Whether it was justified or not.

A nice troll though - congratulations on completely destroying any potential credibility you might have had.
posted by Sinner at 10:53 AM on June 5, 2005


Forgot to include SpecialK's little "dregs of humanity" turd in the above post regarding buzzman. It was intended to address you, too.
posted by Sinner at 10:54 AM on June 5, 2005


Why don't Buzzman and SpecialK get tshirts made up with the logo "f*** irresponsible drama c****s" on them, then they could laugh until tears plopped into their beers.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:01 AM on June 5, 2005


birdsquared wrote:

> It is exactly because of the kick to the head that I
> suggested the case was apropos. That and Inspector
> John McKay's evidence, which was quoted by the judge:
> "The phrases and the words he used I think are very apt:
> the officer has to improvise, adapt, and overcome."

This only returns us to the substance of the debate. No one's questioning whether officers need to be flexible, it's a simple (yet complex, I guess) question of whether his "improvised, adapted" actions in this case were necessary or justifiable to "overcome" the subject. I would say (for the umpteenth time) that they were not, but that they could have become increasingly so as time passed or if/as she became any sort of a threat (even if she'd turned the key in the ignition). Since the officer never reported her having done so into the radio, I think we can fairly say those were not motivating factors.

> The police are generally (jurisdictionally variable) entitled
> to arrest, with all concomittent powers, anyone they find
> committing an offence. They need only to have
> reasonable and probable grounds for that arrest for it to
> be lawful. Whether the accused is ultimately convicted or
> acquitted has no bearing on the lawfulness of the arrest.

This is utterly irrelevant. If you had read my post more carefully, perhaps you would have noticed that I was simply granting that she was in fact a criminal. Your response to my point ignores the much larger issue of her not having a history of violence (as far as we know) and of her not having attempted to flee. Both of which would make me far more inclined to believe that the "precedent" was applicable and that the tasing was justified.
posted by Sinner at 11:06 AM on June 5, 2005


Jody Tresidder, Please do not associate me with profanity.

I meant no trolling, but inasmuch as she never got any money for a lawsuit that not even a pro bono lawyer would pursue; I find that she received a by the book response from the officer.

And I still find it amusing.
posted by buzzman at 11:13 AM on June 5, 2005


jonson and beth

jonson
> Seriously, people (and by people, I clearly mean Sinner &
> c13), we're not talking about fellatio, we're not talking
> about the unequivocal surrender of all our rights,

If you'd bothered to actually read what I wrote, you'd see that I phrased the "wild hyperbole" of the "fellate" comment as a rhetorical statement twice, and eventually discarded it anyway for the sake of a more expedient discussion.

That said, I really think you're missing the subtler aspect of my point, which I can only re-state: it's not that she should never have been tased, nor that no one should ever be tased. It's that at this particular point, she should not have been.

Beth argued that the victim's "decision" to ignore the repetition of the warning is what provided justification for the tasing as a means of removing her. I think, however, that the repetition is itself a tacit admission of how the police acknowledge that a peaceful solution is an ideal one. I simply don't believe that adequate time was devoted to finding such a solution, and I think that there's a slippery slope in either direction. On the one hand, the hyperbolic "have-the-shock-troopers-gas-her-as-soon-
as-she-pulls- over," and on the other, the "four-hour club."

I said before and will say again that I think that if they'd devoted an arbitrary ten minutes to getting this woman out of the car, while as odinsdream mentioned , "[maintaining] the upper hand in this situation... and [remaining out of] any danger," by keeping the taser drawn on her and the keys out of the ignition, they could have removed her without causing her any pain and without further sullying the reputation of the police. (Which, I'll note, is the absurd backwards justification for the bad behavior of these cops by some of you - "Everyone knows cops are assholes, so expect them to be an asshole to you." Actually, I prefer to think that the onus is on them not to be assholes, especially when debating what should have happened in an ideal situation.)

I also don't think that outside of the topic of the thread, there's been too much of the "jackbooted thugs, surrender your rights, nazi state gestapo bs," that jonson alluded to. Generally the discussion has been about overeager cops making bad decisions and how asking cops to use better judgement would be a good idea (while saying they don't have to do so gives them too much power).
posted by Sinner at 11:33 AM on June 5, 2005


buzzman:

> I meant no trolling,

Well, you pulled it off pretty well for an amateur.

> but inasmuch as she never got any money for a lawsuit
> that not even a pro bono lawyer would pursue; I find that
> she received a by the book response from the officer.

Of course, because there's never been an occasion in which a a court rendered a bad judgement. I don't have a link that says anything about having received no money, but the Palm Beach Post site does say that the state of Florida is reviewing their practices in light of the outcry over this and associated uses of tasers. So, using your circular logic, I guess they're admitting that their book may be wrong.

> And I still find it amusing.

And I still am very pleased not to know you. That's the thing - even if I don't agree with most all of the cop-defenders here, at least they have some sense of decency, if not necessarily sympathy/empathy. "Got what she deserved" is one thing, but to find it amusing is another. Why don't you get back to whaling on your kids or blowing up frogs or some other such glorious preoccupation?
posted by Sinner at 11:42 AM on June 5, 2005


Well, what part of "get out of the car or I am going to tas you" did the individual not understand?
Idiocy like this starts in our current school system, and ends individuals up in prison when they can not comply with the most simple of requests from authority figures.

Good God, that woman is screaming like a stuck pig. On the other hand, that might just be her level in some aspects.

Maybe they could replace Darth Vader's "Nooooooooo" with her voice....
Hate me forever, but the more of this I watch, the more it cracks me up.... good thing this did not occur during the Roman empire, or missy would simply not be around anymore. Or, imagine missy doing this in ANY OTHER COUNTRY EXCEPT FOR THE UNITED STATES.... we all know the answer to that situation.
Nothing follows.
posted by buzzman at 2:44 AM EST on June 4 [!]



Well, I have always complied with what police ask of me and situations evolve in professional manner. ... ~I'm on the phone now so I can't step out of the car ~ ... DUH, no wonder the cop got irritated...
Add onto that, the broken windshield, suspended license, speeding, no seat belt... Hmmm... does anybody want her near their elementary school when class lets out? Driving around their neighborhood?
I say get this person out of the car, and never to be driving a 4,000 pound projectile again.
Either way, some pro-bono Florida lawyer is using Florida taxpayer monies to attempt damages because of this incident. Talk about where liberalism meets the taxpayer! Ha!
posted by buzzman at 3:17 AM EST on June 4 [!]


Shame on me, I find myself laughing when I watch the video. Instead of a beauty competition, she needs to enter into a drama queen competition. The attitude from the first words she speaks to the officer, the "I can't get out of the car because I am making a phone call", all those "ooooooos"...
Third times a charm!
posted by buzzman at 12:02 PM EST on June 5 [!]


And I still find it amusing.
posted by buzzman at 2:13 PM EST on June 5 [!]


Dude, we get it. Can you come up with something else? You've been laughing for ~36 hours straight, slow down, man, you're going to overwork that last little neuron of yours.
I'd hate to see you at a comedy show...
posted by c13 at 12:06 PM on June 5, 2005


faux ami : "No, bugbread. I think the police are mostly in the same boat as the people they're 'protecting.'"

I realize you don't think all cops are evil. That was an example, so that you might realize that we don't all think people pulled over are the "dregs of humanity". My point was just that your "telling" statement wasn't "telling" you what most people here actually think, any more than my "telling" statement told me that you hated all cops. That's all.

odinsdream : "bugbread, don't be childish... it's not nearly as constructive as some of your other arguments have been up-thread."

Yeah, I've been pretty varied on my "keeping the high road" and "wandering the low road" in this thread. Sorry about that.
posted by Bugbread at 12:24 PM on June 5, 2005


Also, the only time I hear the word "arrest" is long after the woman has been tazed twice. Is this not correct? She may be in police custody, but she wasn't "arrested" until then.

why do people keep bringing this up? it's irrelevant! it's not about resisting arrest, it's about general non-compliance!

speaking from training experience again, we were taught to perform roadside arrests in this sequence; and it assumes the suspect(s) are totally compliant:
- tell the suspect to get out of the car
- tell them to face the car and put their hands on the roof
- tell them to spread their feet apart
- ask them if they are carrying any weapons or contraband
- frisk for stuff regardless of answer
- announce arrest, miranda, etc.

nobody likes being arrested. which is why you don't want to share such potentially upsetting information with a person who may or may not be packing a gun or knife before determining they do not possess any such items.

of course, you're free to ignore me and continue armchair speculating, but from field experience this is how i've learned it to be done.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 4:51 PM on June 5, 2005


I bring it up because people keep saying otherwise, and that's false. If you feel like facts about the situation are irrelevant, that's fine. I didn't talk about the implications of the timing, but other people have, and when their point depends on her knowing she's under arrest when the video clearly doesn't support their position, I consider that relevant to the discussion.

Also, as far as I know, "general non-compliance" is not against the law. In this situation, it's probably not about general non-compliance, since being in police custody or under arrest are different than normal environments.

In the sequence you were taught, if you asked them to spread their feet, but they didn't, were you instructed to taze them, or kick their feet apart with yours?
posted by odinsdream at 5:08 PM on June 5, 2005


SpecialK,
You throw everything you wrote in the garbage by using phrases like "irresponsible c***" and
"dregs of humanity". Shame on you.


My apologies for the c*** comment, I tend to use the colloquial, and that's my personal opinion of the woman in question. That the pejorative happens to be in a female context is relfective of only her sex and not the gender at large.

I will not take back the 'dregs of humanity' comment, though -- there always has been a bottom of the barrel, there always will be, no matter how much we help or pity them for their lack of something intangible that we have. </sarcasm> Yes, as some have pointed out, a lot of these people deserve help, either psychological or life-skills counseling. But there's only so much help and gentle guidance you can give someone who is constantly asking, "Why should I?" before you have to demonstrate the why... the why being that there are consequences for their actions that are negative. In this case, this woman (and many others that peace officers of all types have to deal with on a daily basis) have consistently refused to take responsibility for themselves -- and personal responsibility is the foundation of our society and legal system. How do you help someone that completely and totally refuses to take responsibility for themselves? If they aren't taking responsibility for their actions, should they still be held accountable for them?

Yes, they need help, but what help can we give them that will actually help them and won't perpetuate their circumstance?
posted by SpecialK at 6:07 PM on June 5, 2005


In the sequence you were taught, if you asked them to spread their feet, but they didn't, were you instructed to taze them, or kick their feet apart with yours?

Even I can answer that, and the answer is a definitive yes. If someone is not obeying your orders, you make them obey your orders.
posted by SpecialK at 6:12 PM on June 5, 2005


Ziggy Zaga: speaking from training experience again, we were taught to perform roadside arrests in this sequence; and it assumes the suspect(s) are totally compliant:
- tell the suspect to get out of the car
(etc)


Right here, I would probably ask "Why?" If the cop answered "Because I'm placing you under arrest.", well, I would comply. If he moved in closed, puffed up his chest, and yelled at me, "Because I SAID so!!" I probably wouldn't. Do ya see the difference?

The irony is that after reading this response, I think you're 100% right. And to answer my own question, a cop can approach you anywhere, anytime, assuming they have an inkling that any law is being broken (jaywalking, swearing, etc.), and make a lawful question, to which you are legally obliged to comply. If you refuse or take too long, they threaten you with tasing, at which point you are implicitly under arrest. If you continue to refuse or delay, they can legally tase you.

Wow. (Mommy?)

odinsdream: Also, as far as I know, "general non-compliance" is not against the law. In this situation, it's probably not about general non-compliance, since being in police custody or under arrest are different than normal environments.

True, but it appears that anytime a cop threatens the use of force (tase, billy club, etc.), you're auto-magically "under arrest". Any further non-compliance gives you a.) a resisting arrest rap, and b.) eligibility for tasing, concrete rash, or whatever the cop feels is appropriate.

odinsdream: In the sequence you were taught, if you asked them to spread their feet, but they didn't, were you instructed to taze them, or kick their feet apart with yours?

Again, while they may (or may not) have been taught to kick the feet apart, repeat the command, etc., it looks to me that a tasing would be entirely legal.

I think informing the suspect that they have a legal obligation to comply in a given situation is a really, really important thing to do. More important that reading Miranda Rights, IMO.

Guess I'm just itching for a tazing.

Dang, you guys have been busy!! That's what I get for sleeping in...
posted by LordSludge at 6:24 PM on June 5, 2005


Ziggy Zaga: speaking from training experience again, we were taught to perform roadside arrests in this sequence; and it assumes the suspect(s) are totally compliant:
- tell the suspect to get out of the car
(etc)


Right here, I would probably ask "Why?" If the cop answered "Because I'm placing you under arrest.", well, I would comply. If he moved in closed, puffed up his chest, and yelled at me, "Because I SAID so!!" I probably wouldn't. Do ya see the difference?

The irony is that after reading this response, I think you're 100% right. And to answer my own question, a cop can approach you anywhere, anytime, assuming they have an inkling that any law is being broken (jaywalking, swearing, etc.), and make a lawful question, to which you are legally obliged to comply. If you refuse or take too long, they threaten you with tasing, at which point you are implicitly under arrest. If you continue to refuse or delay, they can legally tase you.

Wow. (Mommy?)

odinsdream: Also, as far as I know, "general non-compliance" is not against the law. In this situation, it's probably not about general non-compliance, since being in police custody or under arrest are different than normal environments.

True, but it appears that anytime a cop threatens the use of force (tase, billy club, etc.), you're auto-magically "under arrest". Any further non-compliance gives you a.) a resisting arrest rap, and b.) eligibility for tasing, concrete rash, or whatever the cop feels is appropriate.

odinsdream: In the sequence you were taught, if you asked them to spread their feet, but they didn't, were you instructed to taze them, or kick their feet apart with yours?

Again, while they may (or may not) have been taught to kick the feet apart, repeat the command, etc., it looks to me that a tasing would be entirely legal.

I think informing the suspect that they have a legal obligation to comply in a given situation is a really, really important thing to do. More important than reading Miranda Rights, IMO.

Guess I'm just itching for a tazing.

Dang, you guys have been busy!! That's what I get for sleeping in...
posted by LordSludge at 6:25 PM on June 5, 2005


Oops, sorry for the repeat. (Just wanted to emphasize my point, heh!)
posted by LordSludge at 6:27 PM on June 5, 2005


Grrr.... I guess what bothers me is that this whole thing is wrapped up in some moralesque "you need to respect authority" rather than a clear explanation of legal obligations. Even worse, I suspect that cops, etc., *want* it that way, so that they can use force however they see fit, but have it all retroactively legallized. (And I suspect that, if asked, many if not most cops would have a hard time telling a subject what their legal obligations actually are under a give set of circumstances...)

It would be such an easy thing to just be up front about everything. "I'm placing you under arrest, ma'am. Please step out of the car. If you refuse to comply, I am legally authorized to use force..." would be so much more effective than screaming "GET OUT OF THE CAR OR I WILL TASE YOU!!" at a panicked, but non-threatening suspect.

When I watched the video, I saw a cop who had lost his cool in the face of rudeness and flipped his lid. I can't imagine how I would have reacted, had I been in the woman's place, but being a 6'4", 200lb man, I can guarantee it would have ended much worse for me, the cop(s), or both.
posted by LordSludge at 6:51 PM on June 5, 2005


In the sequence you were taught, if you asked them to spread their feet, but they didn't, were you instructed to taze them, or kick their feet apart with yours?

Even I can answer that, and the answer is a definitive yes. If someone is not obeying your orders, you make them obey your orders.


Wow, you misread my sentence entirely. Here's what I meant:

In the sequence, were you taught to: A) taze them, or B) kick their feet apart.

I think B is completely acceptable, expected, and preferred, while I think A is unnecessary, unprofessional, lazy, and borderline sadistic.

That's what I meant. I didn't mean "would you do these two things at all" as you seem to have thought I did. My position is not that cops shouldn't lay a hand on her. They should absolutely use physical force when necessary, but only as much as is necessary, not more.
posted by odinsdream at 6:54 PM on June 5, 2005


I bring it up because people keep saying otherwise, and that's false. If you feel like facts about the situation are irrelevant, that's fine. I didn't talk about the implications of the timing, but other people have, and when their point depends on her knowing she's under arrest when the video clearly doesn't support their position, I consider that relevant to the discussion.

Also, as far as I know, "general non-compliance" is not against the law. In this situation, it's probably not about general non-compliance, since being in police custody or under arrest are different than normal environments.

In the sequence you were taught, if you asked them to spread their feet, but they didn't, were you instructed to taze them, or kick their feet apart with yours?


first point: ok, now i see why you brought it up. fair enough.

second point: the legal aspects of police work are admittedly not my strongest point; it is actually part of the reason i did not further pursue becoming a police officer. speaking as a civilian though, it is my understanding that when you're operating a vehicle on a state- or federally-funded roadway, you are pretty much obligated to comply with any order an officer of the law issues you. "non-compliance" isn't against the law if you were on private property, but you sign away your rights to be defiant to an officer on public roadways when you accept your license.
if this were not the case, i shouldn't have to yield to emergency vehicles without being able to negotiate with the drivers why i'm not yielding to them. as it stands, refusal to yield is simply a ticketable offense.

third point: to be honest, we'd be encouraged to (lightly) kick their feet further apart even if they do comply. the reason being is that they'll voluntarily spread their feet as far as they feel comfortable doing. by spreading their feet even further, it puts the suspect out of their comfort zone and also reduces some of their balance to make it harder for them to flee. it's all about getting and maintaining the upper hand.
tasers were not used in the force at the time i was in the program, but we did have pepper spray, and that was only used against belligerent and defiant suspects such as the one in question here. if someone refused an order ("get out of the car") and clearly stated a good reason for doing so ("i have a broken leg" or "no comprende ingles, senor" or "i'm breast feeding") then we'd negotiate compliance some other way. "i'm on the phone" is a not a good reason for failing to comply.

i wish there were a real cop in this discussion :P

Right here, I would probably ask "Why?" If the cop answered "Because I'm placing you under arrest.", well, I would comply. If he moved in closed, puffed up his chest, and yelled at me, "Because I SAID so!!" I probably wouldn't. Do ya see the difference?

The irony is that after reading this response, I think you're 100% right. And to answer my own question, a cop can approach you anywhere, anytime, assuming they have an inkling that any law is being broken (jaywalking, swearing, etc.), and make a lawful question, to which you are legally obliged to comply. If you refuse or take too long, they threaten you with tasing, at which point you are implicitly under arrest. If you continue to refuse or delay, they can legally tase you.


first point: when a cop tells you to get out of the car, it doesn't automatically mean you're getting arrested. i'm just gonna be honest here, but not telling the suspect what they're getting into is just another way we'd keep the upper hand in the situation and keep ourselves from getting shot. we're not going to tell you we want you to get out so to make you take a breathalyzer test, we're not going to tell you it's because we're arresting you, and we're not going to tell you it's because we want to use you as a human shield in the event one of the occupants in your car opens fire.

YOU may comply politely when informed of what's going on, but for others telling them more than they need to know just complicates things.

1. "get out of the car for me because i want you to take a breathalyzer test."
- "man, i'm not takin no breathalyzer. i ain't drunk.
2. "get out of the car for me so i can arrest you because you're wanted in 12 states for murder, rape, assault, and reckless jaywalking."
- "bitch, i ain't goin back to jail!" *bang*
3. "get out of the car for me because i suspect one of your friends is armed and i want you to be my human shield."
- yeah, that one'll go over great with the ACLU.

so i don't know what you really want me to tell you, but these are some of the factors we'd have to consider during a traffic stop.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 7:31 PM on June 5, 2005


It would be such an easy thing to just be up front about everything. "I'm placing you under arrest, ma'am. Please step out of the car. If you refuse to comply, I am legally authorized to use force..." would be so much more effective than screaming "GET OUT OF THE CAR OR I WILL TASE YOU!!" at a panicked, but non-threatening suspect.

She wasn't panicked. She was being intentionally rude in the hopes that the officers would focus on her rudeness instead of the fact that she was driving while suspended.

When I watched the video, I saw a cop who had lost his cool in the face of rudeness and flipped his lid. I can't imagine how I would have reacted, had I been in the woman's place, but being a 6'4", 200lb man, I can guarantee it would have ended much worse for me, the cop(s), or both.

Probably for you. And what's funny is that it'd stay worse too as you were booked into jail and given a nice hefty bail, and several misdemeanor convictions plus a heavy fine for whatever damage you did to the officers.

Wow, you misread my sentence entirely. Here's what I meant:

In the sequence, were you taught to: A) taze them, or B) kick their feet apart.


Yes, I did read you wrong, I'm sorry. B, kick their feet apart... mostly because the situation you specify is a close contact situation where you're already in the process of restraining them and a taser isn't appropriate here. In the training I received (community reserve officer, unarmed, as part of an outreach program to the business leaders in the community...) We weren't trained in taser use due to the nature of the class, but we did discuss their use. Tasers are for use when you don't have a contact restrained, they are fighting, and they're in an enclosed area with the opportunity to hurt themselves or you. You warn them three to four times that they need to stop resisting you or they will be tased if they do not comply, and if they still continue to resist, and you think it's appropriate, then yes, tase them.
posted by SpecialK at 7:36 PM on June 5, 2005


I am absolutely not going to read all 340+ comments on this thread, but after briefly scanning them I am pleased that I already liked jonson, beth and Mayor Curley, because I like them all even more now.

There's probably not much more to add to the thread on any side, at any rate. Either you absolutely accept that this was an egregious assault on our inalienable rights and freedoms and an abuse of authority that must, must, must be vigorously protested and loudly decried, or you say, well, while we must always remain vigilant of such potential instances, this ain't it.
posted by yhbc at 7:47 PM on June 5, 2005


yhbc: Defending black and white issues around the  globe  internet. Thanks for your helpful comments!
posted by odinsdream at 10:09 PM on June 5, 2005


odinsdream: "What is wrong with you people?" "There is no possible way you can be serious asking that dumbass question"

Seems like you're really espousing a world of gradients in your nuanced take on this controversial issue...
posted by jonson at 10:34 PM on June 5, 2005


First, let me say that I was shocked and horrified that the police felt justified in using the tazer in this situation. I felt that--although it was hard to see if she retaliated--her rights were violated when he reached in to grab her (4th amendment right to be secure in your person). No, I don't think the police should have to negotiate with every person they stop, but they should have to use common sense and be given gold stars or commendations for every peaceful resolution.

I say this as someone who has been clubbed in the past without my arguing or resisting the officer. Sometimes just the availability of the weapon invites its use.

One factor that has not been discussed, which may have played a part in the police's lack of patience, though:
* City-data.com crime index = 626.6 (higher means more crime, US average = 330.6).

The statistics show a fairly high number of larcenies, assaults, and car thefts. IANAL or a cop, but I have to guess that those committing these crimes are more likely to also have compound speeding violations/suspensions/vehicle violations (cracked windshield), and the police may just be less likely to cut a break in these situations, especially since the local public opinion probably voices concern over the crime rate.

That said, they could have said, "Ma'am, please end your phone call now, we will give you an opportunity to call your whoever you want at the station. If you do not comply now, we will have to take action by force which may include handcuffing, use of a tazer or physical restraint."

She wasn't going anywhere, and there were two officers. Use of force should be last resort and under threat of danger to them or to herself. Not to get her out of the car.
posted by beelzbubba at 11:01 PM on June 5, 2005


Ziggy Zaga: first point: when a cop tells you to get out of the car, it doesn't automatically mean you're getting arrested. i'm just gonna be honest here, but not telling the suspect what they're getting into is just another way we'd keep the upper hand in the situation and keep ourselves from getting shot.

YOU may comply politely when informed of what's going on, but for others telling them more than they need to know just complicates things.


Sure, for me it would escalate the situation, for the lady in the video it escalated the situation... Those are only two examples (I can't speak for anybody else here), but I can't see any up-side to assuring the suspect that you're not being an irrational, ego-tripping cop who has lost his cool, but rather operating by the book and have an actual reason for asking them to exit the vehicle or whatever.

1. "get out of the car for me because i want you to take a breathalyzer test."
- "man, i'm not takin no breathalyzer. i ain't drunk.


A motorist has every right to refuse a breathalyzer, although, as I understand it, the consequence is a mandatory license suspension. (I'm told this is the best strategy if you are, in fact, drunk.) I don't see your point, unless you're advocating confusing the suspect as to what their rights are. Oh, wait, maybe you are.

2. "get out of the car for me so i can arrest you because you're wanted in 12 states for murder, rape, assault, and reckless jaywalking."
- "bitch, i ain't goin back to jail!" *bang*


For a suspected *murderer*?? No doubt, the cop's weapon should be drawn before even popping the question. As a bonus, the explanation only serves to improve the situation if the suspect is, in fact, innocent -- mistaken identities do happen...

3. "get out of the car for me because i suspect one of your friends is armed and i want you to be my human shield."
- yeah, that one'll go over great with the ACLU.


So... known unethical police behavior should be buried, as a matter of police policy?? That's bogus and you know it. (I hope?)

Furthermore, how can you hold a person to all the legal obligations of being under arrest (resisting arrest, etc.) while *intentionally* hiding the fact that they're, well, under arrest??

SpecialK: She wasn't panicked.

Guess we watched a different video. Sure looked that way to me.

She was being intentionally rude in the hopes that the officers would focus on her rudeness instead of the fact that she was driving while suspended.

Ugh. First, you're no mind-reader, and the cop isn't either. Second, if he *is* a mind-reader, and knew what she was up to, her little ploy wouldn't work unless he chose to, you know, focus on the rudeness.

Probably for you. And what's funny is that it'd stay worse too as you were booked into jail and given a nice hefty bail, and several misdemeanor convictions plus a heavy fine for whatever damage you did to the officers.

Exactly -- there's no up-side for anybody. (Oops, you didn't mean to help prove my point, did you?)
posted by LordSludge at 11:09 PM on June 5, 2005


hey, after all Rodney King was speeding, too.
and it looked like Amadou Diallo was, like, keeping a big gun in his wallet, or something.

you know, most people who have driven cars in different countries find the experience of being pulled over by American cops to be very, very scary. I find it really scary, too, and I'm white, clean-shaven, with perfect documents, and drive nice clean rental cars.

just sayin'

*snickers, bookmarks thread for future reference, in case somebody tries to resuscitate the silly-shameful "MeFi = bunch of liberals" meme*
posted by matteo at 11:41 PM on June 5, 2005


>>Probably for you. And what's funny is that it'd stay
>>worse too as you were booked into jail and given a nice
>>hefty bail, and several misdemeanor convictions plus a
>>heavy fine for whatever damage you did to the officers.

>Exactly -- there's no up-side for anybody. (Oops, you
>didn't mean to help prove my point, did you?)


We proved each other's point, methinks. You fight, your life's a living hell for a while, and the ramifications continue to echo every time you try to get a job or borrow money or identify yourself to authorities for the rest of your life, and you have the opportunity to lose a whole bunch of legal rights. That's kind of the way the system is set up.
So there's a metric assload of negatives for you, and the cop might get the shit beat out of him, which is negative ... but if he's a good cop, and he's not hurt too badly, he'll get some good attention out of it which might equal a promotion, or if he is hurt badly he'll get retired on disability, which isn't that bad of a deal. There is an upside for society, because your ass is in jail spending quality time with your new best friend, Bubba.

>>SpecialK: She wasn't panicked.

>Guess we watched a different video. Sure looked that way to me.

>>She was being intentionally rude in the hopes that the
>>officers would focus on her rudeness instead of the fact
>>that she was driving while suspended.

>Ugh. First, you're no mind-reader, and the cop isn't either.
>Second, if he *is* a mind-reader, and knew what she was
>up to, her little ploy wouldn't work unless he chose to, you
>know, focus on the rudeness.

Yeah, well, you won't beleive what some people try when confronted. I mean, would you shoot at a cop that had a gun? No? Lots of people do every year.

I don't think she was panicked more than anyone who's driving suspended would be when they're pulled over by police based on the way she talked, the fact that she continued to smoke a cigarette and talk on the phone, etc. While I'm not a mind reader, I'm a conscious student of human behaviour, and it seemed to me that she was seeking some way out ... the closest analogy I can make is the look a dog would give you when you try to get him into the kennel or car to go to the vet. That's not panicked, that's looking for an escape route. Very big difference.
posted by SpecialK at 11:43 PM on June 5, 2005


odinsdream : "Also, as far as I know, 'general non-compliance' is not against the law."

I think (though I'm not sure) that it's called "obstruction of justice", which is against the law.

matteo : "*snickers, bookmarks thread for future reference, in case somebody tries to resuscitate the silly-shameful 'MeFi = bunch of liberals' meme*"

This little meme keeps coming up, but...so far, I've only read one person in this thread indicating that they aren't a liberal, while several people supporting the cops have indicated they're liberals.

So, yeah, bookmark it in case "MeFi = bunch of liberals" comes up, and people can come see a thread filled with a bunch of liberals disagreeing about something. You may as well just link to a jonmc music thread or a Star Wars thread if you want to see a bunch of liberals disagree with eachother. What's your point?
posted by Bugbread at 12:13 AM on June 6, 2005


We proved each other's point, methinks. You fight, your life's a living hell for a while, and the ramifications continue to echo every time you try to get a job or borrow money or identify yourself to authorities for the rest of your life, and you have the opportunity to lose a whole bunch of legal rights. That's kind of the way the system is set up.
So there's a metric assload of negatives for you, and the cop might get the shit beat out of him, which is negative ... but if he's a good cop, and he's not hurt too badly, he'll get some good attention out of it which might equal a promotion, or if he is hurt badly he'll get retired on disability, which isn't that bad of a deal. There is an upside for society, because your ass is in jail spending quality time with your new best friend, Bubba.


So a routine traffic stop that ends in violence, police injury, suspect injury, and jailtime is a Good Thing -- indeed, it's *better* than one that ends without incident.

Gotcha. I think we're done here.

/sigh
posted by LordSludge at 12:30 AM on June 6, 2005


Er, no, LordSludge, I think you're reading that exchange wrong. You said, basically, "I'm a big guy, so if I disobeyed legal orders at a traffic stop, people would get hurt." SpecialK's answer was: "If you chose to break the law, you'd end up with injury and jailtime, which is a good thing, because you'd be breaking the law and darwining yourself" with the corollary "If you chose not to break the law, you'd end up without injury and jailtime, which is a good thing, because you'd be obeying the law and behaving rationally".

I'm not saying I agree (I've invested enough time and energy that now I'm slipping back into my calmer "resolve miscommunication mode", as opposed to "put forth own views mode"), but SpecialK is saying that jailtime is a good thing for disobeying the law, and no jailtime is a good thing for obeying the law.
posted by Bugbread at 12:39 AM on June 6, 2005


What's your point?

that if you really think there's nothing wrong with this cop's behavior you're about as liberal as Pat Buchanan -- outside of the US, any reasonably progressive person would just laugh on your face if you showed them this video and said "I am a liberal and I think it's cool to give 2 electroshocks to a panicked unarmed woman who hasn't tried to attack a cop".

did I make myself clearer now? or you want it in Japanese?
posted by matteo at 1:24 AM on June 6, 2005


matteo : "that if you really think there's nothing wrong with this cop's behavior you're about as liberal as Pat Buchanan"

Ah, right. "I'm liberal. You disagree with me on something. Therefore you are not liberal."

matteo : "outside of the US, any reasonably progressive person would just laugh on your face if you showed them this video and said 'I am a liberal and I think it's cool to give 2 electroshocks to a panicked unarmed woman who hasn't tried to attack a cop'. "

I doubt they'd laugh. Probably be shocked. And then if you went on to describe your other beliefs, they might come to the conclusion that you're a liberal, but that you happen to have an atypical reaction for a liberal to a particular set of circumstances.

Let's see:
Drugs should be legalized
Prostitution should be legalized
Religion should have no place in schools
Gender inequalities (payment, promotion, etc.) should be eliminated
The government should be far less intrusive into our daily lives
Wiretapping laws should be severely curbed
Free speech should be returned, and fuck this "free speech zone" thing
Homosexuals should be free to marry whomever they want, whenever they want, and to adopt kids
Abortion should be legalized
We should never have gone into Iraq
Bush should be impeached for repeated prevarication
We should have national tax-supported health care
More money should be spent on schools, less on the military
Political power should be divested from the corporations and returned to the people
The government should aggressively protect the environment
This cop wasn't wrong for tazering her.

Yeah, that's me, little Pat Buchanan.
posted by Bugbread at 1:54 AM on June 6, 2005


matteo : "did I make myself clearer now? or you want it in Japanese?"

Actually, yeah, that would be pretty cool :)
posted by Bugbread at 1:54 AM on June 6, 2005


"I'm liberal. You disagree with me on something. Therefore you are not liberal."

no, it's more, "you're in favor of police brutality, hence you're a very odd kind of liberal"

that would be pretty cool :)

?????
posted by matteo at 1:59 AM on June 6, 2005


damn, it showed up in preview!
posted by matteo at 2:00 AM on June 6, 2005


matteo : "damn, it showed up in preview!"

Yeah, non-ASCII stuff shows up in preview, but not in final version.

matteo : "no, it's more, 'you're in favor of police brutality, hence you're a very odd kind of liberal'"

Okay, now we're getting a bit closer to the reality of the situation. I'd still disagree that I'm in favor of police brutality, but that's a matter of opinion. Perhaps an example would help you see what I'm refering to:

"A guy is pointing a gun at your daughter's head. He is counting down from 10. At zero, he will shoot your daughter. You have a gun in front of you, loaded."

If you shoot the guy, does that mean you are in favor of murder? You would probably argue "no". However, someone else could argue that you are, with the implication that you're fine with shooting nuns and the elderly and pregnant mothers.

In the same way, saying "I'm in favor of police brutality" carries the implication that I'm in favor of police randomly beating folks up, that I support what happened to Rodney King, etc. So I definitely reject the implications it carries, and I reject that I'm in favor of police "brutality". If a cop hits you for no reason, I'm opposed. If a cop hits you for not dancing for him, I'm opposed. If a cop hits you for not saying "sir", I'm opposed. If a cop hits you for calling him a jerk, I'm opposed. So I can't really agree that I'm in favor of police brutality.

I just think that there are certain cases where police are entitled to use force without being considered "brutality", and this is one of them.

So from my side of the discussion, we're still agreeing: you're opposed to police brutality, and I'm opposed to police brutality. You just put this in the "brutality" category, while I don't.

And as far as being liberal, as far as I know, it isn't a checklist-based term ("If you satisfy all of conditions 1 through 10, you are a liberal. If you fail to satisfy even one condition, you are not a liberal"). I think it's an expression of your overall beliefs. A person with really extreme right beliefs is probably called a conservative, even if they oppose the teaching of Intelligent Design in school. In the same vein, a person with really extreme leftist beliefs is probably called a liberal, even if they happen to believe in some non-traditionally-liberal idea.

Otherwise, the terms "conservative" and "liberal" are kinda meaningless. I'm not sure if I've ever met a liberal or a conservative using the initial definition. In fact, I'm not sure if any exist. And if we use that terminology, I guess we'll just switch from saying MeFi is "predominantly liberal" to saying it's "predominantly leftist".
posted by Bugbread at 2:17 AM on June 6, 2005


And, actually, I'm talking myself into a corner that doesn't quite represent what I really think. I should be a bit more clear:

I don't think the first tazering was brutality. I do think the second one was. The discussion has focused primarily on whether he should have tazed her for not getting out of her car, so I let myself be swept away and forget to address the second tazering. So, yes, I'm liberal, and I don't have a problem with the first tazering, and, yes, I'm liberal and do have a problem with the second tazering.
posted by Bugbread at 2:22 AM on June 6, 2005


Ah, two more things (sorry about the consecutive posting)

First, if the phrase "MeFi = bunch of liberals" means "exclusively liberals", then, yeah, we have a few posters who definitely prove that untrue, but I gather that's not what you mean. If it means "largely liberals", then one thread having some non-liberals doesn't really make it untrue. You wouldn't point, for example, at a thread with Konolia and her crew (sorry, the only people I can remember by name as being definitely one or the other are Konolia and Nofundy. I'm bad with names) as disproving it. Instead, you have to look at the totality of Mefi. So finding a thread with non-liberals is about as effective a counter to "Mefi = bunch of liberals" as finding a rainy day in the desert as a counter to "the desert gets little rain".

Second, if "bunch of liberals" is interpreted as "bunch of party-line liberals", then, yeah, it's untrue, but I sincerely hope the people (including myself) who say that us Mefites are generally a bunch of liberals are not saying that it's a bunch of party-line liberals, because that should be self-evidently false.

(and, final digression: you mention that folks in other countries would laugh if shown this thread and told that Mefi's were liberals. I was under the impression that "liberal" has different meanings outside the US/Canada. I know that, for one, in The Economist, "liberal" is used as relatively synonymous with "free trade" or "market economy". Am I off-base in thinking the definition varies?)
posted by Bugbread at 2:41 AM on June 6, 2005


What a long and fascinating thread. Some good arguments on both sides!

My initial perception was of a frightened woman, phoning so someone would know she was having an encounter with the police. Since someone pointed out she was in a beauty pageant shortly afterwards, I can add she was a pretty woman, which tends to mean slim these days. She was also black, and we all know driving-while-black is dangerous in its own right, as regards police.

So this "yakking on the phone" is all bullshit. She wasn't "yakking". I would probably have been doing the same thing myself, and I'm white. I don't trust the police, nor should I. However, I would also have gotten out, although with my phone still on and maybe at my ear.

I am bothered a great deal by the actual tazing. It seemed to me unjustified. However, someone pointed out a very good rationale as to why it was correct. I appreciate the rationale.

So she screamed. All y'all who go on about how funny or disgusting her screams were, should go soak your heads. A scream means many things, amongst them its a warning to others. It can mean both "help me!" as well as "look out!". It also says "witness this, everyone!".

Yea, I don't think the tazing was needed. I accept that it was technically by-the-book. I also agree, the cop was totally full of attitude and likely overly anxious to zap someone.

I've heard stories all my life from people abused by the police. Oddly, it never happens to me. But then, I'm always respectful and compliant, usually aware of what I've done wrong. But I know they get nasty sometimes, and that's wrong. They work for us, not we for them.

Police are government. As such, they deserve the utmost scrutiny and the strictest of standards. Indeed, guilty until proven innocent, should there be any question. Unfair? Not at all. They weald authority, and that caries a price. Too bad.

Tazers are clearly being abused by police. This is a problem, and even more so given the way government has been behaving lately. Slippery slope argument? Maybe, but damn, a guy could break a leg on a slippery slope!
posted by Goofyy at 2:47 AM on June 6, 2005


Goofyy writes, "I've heard stories all my life from people abused by the police. Oddly, it never happens to me. But then, I'm always respectful and compliant...."


...and white?

And you look like you have enough money to hire a lawyer?
posted by orthogonality at 3:13 AM on June 6, 2005


Wow, this is some thread.

Yes, most suspensions are for serious offenses, but I have some unfortunate personal knowledge of suspension caused by simply not proving that I'd had a tail light fixed in a timely way after getting a ticket for it. My state is very tough when it comes to suspensions and links car-related matters directly to your license. You can and will have your license suspended for a multitude of car and registration matters that have nothing to do with your actual driving record.

As far as the cops: in my county, we had cops stopping women and demanding oral sex in exchange for waiving tickets.

We also have many, many cops clearly and obviously either using steroids or spending excessive amounts of time pumping iron because they are absolutely gigantic arms. I find them very scary and not to be messed with.

This woman was a jerk, no question. But to be tazered? That cop could and should have done better. I think the tazer was too easy for him to use. I'd love to see what the guidelines are. I don't believe they were ever meant to be used to force compliance in this kind of situation. I think what the tazer is clearly allowing cops to do is become one-man armies, just another part of the militarization of our police departments around the country.
posted by etaoin at 4:55 AM on June 6, 2005


bugbread: Er, no, LordSludge, I think you're reading that exchange wrong. You said, basically, "I'm a big guy, so if I disobeyed legal orders at a traffic stop, people would get hurt." SpecialK's answer was: "If you chose to break the law, you'd end up with injury and jailtime, which is a good thing, because you'd be breaking the law and darwining yourself" with the corollary "If you chose not to break the law, you'd end up without injury and jailtime, which is a good thing, because you'd be obeying the law and behaving rationally".

I'm not saying I agree (I've invested enough time and energy that now I'm slipping back into my calmer "resolve miscommunication mode", as opposed to "put forth own views mode"), but SpecialK is saying that jailtime is a good thing for disobeying the law, and no jailtime is a good thing for obeying the law.


No, my beef was with the step just prior to my (non)compliance, which was the cop's approach in his request. Back up a few posts to my hypothetical situation, which was that I was stopped by a cop and either told to exit the vehicle either a) calmly and with a brief explanation why ("I need to pat you down for weapons", "I want to get away from traffic", etc.) or b) belligerently and without explanation ("Cuz I said so, boy!!", "Respect mah authoritah!", etc.). My position being that a) would have the desired effect on me and most people, whereas b) would be very possibly make me think the cop had flipped out and I needed to defend myself -- there *are* bad cops, police impersonators, etc., out there, and even a uniformed officer must behave rationally.

a) would be a guaranteed clean stop. Good job, maybe I'm pissed that I got a ticket, but nobody got hurt and nobody went to jail. If b) went downhill, yes somebody would probably get hurt, including myself, we would all get to visit the emergency room, then of course I'd marry Bubba.

SpecialK was implying that the cop *should* act like a crazy man in order to get a rise out of me, cause general injuries, and get me into the prison system. This is all a Good Thing, in his opinion.

...to which I say, WTF???

This was all in support of my position that any person being placed under arrest should be informed that they are, in fact, under arrest. This legaleze retroactive implicit-arrest crap is bullshit and leads to trouble.
posted by LordSludge at 5:43 AM on June 6, 2005


Ok, I got what you're saying. Looks like I was the one misunderstanding.

Personally, I'd put this cop's actions (C) halfway between your choices A and B. No explanation, but not a whole lot of craziness (I'm talking about the part coming up to the tazering, not the tazering itself or the followthrough). If I hear a cop say "Get out of the car", it isn't A (no explanation of why), but it isn't B (it's not an unusual request). So from what I can tell, A is good, C is normal, B is bad. Sure, A is better than C, which is better than B. But I'd put C within the bounds of "perfectly acceptable". Whenever I've been in a car stopped by the police, they've always asked for driver's license and registration; they've never explained why we were pulled over until the license had been run through; I never thought the cop was crazy or dangerous.

Regardless, I agree with you: given the choice A or B, A is infinitely preferable, and if somebody gets injured due to a B scenario, I'd feel mighty bad for them and mighty badly against the cops.
posted by Bugbread at 5:52 AM on June 6, 2005


yhbc: Defending black and white issues around the globe internet. Thanks for your helpful comments!

odinsdream: Congratulations bonehead, you managed to completely miss my point, which was that this is not a black and white issue, and that shouting "police brutality!" every time a cop takes any action at all is just as ignorant and ultimately self-defeating as always saying "obviously, the police only arrest guilty people; he/she got what they deserved" in every instance. Go back and read my comment again. Idiot.
posted by yhbc at 6:02 AM on June 6, 2005


Yhbc's right (though he/she left out a third option): You either have to support the cops no matter what they do, or not support them no matter what, but be vigilant in case of problems, or oppose them no matter what. That covers the major bases (excluding things like "not thinking about cops" or "not having opinions" or "supporting cops whose last names start with B, but opposing those whose start with C"), and is pretty much a "black, grey, and white" view (with the grey being the biggest)
posted by Bugbread at 6:39 AM on June 6, 2005


orthogonality: I'm white, but in my encounters with police, seldom looked like I could afford a lawyer. Perhaps my speech might have sounded like it, but maybe not. My speech is more flexible than my appearance. I was a wayward youth and lived homeless on the streets of various cities in the mid 70's. I hitched all over the states. Many encounters with cops, never ever abused. Most of the cops I've dealt with seemed like nice enough guys (contrary to my general opinion of cops!). Even when in custody, I've found them open and talkative with me (people do that with me).

Funny enough, the one time I had a bad encounter with a cop I was the complainant. I needed a police report for an incident where I worked at an all-night gas station. Cop only drove through, so I called back. The SOB came back and when I opened the door, he slammed it against the wall, stormed in, and proceeded to verbally abuse me for DARING to call back! And this was not a city cop, this was a state trooper in Michigan (happened I was across the street from the police post).

Of course, I do always use jedi mind tricks when dealing with the police. I am, after all, entirely unremarkable and of no threat to anyone or anything, least of all them. Perhaps it helps that, while I have a low opinion of cops, I do think most would LIKE to be the common heroes they once were perceived in days of yore.
posted by Goofyy at 7:32 AM on June 6, 2005


odinsdream: "What is wrong with you people?" "There is no possible way you can be serious asking that dumbass question"

Seems like you're really espousing a world of gradients in your nuanced take on this controversial issue...


I'm amazed that 23skidoo lacks any ability to imagine an outcome different than that in the video, as evidenced by his question, "What should he have done to get her out of the car?" As if the taser was the only option. My comment illustrates that I do not believe it was a black and white issue.
posted by odinsdream at 8:14 AM on June 6, 2005


Sinner : "this is the thread I'm going to point to the next time someone tries to argue that MeFi is a purely lefty stronghold."

bugbread: I dunno, you'd be surprised. I'm supporting the cop here (or, to be more clear: I'm supporting the first tazering as being assholish but within acceptable parameters, and the second tazering as being far more assholish, and deserving investigation), but I'm pretty durn leftist. There may be more folks here like me.

bugbread, nobody who supports cops using physical force on people as a routine component of a traffic stop is a real leftist. I wish folks like you would stop confusing everybody by falsely claiming that label. Maybe you're to the left of Rush Limbaugh and Gordon Liddy, but then Mussolini was to the left of those people; you are a "moderate" centrist with "liberal" aspirations.

The only time routinized brutality by armed government employees is acceptable during a traffic stop is in wartime in an actual theater of war; if you defend such actions by stating that the cops are at war with the rest of us here in the "Homeland" then you're not even moderate. In contrast, I agree that the cops are at war with the rest of us -- and that it's a bad thing.

It's time people realize that "leftism" and/or "progressivism" necessarily involves a strong commitment to liberty (i.e. "libertarianism"), and this goes for "liberals" who want to ban "hate speech" as much as for you. Without liberty there is tyranny, whatever one's intentions. For more on this Emma Goldman's writings about the Bolsheviks after her experiences in Russia.

[By the way, note that I "accused" bugbread of having liberal aspirations -- as opposed to liberal pretentions as with the Clintons.]
posted by davy at 8:26 AM on June 6, 2005


davy : "bugbread, nobody who supports cops using physical force on people as a routine component of a traffic stop is a real leftist."

Well, then, what am I? Probably 90% of my ideas fall on the far left of center. Whenever I do one of those surveys, it puts me very very squarely as liberal/libertarian. So if I'm not a "true" leftist, nor a "true" liberal, then what am I? Most of my beliefs are far left of the center. The "centrists" would throw me out of their camp for having so many non-centrist beliefs. Don't even get me started on what the "conservatives" or "rightists" would think of me. So I'm not a centrist, nor a liberal, nor a leftist, nor a rightist, nor a conservative. What's a good new term for someone who is "predominantly leftist, with one or two non-leftist ideas"?

davy : "if you defend such actions by stating that the cops are at war with the rest of us here in the 'Homeland' then you're not even moderate."

Ah, well good thing that I don't.
posted by Bugbread at 8:37 AM on June 6, 2005


The big question to me in all of this (and I identify myself as a progressive, but what the hell does it matter, right?), is one of authority. If it's "we the people", then to what extent should "we" let the state have special priveledges, i.e.: to hurt us if we don't do what we're told? Who has the authority to hurt us, why, and for what purposes? Where is the line?
In my city, we routinely have incidents where the police kill a suspect (innocent until proven guilty before a court of law, right?) because he resists. One such suspect was running. Away. With his back to the policeman. As in, the suspect was shot in the back. Because he didn't stop when he was told to. Oh, and did I mention that the cop was plainclothes, and had pulled his gun during a drug deal?
Anyway, we have to ask the question of where the right to utilize violence comes from, and who holds that right. Now more than ever . . .
posted by pt68 at 9:06 AM on June 6, 2005


That a cop has to use a tazer to get someone out of a car indicates some pretty shitty training.

It's a weapon of last resort, to be used to subdue someone who is a threat. That's all.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 9:14 AM on June 6, 2005


I would think a gun was a weapon of last resort. In fact, according to the voice over, the taser (in official police training, as stated in the video voiceover) comes before a hand to hand scuffle, a wack with a nightstick, and finally, a bullet.
posted by jonson at 9:18 AM on June 6, 2005


pt68 : "Anyway, we have to ask the question of where the right to utilize violence comes from, and who holds that right."

And, as your example makes clear, when that right comes into play, and to what degree. I think police, for example, should have the right, given by the people, to shoot certain people in certain situations, even if they are not directly being threatened (for example, a person who is running at a baby (not the cop) with a chainsaw). So that satisfies your two questions, "where", and "who". I think it's absolutely fucked up and just plain murder, however, for a cop to do what you provide in your example (shooting an unarmed suspect in the back). I think most of us can agree on who gives cops the right to use arms, and who has the right to use arms. The disagreement is on when and how much.
posted by Bugbread at 9:22 AM on June 6, 2005


the question as i see is

was the woman posing a threat to the officer?

if so , how?

if she did not pose a threat, was she being punished for not complying?

if she was being punished , is that ok?

any answers to these questions are subjective, but i should add that in this country we say we believe that the burden of proof is on the state.
posted by nola at 9:31 AM on June 6, 2005


And what exactly would be the problem with this, besides that you obviously find it a bit humorous?
[!]

Since standing near traffic has an injury potential, “waiting it out” may not be an option here.

was the woman posing a threat to the officer?
if so , how?

As long as the key is in the ignition, then yes.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:39 AM on June 6, 2005


Nola, those are good questions, but I think we'll have disagreement right from the start.

That is, there is "posing a threat" (pointing a gun at an officer), "not posing a threat" (being stark naked and handcuffed on ecstacy inside a padded room), and "potentially posing a threat" (being inside a car with tinted windows which are rolled up, or reaching into your breast pocket when asked to step out of the car). So, no, she wasn't posing any clear threat, but, judging from the posts in this thread, there is going to be a heck of a lot of disagreement about how much of a threat a potential threat counts as, and how much of a potential threat she was presenting.

On preview - Like I said...
posted by Bugbread at 9:45 AM on June 6, 2005


I'm amazed that 23skidoo lacks any ability to imagine an outcome different than that in the video, as evidenced by his question, "What should he have done to get her out of the car?" As if the taser was the only option.

I'm amazed that you're repeating this, after I already explained what that sentence means. This is now the second time that I will re-explained this. It does NOT mean "What else could the officer have done? Clearly that was his only option! He had to taze her."

My question means "In your opinion, explain what he should have done to get her out of the car besides tazing." Not COULD have done, SHOULD have done. I understand that there were other ways to get her out of the car. I was hoping that people would actually talk about them.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:48 AM on June 6, 2005


nola: "the question as i see is
was the woman posing a threat to the officer?
if so , how?
if she did not pose a threat, was she being punished for not complying?
if she was being punished , is that ok?"

Exactly . . . the idea of violence not as a tool for protection but as a means of control . . . the very idea of punishment denotes judgement, and should that be taking place in the streets? . . . There's a whiff of absolute authority in these actions . . .
posted by pt68 at 9:51 AM on June 6, 2005


pt68 : "the idea of violence not as a tool for protection but as a means of control"

True, but without physical force, how can you provide protection? That is, how can you bring in a suspect who doesn't want to be arrested, if they don't present a threat to the police? People count a lot of things as violence: pulling someone out of a car, for example, is seen as a violent act by many. Without the ability to use any physical force, police can only really arrest people who give themselves up, or people who directly threaten the police. And taken to the other extreme, police become wandering execution squads. The issue isn't whether violence is or is not used as a means of control: if approached binarily, you either end up with death squads or a lawless state. The issue is how much violence, applied in what way.
posted by Bugbread at 10:26 AM on June 6, 2005


like i said , the answers to those questions are going to be subjective. however for the police officer, his known rules of engagement should give him some idea what his purview is.

he has drawn a weapon on a civilian with the intent of forcing a resolution. is the burden of proof on him or the civilian ? who should it be on? should the police view civilians as possible hostiles? probably so. should that give them the right to skirt my civil rights?

i believe by tasering this woman , the officer is being her judge , jury, and executioner, to borrow the fraise. i see it as punishment for not complying. if thats what happened here , it is out side his mandated purview, as given to him by that woman , as a member of society.

thats just an opinion , but the circumstantial evidence for my conclusion is no less applicable than your assumption that her none compliance is a sign of a threat. all that i have to go on is the very thing you have, what you see in the tape.
posted by nola at 10:34 AM on June 6, 2005


. . . And making this particular case more complicated . . . a black woman, a white police officer, the aura of racism and sexual power politics that surrounds such a scene . . . . I find it interesting/disturbing that he zaps her while she is trying to let someone know where she is and what's going on . . . isn't her concern justifiable? And shouldn't the cop have had some way to acknowledge that and respect that?
I thought, overall, he handled himself very calmly, very professionally . . . The police have to be that detached to deal with the anxiety of their work. That's great, when it comes to handling the slurs and accusations (which he shrugs off . . . or seems to). But do we want them so detached when it comes to administering pain?
Could he have given her a moment more to get off the phone? Wouldn't we prefer that they err to the side of caution in applying violent force?
How much violence? As little as possible. (Consider British bobbies and their truncheons.)
Applied in what way? Non-lethally, of course. The right to take life needs to be more contained. My belief, of course.
And with some common sense. A traffic violation? How about disabling the car, not the driver? There are plenty of technologies for such.
Does the suspect attempt to flee? Dye-markers, scent-markers, electronic tags. Lots of options.
posted by pt68 at 11:08 AM on June 6, 2005


pt68 and nola, I grant you the award of "Champions of Late Thread Posters" (not like I'm in any position to grant awards, but, you know, tiny award ceremony) for posting really level-headed comments.
posted by Bugbread at 12:23 PM on June 6, 2005


i believe by tasering this woman , the officer is being her judge , jury, and executioner, to borrow the fraise.

"to borrow the strawberry" -- love it!


Irony: that as she's telling someone that she's afraid she's going to be subjected to police brutality... she is, in fact, subjected to police brutality. What a classy act all around.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:23 PM on June 6, 2005


The thing that gets me, is that the stormtroopers in "TROOPS" - a comedy parady of "COPS", were depicted as needlessly brutal as a joke, yet even these imperial stormtroopers - the fictional ultimate jackbooted repressors - were shown spending more time diffusing the situation, calming down the angry and hysterical so they would comply willingly rather than through force, than the cop in this video.

The stormtroopers, intended to be portrayed as so excessively brutal it would be funny, had far more patience, a better manner, and displayed more skill in diffusing the situation (instead of ratching it up), than the cop in the video.

As I said earlier, I have incredibly high respect for the cops who do their job - diffusing stressful, even violent situations with cool skill and control. This guy on the other hand was like watching a retarded bull in a china store. Not worthy of the badge.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:53 PM on June 6, 2005


-harlequin- : "the storm troopers in 'TROOPS' - a comedy parody of 'COPS', were depicted as needlessly brutal as a joke, yet even these imperial storm troopers - the fictional ultimate jackbooted repressors - were shown spending more time diffusing the situation, calming down the angry and hysterical so they would comply willingly rather than through force, than the cop in this video."

Not to be excessively picky, but the storm troopers in Star Wars were depicted as needlessly brutal, and the storm troopers in TROOPS were depicted as not being exceptionally brutal. Like the part in Star Wars where it's implied they brutally kill Uncle Owen and Aunt Veroo (sp?), while in TROOPS it turns out that Aunt Veroo actually blows up Uncle Owen herself
posted by Bugbread at 1:15 PM on June 6, 2005


Quinlan: "Our friend Vargas has some very special ideas about police procedure. He seems to think it don't matter whether killers hang or not, so long as we obey the fine print."

Vargas: "Captain, I don't think a policeman should work like a dog catcher in putting criminals behind bars. No! In any free country, a policeman is supposed to enforce the law, and the law protects the guilty as well as the innocent."

Quinlan: "Our job is tough enough."

Vargas: "It's supposed to be. It has to be tough. A policeman's job is only easy in a police state. That's the whole point, Captain - who's the boss, the cop or the law?"

posted by gigawhat? at 1:42 PM on June 6, 2005


bugbread:
The joke about shooting the jawa (accused of theft) in the back was, IMO, intended to convey humourous brutality. The jawa was on foot, the stormtroopers had vehicles, but they just couldn't be bothered using them. As far as they were concerned, it wasn't worth their time.

(If this thread can be subverted into a discussion of star wars parodies, that will make my day :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 1:52 PM on June 6, 2005


2 things:

a. seems the officer could have used a "resolve miscommunication mode", as opposed to "put forth own views mode".
To answer what should he have done?
Talk to her. It wouldn't have been that hard.
"I'm really sorry but you are going to have to step out of the car. I'm not going to hurt you. I am just trying to do my job. Who are you talking to? You're brother/father/boyfriend? Can I talk to them? I just want to tell them that no one is going to harm you." blah blah blah. schmooze her just like he would want her to schmooze him. treat her with the same respect he demands from her. De-escalate the situation, then arrest her ass.

b. the issue of 'power' and 'power over' does seem germaine to this situation. interesting that it has taken this long to come up. In my viewing she provokes the tazering by her disregard for his authority. Upthread someone quotes the officer's comment about "not playing with me" after she is laying on the ground, handcuffed, after the second tazering must be a word. I don't believe the officer went from fear for his life to zap her a second time (for why?) to "don't play with me". I believe it was "don't f*ck with me." "don't f*ck with me." "don't f*ck with me." points for consistancy.

c. i saw "space balls" but it was a long time ago.
posted by pointilist at 2:43 PM on June 6, 2005


LordSludge

Sure, for me it would escalate the situation (typo?), for the lady in the video it escalated the situation... Those are only two examples (I can't speak for anybody else here), but I can't see any up-side to assuring the suspect that you're not being an irrational, ego-tripping cop who has lost his cool, but rather operating by the book and have an actual reason for asking them to exit the vehicle or whatever.

A motorist has every right to refuse a breathalyzer, although, as I understand it, the consequence is a mandatory license suspension. (I'm told this is the best strategy if you are, in fact, drunk.) I don't see your point, unless you're advocating confusing the suspect as to what their rights are. Oh, wait, maybe you are.

For a suspected *murderer*?? No doubt, the cop's weapon should be drawn before even popping the question. As a bonus, the explanation only serves to improve the situation if the suspect is, in fact, innocent -- mistaken identities do happen...

So... known unethical police behavior should be buried, as a matter of police policy?? That's bogus and you know it. (I hope?)

Furthermore, how can you hold a person to all the legal obligations of being under arrest (resisting arrest, etc.) while *intentionally* hiding the fact that they're, well, under arrest??


look, i don't mean to come across as hostile; you may not see an upside to keeping the suspect in the dark, but i presume you're not a cop, and i'm assuming you haven't even done so much as a simulation for dealing with situations like these. i feel i've provided enough reasoning as far as my experience dictates for why we'd leave suspects in the dark when it comes to procedure; if you don't accept it, the only way i'm gonna be able to convince you is with a taser ;P

re: breathalyzers:: you're exactly correct about the driver being able to refuse to take a breathalyzer test. i wasn't exactly clear with the example; you wouldn't necessarily say "i want you to take a breathalyzer test." if you think there's a possibility the driver might be drunk but aren't sure, a simple request for the driver to get out of the car and walk a few steps toward you will usually dispel any doubt. that's when you might bring up taking the test.

re: murder:: again, you're exactly correct. i threw the violent charges in there just for the dramatic aspect of it; if you're being arrested for murder, you WILL be informed of what's going on before you step out of the car, and the arrest will be performed by more than two cops ;)
an outstanding warrant (failing to pay child support, etc), or any mandatory arrest offenses (here in GA, if you're caught doing 20+ over the speed limit, you get arrested on the spot) are much better examples for #2.

re: unethical behavior:: i honestly don't know if that's a widespread practice, but in the department i worked with that was just one of the situations in which i was taught it might be wise to remove a subject from the car. whether or not you think it's "bogus," it's definitely something we were encouraged to do, and it's definitely within legal limits to ask a suspect to get out of the car--but obviously not for that express purpose.

and for your last question about being accountable for legal obligations without being informed, i'm just gonna go ahead and say "i don't know." i'm not a cop, all the training i've had still leaves me lesser than a rookie, and i have little experience with actual police work outside of traffic stops. most of the scenarios we enacted or observed on the road involved either a totally compliant suspect or someone who had to be captured by force, thus rendering such obligations to "play nicely" irrelevant. there are some situations where we would say "i'd like to search your car, but you have the right to refuse" or "i'd like for you to take a breathalyzer test, and you have the right to refuse, but if you refuse then i'm gonna have to arrest you." and really, if someone asks repeatedly why we want them to get out of the car, we'd tell them--but i gathered the point of not telling them to begin with is to try to minimize the chances of them becoming argumentative and confrontational from the get-go.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 3:24 PM on June 6, 2005


-harlequin- : "The joke about shooting the jawa (accused of theft) in the back was, IMO, intended to convey humourous brutality."

You're right. Sorry, it's been a while since I saw it, and the only part that really stuck with me was the Aunt Veroo / Uncle Owen bit.
posted by Bugbread at 4:34 PM on June 6, 2005


Ziggy Zaga writes "most of the scenarios we enacted or observed on the road involved either a totally compliant suspect or someone who had to be captured by force, thus rendering such obligations to 'play nicely' irrelevant."


Training needs to be changed then. It is clearly of limited use in the real world.

Presently the training does not seem to have much in the way of conflict resolution skills.

Approve of this tazering, Yoda wouldn't.
posted by asok at 5:45 PM on June 6, 2005


Oh, and this thread was framed really badly.
Gestapo traffic stop? It's like you wanted a train wreck.
posted by asok at 5:47 PM on June 6, 2005


Just as a quick ass-kissing aside . . . thank you, Mefites, for such strong, level-headed discussion . . . I mostly make a point of not posting ANYWHERE, because of how quickly things devolve into schoolyard inanity. But this was an important topic for me, and I really do appreciate the level of discourse (and the wonderful, relevant tangents . . . "Troops" indeed!)
peace
posted by pt68 at 6:09 PM on June 6, 2005


These cops need to take a lesson from the police of other countries. This should have been handled far better. Both parties were totally in the wrong here, but to see that kind of aggressive needless escalation to weapons when no bodily threat ws presented (and it WAS utterly needless - well trained cops can and do diffuse those situations instead of ratcheting them up, travel outside of the USA to see firsthand), is just disgusting. But that's the state of the US police force today.

...

In Canada, Britain, Germany, Japan, and a dozen other countries that are leagues more civilized than the USA, the cops would have used non-violent means as a first resort.


When I lived in Germany, I remember well the quickness of the Polizei to reach for their sticks if you didn't produce papers fast enough upon demand. That was back in '86 or so. We were certainly a threat - our vomiting skills were prodigious. I guess you have to take your civilization where you can find it.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:37 PM on June 6, 2005


Just as a quick ass-kissing aside . . . thank you, Mefites, for such strong, level-headed discussion . . . I mostly make a point of not posting ANYWHERE, because of how quickly things devolve into schoolyard inanity. But this was an important topic for me, and I really do appreciate the level of discourse (and the relevant tangents . . . "Troops" indeed!)
peace
posted by pt68 at 6:53 PM on June 6, 2005


asok

Training needs to be changed then. It is clearly of limited use in the real world.

Presently the training does not seem to have much in the way of conflict resolution skills.

Approve of this tazering, Yoda wouldn't.


just to resolve any misunderstandings, because i get the impression you jumped into this thread at post 300-something and are thus taking me out of context, i was referring to police explorer training, not bona fide police officer training. while the two are similar, PE training is basically a slightly watered-down version of the real thing.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 7:19 PM on June 6, 2005


pt68: . . . thank you, Mefites, for such strong, level-headed discussion . . .

For real -- we're up to nearly 400 comments now, and although there's still plenty of disagreement, there's no hint of a proper flame war. I even learned a thing or two.

I don't know how to feel right now.

/curls up in fetal position
posted by LordSludge at 8:07 PM on June 6, 2005


kicks shit out of lord sludge, sprays him with pepper spray, then tazers him. "resisting arrest, your honour!"
posted by five fresh fish at 9:31 PM on June 6, 2005


Well, I was being belligerent, and had it coming...
posted by LordSludge at 12:01 AM on June 7, 2005


Special K stands by his comment about "the dregs of humanity"

You live in/near the wealthiest country in the world, Special K (or are you Canadian?). And this country has managed to sustain a permanent underclass of dirt-poor, unemployed, untrained, illiterate, uninsured, laid-off, down-sized and working poor, without job security or pensions or even cars or permanent housing, who live worse off than their parents' and grandparents' generations, people totally ignored by politicians, to the extent that they don't even bother voting anymore, for whom school is a waste of time, who eat crap and are fat and depressed, or alcholic and addicted, or homeless or imprisoned. There's a huge number of these people out there, all around you, millions of them. Some of them are underpaid policemen. Life is full of idiots, liars, criminals and meanness - how you manage to single out the poor (or who are you singling out?) for specific and enlarged criticism is beyond belief.
posted by faux ami at 3:10 PM on June 7, 2005


Sorry, I shouldn't have put all that personal politics there, excuse me really, but seriously, do you think that poor people are less entitled to meanness or stupidity or inattention to authority than anyone else? Excuses, again.
posted by faux ami at 3:41 PM on June 7, 2005


faux ami : "how you manage to single out the poor (or who are you singling out?) for specific and enlarged criticism is beyond belief."

This is just a guess, but I personally interpreted "dregs of humanity" not as "the poor", but as "criminals". Cops deal with criminals all the time, and criminals (in many cases, not all. i.e. not jaywalkers or loiterers, but muggers and rapists) can be called the "dregs of society", so it made sense to say that the cops deal with the dregs of society.

Just a guess, though, and my interpretation may be wrong.
posted by Bugbread at 4:57 PM on June 7, 2005


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