Cops stun-gun a disabled 61yo man while he was riding his bike. He died.

"A 61-year-old Halifax County [North Carolina, U.S.] man died Tuesday, a day after police shocked him with a stun gun while he was riding his bike, family members said." The tl;dr: someone called the cops because he fell off his bike in a parking lot and hurt himself, and they thought he must be drunk and posed a threat. In fact, he was disabled, suffered from seizures and had trouble hearing (so he may have never heard the cops' warnings, most likely). He also suffered from being a black man in a Southern town with a long history of racist cops. (via @bikehugger)


  1. Apparently the cop had been on the force for just over a month? Doesn’t that make him a rookie? Are they allowed out on their own with stun guns?

      1. Your point is well taken, but the psychology of using a gun is very different from the psychology of using a less-lethal.  The first thing they teach you about guns is that you never point it at anything you aren’t prepared to kill.  Whereas they invented the term “less-lethal” because when they were called “non-lethals,” people treated them as toys with no permanent consequences ever.  After all, they’re not lethal, so they must be harmless, right?

        In short, people are far more eager and willing to use a less-lethal weapon than a lethal one.

  2. “Officer Turner then saw Anthony take something out his pocket and put it into his mouth.”

    Another victim of the war on drugs, then?

    We can haz national dialog on police use of force yet?

  3. I love that this kind of thing, that would until recently have gone unreported, gets spread far and wide so quickly. Same goes for the pig that pepper sprayed the students at UC Davis.I don’t think the police are enjoying the fact that they’re being watched. It used to be so much easier.

    1. I’ve really noticed that. But some incidents are still being covered up. In my home town, Springfield, MO, there was an incident right after the bars let out from a pub crawl in October. According to people I know who witnessed what happened, a middle-aged woman was pepper-sprayed point blank, until and after she was on the ground, a young black man was beaten in an alley, two young black girls were forced onto the ground and had knees dug into their backs, and many phones and cameras were either broken or confiscated, all by police officers.

      The person in charge of internal affairs (who would take complaints about what happened) went on vacation as soon as they figured out that people were going to be calling in. The local paper only talked to the police officers, who said people were resisting arrest and attacking the officers.

      This had nothing to do with any of the protests around the country, it was just people coming out of the bars, and there was a fight that got the cops called. From there, it escalated. The police in my home town are (generally, of course) assholes. Many of them are racist (in a town where there are few minorities), and they have little to deal with. It once took them 45 minutes to get to the site of a shooting, because they were dealing with teenagers and drugs, their worst enemies, apparently.

      I honestly think they saw the cops on TV, and wanted to get on a little of the action.

  4. This reminds of when I came across a drunk cyclist on the Manhattan bridge in the middle of the night. He had fallen a few times and had a bad cut on his head. I didn’t want to scare him, but tried to tell him to walk his bike home. He got a few yards ahead of me and then climbed back on his bike. Feeling helpless, I called 911 (to which they called me back at 3am to confirm the call) (good job, emergency service!). But the more I thought about it, the more I regretted my decision to call 911, because if the cops did pick him up, they would just have thrown him in jail for the night/weekend. 

    1. Actually, in that case, as long as the cops didn’t handle him roughly, spending the night in jail for the night/weekend while he sobers up might not have been a bad thing.  He could have harmed himself further or someone else if he had rode his bike into traffic.  And that cut on his head could have been worse than you realize; head injuries are tough.  A head injury mixed with alcohol is bad news.

      You did the right thing.

        1. 6h057 actually spoke to the guy he was talking about, so his assertion that he was drunk might be accurate.  Or it might not be.  It doesn’t matter.  He kept falling off the bike and was clearly injured, and head injuries are no joking matter.  6h057 still did the right thing. 

  5. At first I thought this was probably a case of “riding while black” given the locale – but upon reading the article it appears to be a case of “failure to genuflect to petty authorities”.

  6. Good thing the cop acted so quickly and bravely. That man could have gotten away with whatever it was he was doing!

  7. I understand that taxers and pepper spray prevent injury in situations. But it should only be used in violent situations! But apparently that’s been extended to being used when people are either belligerent and non – violent or just non-compliant. And it happens a lot. I don’t think anyone should get tazed if they’re just acting like an asshole. But cops just demand that people obey orders and they’re not always going to encounter people who will. And I don’t trust their judgment when they start doing it to people having seizures or sitting peacefully.

    1. Interesting you bring that up. Tazer’s, according to the largest US manufacturer, are only supposed to be used in a situation where lethal force is authorized. Unfortunately the pigs dont follow this policy, as they know they wont be held accountable. They were never designed to be used for compliance and this is a perfect example why.

  8. I just had someone on Facebook tell me:  “Just don’t do anything to break the law, and you won’t get tasered or pepper sprayed.”

    And then twenty minutes later, I see this.

    I just blew his ignorant, naive, bullshit argument out of the water, and I didn’t even have to try.

    1. Just don’t do anything to break the law, and you won’t get tasered or pepper sprayed.

      People that say stuff like that are brainless twats.  Sounds like you should un-friend this person from your Facebook and not have this person waste any more of your time.

      1. Oh, it was someone on a friend’s account.   I showed him this incident, and he said:  “If he was acting peacefully, trying to leave, listing to police and got hurt. That shouldn’t have happened. However the environment with the police is not completley their fault.”

        (typos his)
        And then continued to claim that the occupants totally deserved the police brutality.

        A lot of people have a knee-jerk reaction to defend police officers, even when they are faced with blatant evidence.

  9. Expensive wrongful death suit in 4…3…2…1

    I’m also waiting to hear the official report that, “the officer acted properly according to department procedures.”

  10. Wait… it was was racially motivated?  Do you know this for sure?  That’s a HUGE claim to make and something that shouldn’t be tossed around lightly.  Were you there? So you know, for sure, it was 100% racially motivated?  Also, southerners are the only people that can be racist?  Good thing I’m a black guy who lives in Boston, phew.

      1. Ignorant comments such as this infuriate me. Racism = stereotyping based on race. You = stereotyping based on geography. How is that any better? And are your comments based on any personal experience? Or are you just regurgitating the same nonsense that gives northerners an illusion of superiority?

        Unfortunately, racism is certainly present in parts of the south. As it is all over the country. It simply takes different forms. Look at how segregated the north is – particularly in larger cities. The south is actually much more integrated with races actually interacting with one another.

        For what its worth, the racial makeup of Halifax County, NC (where the story took place) is  52.56% black or African American and 42.57% white. While race certainly could have played a role in this incident, I would prefer to have more information before making such a lofty charge. I also think you should do a little research first instead of simply promoting more negative stereotypes because it is socially acceptable in the case of the south/southerners.

        1. Those poor, poor geographic regions. I mean, why shouldn’t we build stuff near the foot of Kilauea? Discrimination I say!

          My entire American life, I’ve lived in the South until a few months ago, and I’m quite attached to it in many ways. From your comments on population by race, I can safely say either you haven’t lived in the South enough, or you’ve lived there far, far, too long.

          Tell me, what was the population distribution by race of various segregated locales in the South before the Civil Rights movement? Do you think it was significantly different? What about South Africa during apartheid?

          1. I was not asking for sympathy as a southerner, but for people to understand that making any such generalizations is absurd, frustrating, and gets a little too close to what they are supposedly decrying. I’m not sure what that has to do with a volcano.

            I have lived over thirty years in various cities throughout North Carolina. From extremely rural areas with few minorities to large cities such as Greensboro (home of the infamous Woolworth’s sit in) and Charlotte (which both have equal ratios of blacks and whites). I don’t mean this as an “I have a black friend” excuse, but I am currently finishing up an Africana Studies degree in Charlotte so I am extremely interested in issues of race and have researched the dynamics thoroughly.

            Unfortunately, there was segregation everywhere prior to the Civil Rights movement. However, it certainly was not exclusive to the south-particularly in the cases of housing, miscegenation, job opportunities, and schooling. For example, during the Civil Rights era, Martin Luther King led a march through Cicero (outside of Chicago) to protest the unequal housing opportunities.

            Also, if you look at census data, the most segregated areas are in the north. Plus, there is an obvious reversal of The Great Migration starting in the mid-1960s with large numbers of African-Americans traveling to the south. This “New Great Migration” has resulted in a more integrated dynamic than exists in the north. Personally, I think race relations in the south have vastly improved as a result while the north remains largely segregated and much closer to an apartheid type system. Even in the case of new immigrants from Africa. While 50% of African immigrants have at least a college degree compared to 25% of natural born citizens, who is more commonly relegated to selling trinkets or food from carts in northern urban areas? Racism isn’t just using epithets. And it certainly isn’t exclusive to the south. So to say “all southerners are racist,” (as the poster I originally responded to implied) is ignorant and unfair.

          2. Implicit in a lot of what you’ve been saying is the assumption that a black police officer cannot act in a racist manner towards another black person. An African studies student should know better than to think blacks don’t segregate among themselves and adopt racist attitudes from the substratum influences of the mass culture they live in.

        2. I will give you a hundred dollars if you find out that racial ratio is represented in the all departments of officers of the law for that same county.  No, like 200.  If not, I invite you to bite me and hang head in foolishness.

          1. I do not know the racial makeup of the police force in that area. That was not my point. My point was that it is absurd to stereotype the south as racist. Particularly, when there is nothing in the linked article about matters of race.

            I do know the mayor of the town where this happened is African-American, if that makes you feel any better. Personally, I don’t think that is relevant, but you seem concerned with racial makeup of the governing bodies of the area.

      2. Fist of all, I think Officer Turner should be fired, prosecuted and sued into oblivion based on what I have seen reported, and if racial motivation can be demonstrated (not assumed) all penalties should be trebled.

        I have read most of the original reporting, and I can’t find a mention of the police officer’s race. I have watched all the local TV reporting, including interviews with Mr Anthony’s family members, and nobody mentions the officers race. 

        Scotland Neck is a small, relatively poor (avg. household income is only $24K per year) predominantly African-American community (68%) that has an African -American mayor and a predominantly African-American city government. There is a better than average chance that Officer John Turner is black. But I can’t find any evidence one way or another. Which means, you probably can’t find any evidence either.

        Don’t we have enough here to be outraged about ? Like, maybe, cops in general shouldn’t have tasers and OC spray in the first place, much less a one month rookie riding by himself (Yeah, Officer Turner has been a cop for a month). Like small town cops start off making around $10 an hour, and you get what you pay for (i.e. people who want the power of a badge and for you to respect his/her AUTHORITAH! more than they want to serve the public). Like EVERYTHING actually in evidence about this case. Can’t we wait to find out what race the officer’s  is, before we start going off on the “racist South”? When I read “This was in North Carolina”, I read it as you saying you know the whole story and none of it gets on you. It gets on all of us. It gets on all of us until we change what we will tolerate from the police. The last time I checked, Wall Street, Oakland, and UC-Davis weren’t below the Mason-Dixon

      3. Good call. Everybody knows that EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS IN NORTH CAROLINA IS RACIALLY MOTIVATED.  Thanks for reminding us.

      4. I think you missed DT’s point.  Having a history of racist cops does not mean the cop in question was racist, he could have been just been your Joe Average Tazer-To-Compliance kind of cop.

    1. It is not a huge claim.  Racism is a part of life everywhere in the US, especially in the south.  It influences all kinds of decisions and situations.  The idea that race is a factor in the response of a police officer is so obvious it almost goes without saying, but it does need to be said.

    2. Does racially influenced automatically mean racially motivated?

      I ask because the article never made the claim of racial motivation. And I think you’re going to be hard-pressed to find anyone in this world who is completely pure and untouched by racism.

      Or are you about to tell us why the police shouldn’t be sued because taxpayers are the ultimate victim?

    3. Wait… it was was racially motivated?


      Do you know this for sure?


      Were you there?


      So you know, for sure, it was 100% racially motivated?


      Also, southerners are the only people that can be racist?


      Good thing I’m a black guy who lives in Boston, phew.


    4. Hmmmmm… would you have preferred bikehugger to have said that the victim was black and the cop was white, but that probably had nothing to do with why the cop responded with irrational deadly violence.  Boingers are quite good at pulling up stats, but I digress I have 3 dozen pearl onions to peel and have no time to argue the existence of institutional racism.

      You don’t own a chain of shitty pizza restaurants do you?  Or have Sunday dinner with a guy named Tony?

      1. Cut off the root of each onion and make an X with your knife. Then drop them all in boiling water for about a minute. After they cool, they pop right out of the skin.

        Then come back and spend more time on BoingBoing. ;)

    5. By your logic, things like this shouldn’t be reported at all. After all, how do they know it happened at all? Where they there? So you can’t know, for sure, it actually 100% definitely happened.

      If you’re a black guy living in Boston, and you are unwilling to speculate that maybe there was a racial angle here, then I suspect you may have been tazed in the head once too often.

  11. If this officer was only on the force 1 month, why was he patrolling solo, as the article seems to imply? It’s hard to imagine that even a small town PD wouldn’t have some more seasoned officer riding along with him.

  12. They told us that tazers were great because cops would use them in situations in which they would otherwise have to use their handgun. Is that ridiculously transparent lie still operative at all?
    They now seem to be universally thought of as a “compliance tools,” which is EXACTLY what the dirty fucking hippies said would happen. *sigh*

  13. That’s the down side of less-than-lethal devices – people are less-than-resistant to use them. Don’t like the look of someone? Tzzt tzzt, squirt squirt. Sure it sucks – but it (usually) won’t leave any damage that a billy club or pistol would leave. The thing they forget is that these less-than-lethal devices CAN be lethal in the right circumstances.

    1. “That’s the down side of less-than-lethal devices – people are less-than-resistant to use them.”

      Calling lethal devices, even less-lethal devices, less-than-lethal is doublespeak; it makes it easier for the police and the press to forget that these are lethal devices. Let’s stick with the more accurate description, less-lethal, and avoid the official doublespeak, less-than-lethal.

    2. Sounds good to me.  But then, I don’t have asthma or a heart condition so I have a good chance of actually surviving being hit with either pepper spray or a tazer.

      We’ll see how you feel about a little “tzzt tzzt” you get your first pacemaker.

    3. “The thing they forget is that these less-than-lethal devices CAN be lethal in the right circumstances.”

      They need to rename them to less-likely-to-be-lethal

  14. Tasers are right there with pepper spray – things that cops now use because they don’t want (or aren’t any good at) handling situations verbally.  Cops used to be forced to learn to deal with situations, now they have these tools (taser, tissue-damage-strength pepper spray) that they can just whip out and torture (IMO) people who aren’t complying with their requests, and for some reason we give them a pass on it.

    I think that using a taser should be equivalent to kicking someone.  We don’t (or shouldn’t) let cops get away with kicking someone who’s just lying there, why should we let them get away with tasering the same guy?  Tasering AND kicking are OK if the guy is ACTUALLY attacking or a REASONABLE person would think poses an imminent threat to an officer, but you don’t get to either because the person is unresponsive and you think that’s a threat to your author-i-tay.

    1. John, who commented “…or a REASONABLE person would think…”

      The reasonableness test for police actions is currently “is this reasonable to another police officer” and NOT “is this reasonable to members of the community.”  You’ll see that written into laws and policies all the time.  In court, you will see this play out as they interview other law enforcement officials about the reasonableness of an officer’s actions.We really need to change this test of reasonableness.  Police authority is derived from the people they protect and serve, and they are not a special class of people.  We should have non-police community oversight of police actions, with real teeth.

      1. “We should have non-police community oversight of police actions, with real teeth”

        I would support this, as well as a non police commission on Forensics with outside oversight. Just look at the Houston Crime Lab for an example. Every few years it is another scandal. Pressure has been on for years but they wont change nor will the leadership consider it. 

  15. To go meta on this thread: a thought flitted (yes, that’s pretty much what the thought did) through my mind that there could be a website with all the names, photos, and other information of individuals such as this. Cops who attack without reasonable provocation, ladies who throw cats in wheelie-bins, patent trolls, CEOs who give themselves raises while the company sinks, that sort of thing. You could call it So that we the public would be able to find out about a person’s misdeeds so that they could never again be placed in a position of authority.

    But then I thought, at what point would a “barelyhuman” person become eligible for removal? Can Officer Pike ever be trusted again? Officer Turner (okay, okay: allegedly) killed a man, and if the facts in the case bear out, it would be involuntary manslaughter. Can he ever be trusted again? Can Mary Bale ever be trusted again in a community that has pets? Will their basic barely human nature ever change?

  16. This is very close to murder, in my mind. Guy shocks an unarmed man and the unarmed man dies.

    Most likely the guy gets a month off, paid suspension.

    What we need in this country right now, is a defined list of what law enforcement is allowed to do against us. Because right now it seems to me like billy clubs, pepper spray, sound machines are all fair game.

  17. That all being said, the SBI are getting involved, which means cops are going to jail. In my knowledge of NC incidents where SBI were investigating, things did not look good for the officers involved. I do think there will be justice here. 

  18. My wife is a journalist; she wrote a long story recently about over-use of tasers and stun-gun devices at the hands of the police and others.

    We’ve had the same problem in Canada. A man was tasered and later died in Vancouver Airport, in a tragic mix-up that involved language barriers and excessive force.

    What’s clear is that cops need to be held responsible for using these “intermediate force” devices in the same way that they are held responsible for discharging their service weapon. Anything less actually promotes the use of these devices, where instead of decreasing the damage police can do, in aggregate increases it.

    Also, the effects of tasering are not well-understood, especially in situations where the individual being tasered has an underlying medical condition, or is being tasered multiple times, or both.

    It’s terrible when this happens. We need to decide as a society what weapons we will allow our police officers (and others) to carry, and how we allow them to use them. We are, after all, their bosses. Not the other way around.

  19. Hmm, here’s an idea.

    Don’t issue tasers. Instead, issue taser bullets (they do exist, although IIRC only in shotgun calibers right now), and alternately mix them with actual bullets in the magazines issued to officers.

    That way, the officer doesn’t know whether they’re going to taze or shoot the suspect, and they’ll presumably take the care appropriate for using a firearm, rather than a less lethal weapon.

    So, there’s a chance of it being less lethal, but if the suspect doesn’t stop (for example, they’re on PCP or something), you’ve still got real bullets in there to take them down.

    1. I would feel much safer if police officers didn’t know exactly what their gun was about to do.  Especially if they were aiming it at someone in a thick coat.

  20. this is as open a forum as any to suggest to the Military-Industrial Complex; my innovative new idea in the field of prison-systems development:

    Jails for safely imprisoning the tidal wave of ex-police officers, sure to be hung out to dry by the system, once it realises the impressive fortune it will take in, not only defending the slew of neo-fascistas in the courts but the pyroclastic, PR nightmare of convincing the public that state-run terrorism shouldn’t just be hired out to private companies that may perhaps be more easily brought to justice in extremis.

    edit: it took me more than a minute to type that out, so I can only imagine that bhtooefr and I were synchronised in some ungodly way, so I should like to add; my immediately following his ‘idea’ with another of my own, should in no way be confused as endorsement.
    but srsly LOLOL. mix them in!!1!!1!!

  21. I hope this story does not simply go away. The police officers need to be suspended without pay until a full investigation has been completed.

    Heads should roll for this.

  22. From Brooklyn? No racism there. If fact, no racism at all in the Greater New York area. Praise Jesus, hipster doofus!

  23. Can we just assume that the cops involved are just shitty and not that everyone in the south is racist? 

    NC isn’t as bad as the rest of the country thinks it is.

  24. Maybe the cops will figure it out when people start shooting back…I’m afraid with the things are going it’s only a matter of time.  If the cops want to play their little “us vs them” games they are going to find out that they are very outnumbered…and out gunned.   A sad state of affairs for us and the cops who are doing their jobs as it’s meant to be done.

  25. Arizona (anybody think they/we aren’t racist? Ok, I’m not, but…) has had, at least two instances in the last few years where the family has called the police because they had a son who they were “…afraid he’s going to hurt himself…” Guess what happened? Yep, in both cases, the cops shot them dead. In one (Apache Junction), there was a big legal pay-out to the family, though “no admission of guilt” and in the other (Phoenix) the cop was actually charged. Granted, he tried to cover it up and his partner told the truth (now, how rare is that and guess what he’s suffering through) and everyone understood that, but for the honest partner, he probably would have gotten the “appropriate use of force” ruling. Best part; he tried to blame it on the dog; attacking, at kid’s command. Either way, the “unruly” teenagers are dead, by a ‘protector’s’ hand. Ask those parents if they still think it was a good idea to call the cops.

    To all the folks who think that the police are there to protect and help you, STOP thinking that way! It might help to understand that, while there ARE some good, kind, trustworthy cops, a lot of fellows who go into police work are those bullies, blowhards, and braggarts (insert your favorite small-minded, power-hungry descriptor here) who we all knew or saw in High School. Cultural reference; think Neidermeyer.

    Anyone who has never had any dealings with the police can be forgiven for thinking that they’re ‘here to help’. But the ideal and the practice are two very different things and, as any reasonable observer of the News should conclude and could point out, you’re taking an awfully big risk when you assume that they will fix the problem and make things better. The odds may be that they will actually makes things much, much worse.

  26. This is horrible news. 
    My heart goes out to this mans family. 
    I hope that the officer in question has to face severe consequences for his actions.

  27. Okay, I knew AZ was bad, but had no idea that NM continued with a trend that was apparent in the ’70s, at least, to those of us who lived there at the time and were paying close attention. Then again, folks who’ve lived in small towns usually know how bad it can get. Cops are bad, all over, it seems. I guess this link proves that it can actually be even worse.

  28. It’s obvious cops don’t value our lives much. Perhaps we should start reciprocating. 

    /modest proposal (?)

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