Driver tasered for refusing to sign traffic ticket

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91 Responses to “Driver tasered for refusing to sign traffic ticket”

  1. JakeK says:

    The taser is not a weapon of last resort. It’s actually officially considered a low level use of force below pepper spray (which has longer lasting effects), the baton (which can cause serious injury and break bones) and the handgun. It’s used in place of physical restraint where the cop or suspect might get injured in a scuffle. That’s why tasers seem to come out a lot. It’s not that cops are lazy. They take the place of actually grappling with suspects. In this case (and probably many others) it seems like the cop could have been clearer in his instructions. But once he asks the guy out of the car, he clearly means to arrest him. And the fact that the driver is being so argumentative and actually walks away is actually grounds to escalate. The cop should have been more insistent, though, rather than tasering the guy.

  2. dculberson says:

    Amazing .. my (reasonably-worded) comment criticizing the weasel language in the linked post was deleted. Thanks.

  3. cajunfj40 says:

    I haven’t watched the video (at work) so the only constructive thing I can add here is that one can look up the relevant statutes and/or rules for “use of force”. For Utah, it’s found in the Utah Code, Section 76-2-403:
    ” 76-2-403. Force in arrest.
    Any person is justified in using any force, except deadly force, which he reasonably believes to be necessary to effect an arrest or to defend himself or another from bodily harm while making an arrest. ” (source: http://le.utah.gov/~code/TITLE76/htm/76_02023.htm)

    I can’t find a Utah State Patrol department policy online for “use of force”. Anyone out there with better web-fu who wants to give it a crack? I’m looking for the policies for “escalation of force” so we can see the steps from “Do X.” to “ZAP!”.

    Since I can’t get much traction finding the relevant Utah State Patrol policies, I’ll look to my hometown.

    The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) policy 5-300 (here: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/mpdpolicy/5-300/5-300.asp) cites the Minnesota Statute 609.06 on “use of force”, and has this quote from Graham vs. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989) (found here: http://supreme.justia.com/us/490/386/case.html) regarding “reasonable”: “Because the test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment is not capable of precise definition or mechanical application, its proper application requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case, including:

    • The severity of the crime at issue,

    • Whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and;

    • Whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of the reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.” (emphasis in the original)

    It also mentions that usage must be in compliance with current MPD training.

    IMHO, (IANAL) the driver has a case against the trooper here for excessive force. The technicalities to be argued will probably be:
    A.) whether the driver could reasonably be expected to know that he was under arrest (and thus know that walking away would be considered resisting arrest or fleeing from arrest).
    B.) whether the officer followed Utah State Patrol policy in the escalation of the incident and the use of a non-lethal weapon on the driver to prevent the driver from fleeing.
    C.) whether the use of the taser, to a reasonable officer in possession of the facts at the time of the tasering, is reasonable.

    The non-substantive thing I can add is that IMHO the officer’s actions were not reasonable. Officers, when making an arrest, please say “You’re under arrest.” before threatening to use or using any force, mmkay? Words before volts, please!

    Later,
    -cajun
    (IANAL, I just have some mild Google-fu for finding laws.)

  4. mightymouse1584 says:

    how much bodily harm could that guy possibly be imposing on the cop with his back turned? honestly…

    to be fair he doesnt crack his head open…. that should prolly be changed.

  5. Tomas says:

    “But once he asks the guy out of the car, he clearly means to arrest him.”

    That is where I disagree.

    The officer refuses to explain anything and not until well after he has used a Taser on an un-resisting civilian does he even bother to indicate IN ANY WAY that the person is under arrest.

    The officer – sorry, “Trooper” (I don’t want to get Tazed) did not communicate that failure to sign would result in arrest, he did not tell the person he was under arrest, he simply pulled was could EASILY be mistaken for a gun by a mere civilian and essentially shot him in the back with no warning.

    This particular Trooper should be reprimanded and not allowed on the street, interacting with civilians, until after he is re-trained and proves that he understands he MUST comply with the law himself.

    Tom

    P.S. Please remember, citizens are ONLY required to follow the LEGAL orders of any law enforcement officer. Blind obedience to just ANY order is not required, and never has been.

    Tom

  6. Ceronomus says:

    In a society where a father will beat another man to death at his son’s hockey game is it a shock that we have police that behave as badly as the rest of America?

    Sometimes I think that our society as a whole needs to tone it down a notch. Things like this should never happen…but they are happening in all walks of life with greater frequency. Police misconduct is just more visible, and certainly even more frightening.

  7. JakeK says:

    You must of missed the part of the video where the cop tells the driver to put his hands on the car. And where the driver verbally refuses, walks away and puts his hand in his pocket.

  8. JakeK says:

    Also, when a cop makes a stop he’s not going to allow the guy to go back to his car. Because the suspect may be going for a gun. They’re trained not to do that. So when the driver refused to put his hands on the car and walked back towards his own car and put his hand in his pocket, he made the situation more tense.

  9. mightymouse1584 says:

    and you must have missed the part where the officer pulls out the taser BEFORE the civilian turns around and starts to walk away with his hand in his pocket. That cock bite walks back to his patrol car, puts down his clip board, and takes out his taser without thinking twice. It is obvious he is using the taser as a means of putting the citizen in his place rather then as a means of self defense.

  10. mrfitz says:

    So I guess the rule is now that if you don’t do exactly as they say, they can taze you. I’m sure the police, wealthy landowners, and public officials are fairly content with that idea.

  11. kaosdevice says:

    Anyone else noticing there are a lot of people going wild with tasers these days? Unless there is a current media hunt for taser misuse stories going on.

  12. KurtMac says:

    Are we all going to need to start carrying our own tasers in order to defend ourselves against trigger-happy taser toting police officers?

  13. Lee S says:

    Anyone who thinks we aren’t living in a police state isn’t paying attention

  14. EH says:

    Cops are trained to be wimps. Their only reaction is to escalate the situation so that they can put the person into handcuffs or shoot them. These are their only techniques.

  15. Cpt. Tim says:

    “I don’t agree that police officers, even the the small minority of bad ones, should be called “tax-fed parasites.”

    I’d call the bad ones that, in a heartbeat. My sisters a cop, and a damn good one. She got suspended for turning in the corrupt chief of police at her dept. Huge legal battle but they finally brought the bastard down. Wasn’t easy for my sister who was a mother of three with bills to pay. But there are cops out there that care about keeping the ranks clean.

  16. JakeK says:

    He does pull the taser out quickly but he doesn’t fire right away. He fires after the guy starts walking away and ignores his warnings.

  17. Crash says:

    #5: It’s the latter: there’s a fad for reportage about tasers right now because they are relatively new. The same thing happened when pepper spray was first introduced.

    In fact, there are lots more pepper sprayings and clubbings than taserings under circumstances similar to here, but they don’t get reported because there’s no novelty in them.

  18. korrontean says:

    I can’t believe Americans permit being treated this way. This calls for a revolution.

  19. stpete420 says:

    #9:

    Revolución! Tell me where to sign, where to blog, where to login. Our Constitution used to say “Of the People, By the People, For the People”. Now it can be said to say “Of the Corporation For the Corporation”.

    That’ll get me scroogled.

  20. JakeK says:

    I agree this seemed to be excessive use of force. But the driver contributed to the situation by being difficult from the start and walking away. You don’t have to sign the ticket which is really just a summons to appear in court, but if you do refuse to sign the officer can make an arrest. The reason why he was stopped is because he broke the law. It’s the cops call. So when the guy walked away he was resisting arrest. Really, the cop should have just pulled the guy back to the car instead of zapping him. A road side is a bad place to fight the power. Just sign the ticket and fight the ticket in court.

  21. cynon says:

    “Civil Servant often equates to Civil Master”
    -R. Heinlein.

    As for tasers being harmless? As someone with a heart condition, they’d probably kill me just as fast as a bullet. Nice that I have to live in a police state where these kinds of thugs are growing to be more common.

  22. sasquatch says:

    I like how the first cop lies about giving him a warning before shooting him with a teaser. What a looser. I hope this video takes away his badge.

  23. mightymouse1584 says:

    yeah but

    stressful circumstances + pepperspray = more stress
    stressful circumstances + taser = death?

  24. Mikeblanco says:

    Don’t be absurd, Tasers have been around for over 20 years. Originally, they were used in place of lethal force, instead of shooting with a bullet you Tasered them. Now they’re being used to force compliance, which is a very different thing.

    Amazing to me are the people complaining about posting the video. Geez, we have indisbutable evidence of what happened and most people agree that the policeman over reacted and escalated the situation to a huge misuse of police time. He should find another job.

  25. ill lich says:

    More solid evidence that new toys like tasers make cops lazy. True, the driver was being uncooperative, but the cop pulls the taser out BEFORE the driver even starts to walk away, and clearly the cop could have just grabbed the guy and pushed him up against the car. Instead he causes the driver to fall on the pavement, possibly hurt his skull, and (of course) possibly wet his pants. Let’s say this was 20 years ago, and he didn’t have a taser, would he have pulled his gun out that quickly?

    Though the driver was uncooperative, the cop was uninformative and belligerent– he could have explained that IF the driver did not sign he could be arrested. Cops are people, they have bad days, occasional trouble in their personal lives, etc., but as representatives of the law they should be professional and meticulous, not lazy and belligerent.

  26. Elysianartist says:

    I really, really, really hope ths pg loses his job AND goes to jail. I also hope that boingboing will stay on this story and follow up with whatever the outcome is.

  27. JakeK says:

    What it comes down to is drivers have no recourse when they are pulled over. You are at the mercy of the cop who has all the discretion. The cop decides what citation to issue and if there is an arrest warranted or impound. So it’s in your best interest to cooperate with the cop. Especially if he’s an a–hole like this one.

  28. Crash says:

    #15: High stress and pepperspray were reported to sometimes cause asphyxiation and cardiac arrest by newspapers of ten years ago. The recorded cause of death was, for pepper spray as for tasers, “excited delirium”. The controversy over studies on its safety also resembles the recent one over tasers.

  29. Tom says:

    Jakek@15: You don’t have to sign the ticket which is really just a summons to appear in court, but if you do refuse to sign the officer can make an arrest.

    I’ve read this a couple of times now and think I can see a way of reading it that isn’t entirely Orwellian (My initial reading was “We’ll arrest you if you don’t do this but you don’t have to”, which I think you’ll understand sounds a little odd.)

    My interpretation is: it is not a crime to not sign the ticket. But the only way to avoid being arrested for whatever the cop thinks you’ve done is to sign the ticket. Ergo, the cop was in a position to arrest the guy.

    But this raises the question: is it ok for cops to taser everyone they arrest, even if they are just walking away?

    I don’t think this ought to be the case.

    Tasers are in the news right now because there have been a number of high-profile instances of egregious use causing death, notably of an innocent Polish man in Vancouver airport last month that was caught on video. And this has raised awareness of the way some cops are using tasers, as a modern equivalent to the old rubber hose filled with lead shot.

    Bad cops have always been with us, and always will be so long as we’re human. The taser gives bad cops an easy and relatively consequence-free way of abusing their power.

  30. a random John says:

    This is a local story and I submitted it a few days ago, only to be ignored.

    Both the driver and the cop display an amazing amount of bad attitude in the video. Neither one is the good guy here, but the cop seems to go out of his way to be unreasonable and escalate the situation at every turn. He’s supposed to be the professional in this situation. A few calm sentences from him explaining that signing the ticket isn’t an admission of guilt would have gone a long way towards avoiding confrontation.

    The driver is clearly clueless, expecting that the cop has asked him to get out of the car in order to talk to him, not to get shot and fall into traffic. The cop has no intention of having a conversation. Notice how quickly he pulls the taser out once he has the guy out of the car.

    Clearly both parties behaved badly and there are simple ways to avoid getting a beat down from the police that the victim here clearly ignores, but from the video this officer was looking for any excuse to put this driver in a world of hurt.

  31. arborman says:

    But all the guy did was ask for proof that he had broken the law. And the cop refused to do so.

    When the guy asked the cop ‘what the hell is wrong with you’ just before being tased, that is exactly what was going through my head as well.

    I’m starting to think that we should all be carrying video recording devices as a matter of self defense, just in case some uniformed thug decides to electrocute us for looking at them funny.

  32. Peter Swimm says:

    Well thank god that high profile affluent blog connected white people are starting to suffer police brutality. Maybe something will actually get done about it now?

  33. Jack W says:

    OK, Im not sure about Utah but in California, when someone refuses to sign a ticket, the next option is to take them before a magistrate…aka arrested and taken to jail till a judge sees them. BUT HOLY CRAP, there was no attempt to explain or reason with the guy….Im a cop in Southern Ca. and I have tased a few people and even been tased myself. This is NOT how you do this. This guy needs retraining at the least. I have no problem with tasing someone who is violent, aggressive or even just verbally threatening to resist. But this guy just acted like he didnt understand and was walking away. NOPE, this is one video I have to say was inappropriate.

  34. Kaiser says:

    Last week, within 48 hours of each other, two people in my hometown of Jacksonville, FL died after being tased. Both men were unarmed. One ran from police, not sure about the other.

    This is video illustrates perfectly how out of control the use of tasers has become. The office could have written “Refused to sign ticket”. Instead the officer thought the offense was so great the man’s life needed to be placed at risk. (falling on his head, falling near the white line on the side of the road.) If the officer didn’t have a taser, what was he going to do? Shoot the guy? How about talking to him. Novel idea, huh?

  35. ecobore says:

    This bastard needs to be prosecuted for grievous bodily harm – there was ZERO justification for that Taser use. That man needs to lose his job and go to JAIL! There is FAR FAR too much illegitimate use of Tasers now, they need to be classified as firearms and their use EACH and EVERY time fully shown to be justified. In fact EVERY Taser should carry a digital recording device so that there is video evidence for or against usage.

  36. gandalf23 says:

    stressful circumstances + pepperspray = death if you have asthma

    Fixed it for you.

    I was peripherally hit by pepper spray several years ago when jerk set a canister off in a classroom. Very nearly died from it. Had to get rushed to the emergency room. Not fun. Now I’m more scared of it than I am of being shot, since everyone knows that shooting equals a trip to the ER, but pepper spray? He’s probably just faking it.

    My understanding is that signing the ticket is you agreeing to appear in court. If you don’t sign, it’s like telling them “I’m not going to pay for this or appear in court.” So they then arrest you to make sure you show up in court.

  37. Benjamin says:

    C’moooon… all he had to say was ‘don’t tase me, bro.’ XD

  38. CuriousMoonCloud says:

    Even scarier than the fact that a non-aggressive Individual was needlessly tasered,
    is the clueless cop’s creepy nonchalant attitude of business-as-usual.
    Wow, police state is not a bad dream, it’s a F’ed up here and now reality that we must find intelligent ways of conquering.
    Suggestions anyone ???!

  39. Jack W says:

    Gandalf, they do have a digital record of the date, time and how long the taser is applied. This is in ALL tasers. Taser international recently developed a “tasercam” that is mounted inside the camera. The point is Taser agrees and is making the technology to record the use available

  40. Mechphisto says:

    @15: “So it’s in your best interest to cooperate with the cop. Especially if he’s an a–hole like this one.”

    I dunno, I’m of two minds about this. Most cops are doing a public service I don’t want to do–dealing with real criminals, dangerous situations, and post-crime scenes.

    But when we start just accepting an attitude of “Do what they say and it’ll all be over soon,” it sounds too scarily like a police state at best. How far do we want to accept just putting up with someone with a badge who has power issues? In general?

    BTW, I’m not sure if anyone’s mentioned it–but unless I’m missing something, the cop pulls the guy over BEFORE he reached the (very temporary) speed limit sign. Seems kinda suspicious here.

  41. mightymouse1584 says:

    I love the idea that tasers are just as harmless as night sticks and pepper spray. The UN certainly seems to think tasers are bad enough to say something about it
    http://wcbstv.com/national/taser.torture.united.2.595058.html
    I’m sure pepper spray and clubs can cause just as much harm, but even paper cuts can eventually result in death. Lets try to prioritize appropriately.

  42. Jack W says:

    oops that last was a response to Ecobore, not Kaiser…my mistake.

  43. EdT. says:

    @#9-

    korrontean said, “I can’t believe Americans permit being treated this way. This calls for a revolution.”

    Didn’t you hear? That became illegal a while ago… :-(

  44. Ripcord2 says:

    @ Ceronemus, #69:

    “In a society where a father will beat another man to death at his son’s hockey game is it a shock that we have police that behave as badly as the rest of America?

    Sometimes I think that our society as a whole needs to tone it down a notch.”

    What you say may be more or less true, but don’t remove responsibility from this cop for his actions. The way he handled this situation was way out of line, and we need to insist that it be corrected.

    Besides, blaming things on “society” isn’t terribly practical. How do we “fix” society? I don’t think you can put together a workable plan to get there.

    We can, however, come up with actionable plans to respond to this incident, and even work towards things to help prevent it from happening again. And if we react, in general, with appropriate outrage when these kinds of things happen, then “society” naturally starts to improve as a result.

  45. Neuracnu says:

    In all fairness, the subject of this article is inaccurate. The young man in this video wasn’t tased for refusing to sign a traffic ticket; he was tased for resisting arrest. Yes, slowly walking away from a cop who has asks you to submit counts as resisting arrest.

    So, the real issue here is whether it’s acceptable for police, when subduing a suspect, to use tasers in lieu physical restraint.

  46. minamisan says:

    at some point in the future, any contact with a police officer will simply begin with a tasing. once you’re on the ground, cuffed and compliant, he/she will start speaking to you about the issue at hand.

    the police spokesperson in the CBS report looked pretty uncomfortable about all this, though. i’d be surprised if there wasn’t a large compensation payout (settled out of court) coming soon.

  47. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    I am bleeping tired of hearing how someone “contributed to the situation” by not behaving with utter meekness and a perfect understanding of the situation, right before some officer tasers him.

    Tasers were meant to be a mechanism for administering a sub-lethal amount of force in situations where the officer’s only other options would be a nightstick or gun. They’re neither safe nor harmless. They’re just better than shooting the guy.

    It’s increasingly obvious that officers are using tasers inappropriately. They’re tasing people they don’t like, or who aren’t complying fast enough to suit them. They’re doing it to simplify awkward and confusing situations when they don’t want to be bothered to sort things out.

    It seems to me that these stories used to be about officers who lost their heads under stress and tasered someone they shouldn’t, but that more and more of them are about officers calmly tasering someone as punishment for noncompliance, or for not complying fast enough, or for questioning orders.

    None of those things are crimes, except maybe for noncompliance in certain situations; but there are nonviolent procedures for dealing with that. What scares me is that officers are getting into the habit of administering nonjudicial punishment at will. In one case, you can hear campus security officers ordering a student to “stop resisting” when they’ve got him down on the floor and are tasering him repeatedly. That’s frighteningly cynical. They not only know what they’re doing, when what they’re doing is wrong, but they have the presence of mind to set up their defense in case they’re called to answer for it.

    If you read Boing Boing regularly, you get to see a lot of videos of people getting tasered. I don’t think I’ve seen a single one in which the person getting tasered didn’t scream the whole time. Sometimes you can hear them begging officers not to taser them, which pretty much guarantees they weren’t being belligerent and other options hadn’t been exhausted.

    There is no law on the books that says that officers may physically punish citizens who have unpleasant personalities, or are impudent, or who fail to comply fast enough. It doesn’t say that anything that technically constitutes “resisting arrest” warrants inflicting immediate and severe physical pain. It certainly doesn’t say that nonviolent, nonthreatening situations should be addressed with weapons that will kill some number of the people they’re used on.

    I would like this to be addressed before too many officers out there forget every nonviolent conflict resolution strategy they’ve ever learned, and get into the habit of thinking that interactions should be simpler than they are. Habits like that are hard to break.

  48. Scoutmaster says:

    No, no. Why should the cop have to respectfully respond to this idiot’s nonsense. If I was that officer I would’ve assumed that guy was either high, mentally retarded, or just a big freaking jerk. The police officer clearly assumed the latter because when the guy finally refused to sign the ticket he’d had enough. He assumed the jerk wanted to go to jail and he was happy to oblige. Telling him he was under arrest was no surprise to this jerk and once he started to walk away, tasering him was a final act of self-defense. Everyone with any sense knows there’s no point in arguing with a cop, even if he’s wrong. Even if he’s violent! You don’t fight back, you take your ticket and sign it and fight it in court if you feel you were wronged. If this officer thought that what he was doing was wrong he would have to quit his job. There’s no room for argument there.

  49. DeWynken says:

    You don’t have to be meek when pulled over, just be calm, and if you’re nervous and the cop asks you why you are nervous, tell the truth “I’m being pulled over”. Works for me :)

    As for the video..they both screwed up. YOU’RE TRAVELING IN UTAH for christ’s sake. I’ve only lived out here for 5 years (moved from NYC) and you aren’t dealing with pansy ass people, period. Especially outside of city limits. He should have signed the ticket and fought it in court. Cops don’t make laws, they enforce them. The video would have clearly shown he has being pulled over before the speed limit sign.

    Onto the tasing..the trooper was a dick. Period. Granted, he was probably already pissed the guy called him officer instead of Trooper (big mistake , people), but tasing should be a last resort before pulling a gun. It’s not like blondie was a 6’5″ biker with prison tats. What you have there was two jock cops pulling over some city yuppy and making him flop around like a freshly landed trout.

    verdict?

    both parties = asshats.

  50. meanie says:

    At a very basic black and white level you have to ask when its ok for a cop to slap/punch/kick you around to get you to act in a manner they deem appropriate. And then say, yeah use the taser instead. Everyone defending these left field taser attacks keeps saying, well its better than shooting someone, yet none of the cases would have warranted shooting the person in question.

    Its sad that democracy has been distorted so badly to mean equal audience, that if people can pose any defense they argue it to defend things that are mostly absurd just for the justification.

  51. simplehuman says:

    The militarization of police in America, coinciding with the “war on drugs” has bred in a much lower level of understanding with an increasing number of police officers. The assumption is now that the person being stopped is crazy/high/violent/armed. Going into a situation expecting someone to be coked to the gills and ready to rumble makes horrid events like this all the more common.

    I’d never argue that cops should be unsafe, they have a very difficult and dangerous job and many execute it with professionalism and courtesy. But if instead of focusing on military style training and increasing levels of weaponry more police officers were trained to deal with situations better before they escalate to violence we might see less of this kind of numbskullery.

  52. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    DeWynken, the guy they pulled over may have been unpleasant but police are public servants, on duty, who are expected to meet certain standards of behavior and obey the law. He may have been rude, and not the sharpest hammer in the bag, but the officer is the one who’s in the wrong.

  53. igpajo says:

    Scoutmaster in post #35 said: “Telling him he was under arrest was no surprise to this jerk and once he started to walk away, tasering him was a final act of self-defense.”

    Give me a break. There were several options the cop could have used first. His voice being the first option. He should have told the driver his options and explained that not signing the ticket could lead to his arrest. But instead acting like a rational thinking individual, the cop went for the Taser the second he set down his notebook. That was out of line. Period. There was nothing in the drivers behavior to warrant that up to that point. I agree with what Teresa said in post #34. This is a disturbing trend and I really think Police forces need to start looking at reviewing the policy that has led to police feeling the Taser should be used so freely.

    That said, I’m putting my money on this being determined to be a justified use of the taser only because the guy was fingering his pocket as he walked back to his car. All the cop needs to say is when he saw the guy reaching for his pocket he thought he might be going for a weapon. As a juror I would disagree with that reasoning, but I’m betting that’s how it goes down.

  54. igpajo says:

    Oops. Seems Scoutmaster’s post has disappeared.

  55. NY TROOPER says:

    I’ve been a police officer for 21 years. Officers that use excessive force should be disciplined, fired or charged criminally if the situation warrants it. Having said that, every profession has its assholes from cops to bus drivers and some of the comments here are just off base. On a traffic stop you never know, period. check out this video to see what I mean – heres where all the outrage should be: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cB2U2bwqaWY

    Oh yeah, what a lame interview by CBS news. The driver acting like an unsuspecting victim, give me a break. He was speeding, got caught and didn’t like it – so he acted like an asshole. He didn’t deserve what he got, but with your wife and baby in the car you act like that? Fight it in court – Jesus!

  56. brooksp says:

    Successful law enforcement which respects the rights of the citizens while adequately protecting the safety of law enforcement officers hinges on excellent communication.

    That said, this cop is an idiot of the highest order. This video could be used in a training seminar on “How NOT to Arrest Somebody.” The cop should have said “Sir, step out of the vehicle, turn around, and put your hands behind your back. Utah State Law allows me to arrest you for refusing to sign the ticket, whether the ticket is ultimately correct or not, and I am placing you under arrest .”

    Instead, he simply said “Ok, hop out of the car.” Of course, to the cop, the only time he’s going to ask somebody to leave their vehicle is to arrest them or effect a lawful search of their vehicle. So maybe this means “I’m arresting you” in the cop’s mind, but not the driver’s. This is especially true because the cop immediately turned his back and started walking back towards his police car (and the signs).

    Then the cop says “Turn around and put your hands behind your back” while the driver is facing him, and immediately draws his taser. The driver has, up to this point, no explicit notice that he’s being arrested, just that a cop who invited him out the vehicle and turned his back to the driver a moment beforehand is now aiming a taser at him.

    The guy, rather calmly, all things considered, turns around and starts to walk away. The cop tells him to turn around again! Which way does the cop want the driver facing? Towards the cop? Away from him? Who knows. Bring on the taser!

    The problem here is that while it may be OK to use force if somebody is criminally resisting arrest, a taser is probably excessive force here, and it’s not clear here that the driver was resisting arrest in the first place. Normally, we’d expect the cop to go for his handcuffs to make an arrest, and rely on a taser if he’s met with physical resistance. This cop went straight for the taser, leapfrogging several levels in the standard escalation of force. As for resisting, the Utah statute says that:

    “A person is guilty … if he has knowledge, or by the exercise of reasonable care should have knowledge, that a peace officer is seeking to effect a lawful arrest or detention of that person or another and interferes with the arrest or detention by … [among other things, refusing to comply with a lawful order made to effect the arrest.]”

    The driver certainly did not have knowledge that he was being arrested when he was asked to step out of the car. In fact, the officer fails to even use the word “arrest” until after he shoots the driver, the driver is on the ground, and the driver repeatedly states “Officer, I don’t understand what you’re doing.” Finally, the officer retorts, “I’ll tell you what I’m doing. I’m placing you under arrest.”

    Should the driver have known he was being placed under arrest? Watching the video, we can put the pieces together and say yes, but It’s tough to say what “reasonable care” is when you unexpectedly find yourself with a gun pointed at you. The driver’s arguably reasonable reaction to the taser here is not that he’s being placed under arrest, but that the cop is batshit insane.

    In sum, even forgoing the niceties of an explanation as to why the driver is getting arrested, one of the first things out of a police officer’s mouth when he decides to arrest somebody should be “I am placing you under arrest.” The cop here is a horrible communicator. He completely failed to grasp the differences in perception, legal knowledge, and expectations between himself and the driver. He did nothing to remedy those disparities, and everything to exacerbate them.

  57. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Scoutmaster (35), what’s up with you? You’re usually a lot saner than this. Pulling a taser is “a final act of self-defense” against a guy who was walking away? That’s not self-defense at all, final or otherwise.

    I think the guy who got tasered must have gotten under your skin, because you’re practicing some heavy telepathy on that video. The police officer and the driver can’t tell what each other are thinking, but you can read both their minds in detail, including their background assumptions? I don’t think so.

    Only about a month ago you were saying things like:

    He can say whatever stupid crap he wants but if a marine or firefighter kicks his ass that marine or firefighter should be arrested. This is America and violence is not an acceptable response to differences of opinion or glib comments.

    So what changed? When did you turn into someone who believes that

    there’s no point in arguing with a cop, even if he’s wrong. Even if he’s violent! You don’t fight back…

  58. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Igpajo (41), Scoutmaster’s comment is still there. I put it on hold while I checked to make sure he was the same guy I remembered from earlier conversations.

  59. Ripcord2 says:

    Scoutmaster said:

    “once he started to walk away, tasering him was a final act of self-defense”

    Huh? Self-defense?

    So, wait, the cop had to “defend” himself from the guy viciously…walking away?

  60. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    No, BSUWG, I am not missing the point, but you certainly are. So are a number of other readers here; and this comment is addressed to them as well. I’m talking about the same damned error that gets made every time we have a story like this.

    The point is not that “you won’t get tasered if you just do what the police say.” That is exactly the wrong way to look at it. The rule is supposed to be, “you won’t get tasered if you don’t present a clear and immediate physical danger to the people around you, and there’s no other way to deal with the situation.”

    The guy who’s been pulled over is angry, and is acting like a jerk. We don’t know why that is. What we do know, or should know, is that being angry and discourteous is not against the law, and it doesn’t automatically deprive you of your rights.

    As plenty of people have observed, the officer is not communicating clearly, and is not following standard procedures. Does the guy who’s been pulled over understand what’s going on? I sincerely doubt it. Are we even sure he can hear it clearly? In that acoustic environment, I’d be struggling to make out what another person was saying. And if they were talking to me while my back was turned, there’s very little chance I’d know immediately what they’d said.

    Being confused or hard of hearing is also not against the law, and does not deprive you of your rights. And here’s a really important one: civilians are not required to understand the fine points of police procedure. I’ll grant it’s useful; but this is not a police state, and we are not required to know police procedures on pain of being tasered. The police are required to explain procedures to us.

    Did the officer think he was in danger of being shot? Hell, no. He turns his back on the guy. He doesn’t secure the other passengers, or keep a close eye on them. So the guy who got tasered was digging in his pocket? That’s not illegal either. It may be inadvisable if you’re dealing with a panicky officer who imagines you’ve been sitting on a very small gun the whole time you’ve been driving, but that’s about it.

    I don’t understand why you guys are so eager to give away your basic rights. What you’re saying, in effect, is that police department rules are civilians’ laws. They aren’t. You’re also implicitly saying that an officer has the right to taser you unless you can persuade him not to.

    Yes, you are. Every time you say it’s the fault of the guy who got tasered because he didn’t hold his face right, or comply with some obscure command fast enough, you’re saying the presumption is that the officer has the right to taser him at will, and it’s the guy’s responsibility to not engage in perfectly legal behaviors because they might irritate or confuse the officer.

    And that is why swapping tips on how to persuade the nice officer not to taser you is not the point.

  61. gyusan says:

    If people simply made an effort to be a little more civil to one another, things like this wouldn’t happen. Here we have two dicks in a pissing match over what, a speeding ticket? Hardly the end of the world. Have we forgotten the concept of “pick your battles”?

  62. jess says:

    According to Cameron Roden, a spokesman for the Utah Highway Patrol:

    “Troopers that carry Tasers must also take a course on how and when to use the devices. They are taught to use them in three circumstances:
    The first is when a person is a threat to themselves, an officer or another person; second is in cases where the physical use of force would endanger the person or someone else; and third is when other means of lesser or equal force by the officer has been ineffective.”

    (from this story in the Salt Lake Tribune)

  63. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Gyusan, there’s also no law on the books that says officers can taser people for being stupid.

  64. JakeK says:

    I think we know why he’s being a jerk. It’s the same reason most people argue with the cop who stops them. He doesn’t want a ticket. And most of what goes on isn’t just police procedure. It’s in the vehicle and penal code. It’s not so much about giving up rights as just some really bad judgement on the cops part and really bad judgement on the drivers part.

  65. RealCatholicMen says:

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  66. sarah bagley says:

    You know, I really wish that tasers showed, days later, the effect that they have. I know that the point of tasers is that they don’t cause the same mid-to-long-term damage (swollen, red, streaming eyes from pepper spray, or large bruises or wounds from a nightstick) as other forms of enforcement, but I feel like the public reaction would be different if the driver showed up on TV and blogs, able to display pictures that correspond to the pain. (“Yes, CNN, and here are the bruises I sustained when the officer hit me.”)

    I haven’t been tasered, and even though my reaction is that in a situation like this tasing is unjustified, lazy, and brutal, there’s still a little part of me that thinks, “well, the guy looks fine now. It must not have been that serious.” We’re a society of images. The videos help, but the fact that the recovery looks so swift and complete only adds to the latency and subtlety of the fear we all seem to be developing of a police force entrusted with machines that cause tremendous pain without leaving any marks.

  67. DeWynken says:

    I agree Teresa, he’s in the wrong (cop). But, the driver should have sat where he was though and been clear about what was happening before he exited the ‘safety’ of his car. Hard lesson to learn the shocking way :(

    A classic example of your ‘safety bubble’ getting popped. Pre-taser proliferation era, the trooper simply would have grabbed him, tossed him against the car and cuffed him, leaving his shocked wife and baby behind to follow to the station.

    Anyone selling “Don’t Tase Me, Bro!” bumperstickers yet?

  68. rollerskater says:

    must move to japan soon, tired of my bros gettin tased.

  69. brooksp says:

    #48:
    “To be fair, the title should be, ‘Man tasered after walking away when told to place his hands behind his back by a police officer who had cause to place him under arrest.’”

    If you’ll read my comment, this is probably still not resisting arrest in Utah. The driver was not told he was being placed under arrest, and the order to put his hands behind his back was simultaneous with having a gun drawn on him. It’s simply a leap to say that the driver should quickly and reasonably realize he was being placed under arrest when he had no forewarning and the officer pulled a gun on him out of left field.

    The driver, like any reasonable citizen, expected that the officer would announce the arrest, if that were the officer’s intention, instead of suddenly shouting orders and drawing a weapon. The driver’s not going to pause to think logically about what the officer’s actions mean when they come as such a surprise. He’s going to think, “Oh shit! Gun! This cop is insane!” “Reasonable care” cannot possibly be executed so rapidly in a surprise situation.

    We all know what’s coming when we watch the video, but the driver had no idea what was just about to happen.

  70. OM says:

    …Of course, we all know what will happen. The guy will try to sue the “cop”, but all the judges in the state will say the [censored] was just “doing his job”. It will eventually get to the Supremes, who’ll refuse to hear the case on the grounds that it’ll open up too big a can of worms and upset the timetable for retroactively aborting all of our guaranteed civil rights.

    Bottom Line: The driver might have been seen as being an ass to some, but the cop was totally in the wrong by refusing to point out the speed sign, and went totally overboard with the tazer.

  71. mikesum32 says:

    It should be noted that the cop pulls his car in front of the sign to block it from view, as it is isn’t elevated.

    I doubt it’s even a legal sign.

  72. Clayton Counts says:

    @35

    “Why should the cop have to respectfully respond to this idiot’s nonsense.”

    Because it’s the right thing to do. The alternative, as we’ve seen, is far worse. That’s why, in a nutshell. The cop acted like a child who was deprived of his mother’s affection.

    An unnecessary use of nonlethal force should carry the same penalty as other cases of aggravated assault. If we are to take this video at face value, the driver posed no credible threat to the cop. What’s more is that the officer knew it.

    Perhaps some of you apologists should volunteer for Taser testing at your nearest convenience.

  73. woolie says:

    When I was a kid, the bedtime story was that the rule of law separated American civilization from police-state repression. Curious how life turns out.

  74. ill lich says:

    Moderator Teresa is right: it’s NOT illegal to be rude, if it were half of New York City would be in jail, and by that I mean the half that’s not already in jail ;-).

    I hate helpless situations like this. What can a reasonable person do when a cop is gung-ho with his taser? I imagine a “Mexican stand-off” where the pissed-off motorist pulls out his own taser as the cop is pulling his– if either guy fires, the muscle spasm will cause the victim to pull his own trigger, and they’ll both lie on the ground writhing, connected with two sets of pulsing electric wires.

    Ahhh. . . circle of life.

  75. Mikeblanco says:

    Maybe I’m obtuse but it wasn’t clear to me he was going to be arrested when he told him to turn around. If a policeman asked me to get out of the car at a traffic stop I’d assume it was for a drunk test. Can you really be resisting arrest when no one says, “you’re going to be arrested?” I don’t think so and the DA evidently agrees because all other charges have been dropped. So, it looks like he was tasered for refusing to sign a ticket.

    Presumably this policeman was supposed to be patroling the highway to make it safer for everybody. Instead he but on a show at the side of the road and spent the day at headquarters typing up a report. He should get another job.

  76. ill lich says:

    The bottom line is the driver may have been uncooperative, but the cop is clearly unprofessional; he is supposed to enforce the law and not dole out punishment. It was a speeding ticket, not grand larceny or assault. I have seen far more unruly and angry drivers NOT get tased on the various “RealTV” style shows (including one incident where the angry driver tears up the ticket and throws it out the window– the cop didn’t tase him, just told him that a littering ticket was $500 . . . the driver calmed down and picked up the shredded ticket).

    Would the cop have pulled his gun in this situation? No. Would the cop have pulled out his night stick? Probably not. So WHY the taser? I can think of no reason except laziness and/or belligerence, a la “I don’t want to deal with this bozo and his crap today”– well then you shouldn’t have become a police officer.

    The more people see bad cops using tasers, the more people will question the integrity of a policeman when they are pulled over, maybe leading to more use of tasers. It’s in the police’s best interest to make sure they all act with professionalism and integrity, or else this kind of thing could spiral out of control.

    In a free society airing this kind of video is the best remedy– it teaches people to treat the police with caution, and it punishes bad cops like the ones in this video. Even in Utah, I’m sure this guy is in for a load of scrutiny and probably some kind of punishment.

  77. tom10548 says:

    It’s about money. Cities and states acrue allot of revenue via tickets and the way to handle this is not to get mad, but to get even. Everyticket you receive is redeamable for one NOT Guilty verdict the next time you serve on a jury. You will never see the other eleven people again and it costs the state a fortune, definitely more than your ticket, to re-try the case. The lost revenue cuts into the raises the police receive and upgrades to equipment required to do the job. When you are on a jury you have more power than anyone else in the courtroom INCLUDING the judge.
    Use that power.

  78. Kyle Armbruster says:

    I’m with Teresa here.

    Honestly, I think I should be allowed to be as rude as I like with a cop, and he should not be allowed to do anything about it. HE works for ME. And if I don’t like what he’s doing, it’s my right to tell him. He doesn’t have any more right to tase me for being an ass than anybody else on the street. If I’m actively resisting arrest, and putting him or others in harm’s way, then by all means, tase away, bro. But until that happens I expect police officers to be professional, even if I’m not, because they are professionals. And I’m not.

    That being said, I’ve never really felt the need to be rude to a cop, and I have on 2 occasions called a cop back to the window after getting a ticket to say, “Hey, you were really pleasant throughout that exchange. Thank you.” After all, he works for me, so I should be able to give an attaboy if I think he’s doing a good job.

    If you actually do end up dealing with a dick of a cop, though, the best bet is to be totally cold and totally businesslike. Watch your ACLU videos. Answer questions with questions. Comply with direct orders unless they are not within his rights to give them. Basically, give him no legal reason to tase you, and if he does anyway, sue his ass into the ground.

  79. brundlefly76 says:

    Erroneous headline.

    He didnt get tasered for not signing the ticket – he got tasered for refusing to turn around and put his hands behind his back.

    BIG difference.

    In the first case, I guess you are making some sort of Pyhrric statement.

    However, in the second case, you are refusing a simple request to insure the officers safety. Doesnt matter what the original offense was – this is BAD.

    Deserted highway – actively disobeying subject – other people in vehicle – yup, I’d taser him too.

  80. tom10548 says:

    It’s about money. Cities and states acrue allot of revenue via tickets and the way to handle this is not to get mad, but to get even. Everyticket you receive is redeamable for one NOT Guilty verdict the next time you serve on a jury. You will never see the other eleven people again and it costs the state a fortune, definitely more than your ticket, to re-try the case. The lost revenue cuts into the raises the police receive and upgrades to equipment required to do the job. When you are on a jury you have more power than anyone else in the courtroom INCLUDING the judge.
    Use that power.

  81. Ripcord2 says:

    “Deserted highway”

    What? I couldn’t hear you over the road noise from the continuously passing cars in that video.

    “other people in vehicle”

    His pregnant wife and crying young child? No kidding, I can tell why the cop would be on edge. If the guy’s grandmother had been in the car too I wouldn’t blame the cop if he blew the guy away.

  82. Mitch says:

    “once he started to walk away, tasering him was a final act of self-defense.”

    Uh, thanks, I needed a good laugh, Scoutmaster.

  83. BSUWG says:

    The mod wrote: “I am bleeping tired of hearing how someone “contributed to the situation” by not behaving with utter meekness and a perfect understanding of the situation, right before some officer tasers him.”

    You seem to have written that after pulling my original comment, which I didn’t think was out of line. But hey it’s your call, I guess. Anyway, I more or less agree and disagree with you.

    How I agree: These cops are clearly abusing their power. This is nothing new for cops, as we all know.

    How I disagree: I simply think you’re missing the point. The point is: If you don’t want to get tased, do what the officer says. For example: If he says don’t return to your car, then don’t return to your car. How does he know if you’r going to run for a gun or something? Maybe that kid in the video wasn’t going to pull a pistol and return enraged, but that doesn’t mean others wouldn’t. Yes, that vid was intense, but cops see things 50x more intense every day than you & I do. They have to be prepared for every mental case in the world.

  84. BSUWG says:

    Teresa-

    Respectfully, you’re still missing my point. You wrote:

    “I don’t understand why you guys are so eager to give away your basic rights. What you’re saying, in effect, is that police department rules are civilians’ laws. They aren’t. You’re also implicitly saying that an officer has the right to taser you unless you can persuade him not to.”

    FWIW, that wasn’t my point *at all*. I’m simply drilling down into another area of the issue — one you’re not focusing on. Agreed, it’s a less important issue in the grand scheme, but it’s an issue just the same. I’m merely stating that, while it IS technically your right to be angry/belligerent with an officer and not get tasered (your point), the *reality* of the situation is that IF you are angry/belligerent with an officer who is predisposed to tasering, you probably WILL get tasered (my point). Right or wrong, that’s my sole point. There’s nothing political or ideoligical about it. I’m simply making a rational, objective observation. You’re focused, quite nobly, on *changing* reality whereas I’m focused, quite practically, on *dealing* with reality.

  85. Mikeblanco says:

    My son is handicapped, can’t walk but otherwise looks like anyone else. With his wheelchair in the trunk, looking at him in the car, he looks able-bodied.

    I live in total fear of a policeman, like this one, shouting at him to get out of the car and ultimately tasing, or even worse, shooting him when he doesn’t get out. No doubt the same people defending this guy will be saying “he could have had a shot gun on his lap.”

    The policeman doesn’t say he going to arrest him until after he’s been tased, and then he lies to the other policeman about giving a warning. Even then, he knew what he did was unsupportable.

    I agree with a post that someone made earlier. This is part of the overall corsening of America. When you watch COPS you see the police are often incredibly more brutal than is needed. If they act that way on camera, what’s going on other times?

  86. Jubal Cain says:

    I’m not in the business of defending asshole cops, but I’m kinda surprised it took 59 posts before someone mentioned that the driver got tased (bro) for digging in his pocket after being given the (rather unreasonable) order to assume the position. Anyone who has ever seen an episode of COPS knows this to be the first thing that will get a gun pulled on you, followed by four cops giving you a faceplant into the nearest hard surface, complete with a knee on the back of your neck. Yes, the cop is a dick, but I’ve seen a lot worse police brutality on just about any episode of the aforementioned (in the words of Bill Hicks) cultural train wreck that is COPS.

  87. jccalhoun says:

    What kind of moron do you have to be to not do what a cop says when they tell you to do something?

    That being said this cop is horrible at his job. Even before he tases the guy you can tell he is sloppy. He tells the guy to get out of his car and what does the cop do? He turns his back on the guy. That is just asking to get shot. Then when the wife gets out of the car he just tells her to get back in. Again, just asking to get shot.

    Even if we ignore the tasing this guy has piss poor training.

  88. Mikeblanco says:

    @59
    Well the DA disagrees with you. All charges were dropped except the speeding charge. Even with a vidio of the whole thing they knew there was no evidence of resisting arrest.

    I agree though, he wasn’t tasered for refusing to sign a ticket, he was tasered because the policeman is a loose cannon who was having a bad day.

  89. JakeK says:

    The thing is we live in a free society but not a lawless one. Everybody has to follow certain rules like obeying the speed limit. And once you’re actually caught breaking a law, even if its something minor like speeding, the cop is invoked with more power over you. So you have to pull over when he hits you with the lights, for example. Once you’re pulled over, there’s no use arguing. And like I said it’s in your best interest to just be nice because the cop might let you off with a warning. You give up no rights being civil. The cop is required to tell you what you’ve done and that’s it. He doesn’t have to walk the driver back to the sign to prove anything. That’s why you can contest the ticket in court. If you feel it’s unjust, tell the judge not the cop. Once you’re pulled over there’s nothing you can do. So refusing to sign the ticket is pointless. You’re getting the ticket whether you agree with it or not. And refusing just gives the cop grounds to haul you in and fingerprint you to get verification that you are who you say you are. It’s all in the law. The way the entire situation escalated is because of poor judgement.

  90. loraksus says:

    I’m going to view this a bit differently and say this – in the long run – is a good thing.

    It shows quite clearly what is an acceptable level of professionalism (or lack thereof – “hurts, doesn’t it?”) for the police. Furthermore, the behavior is also expected – the second police officer to arrive on the scene even says “good for you”.

    It also clearly shows that there are virtually no longer any guidelines for using a Taser. The police may use this (LESS lethal) device essentially at will and any use is acceptable use.

    The more people that are exposed to the fact that “the police” regularly practice this kind of violence against “the people”, the better. It means more people to try and push for reforms and if that doesn’t work (it hasn’t yet) – more people realizing that the police aren’t on their side, but are actually their enemy.
    With what we’ve seen from the police and courts lately, that might not be a bad conclusion to draw.

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