Top 10 Absurd Taser Incidents
August 9, 2010 | Lists
In his book, “I Drink For a Reason” (Editor’s Note: We’ve never needed one), David Cross, writes, “If a cop wants, he can beat the shit out of you and can often count on the tacit silence of a thoroughly corrupt police force to get away with it.” This is worth remembering the next time you’re stopped by a cop and decide to enlighten him on what television cop shows have taught you about your rights as a citizen as they pertain to dealings with law enforcement.
Unless they have a documentary crew waiting for them in the cruiser, cops will not hesitate to counter the finer points of your impassioned plea for civil liberties with the business end of a club. If you pose more of a threat than the combined intake of pastries and all that sitting around in a patrol car, get ready for a tasering.
The Taser has become a popular tool in the police arsenal, partly because a) its efficacy in rendering individuals cataleptic is comparable to the Sex and The City film franchise, and b) its use doesn’t require all the annoying paperwork that pumping someone full of hot lead does. A two-year Canadian study, found Tasers compared favourably from a safety standpoint to a baton, which, depending on one’s fondness for classical music or parades (and comprehensiveness of dental plan), doesn’t sound like a fun option either.
Of course, while some policemen enter law enforcement to serve and protect – others are just bullies with badges in the tradition of the cops David Cross was talking about. Here are some – wait for it – shocking reminders of the dangers of Tasers and why they should perhaps be abandoned in favor of macing, or those nets from the days of gladiatorial Rome. Here are our Top 10 Absurd Taserings!
A few years ago, a heckler would have had a difficult time trying to come up with good material to use at a Tiger Woods game. His corporation-approved seemingly soulless personality just did not lend itself to a good heckle — a boring chant would be redundant while watching golf anyway. Fortunately, the revelations about his impressive score card off the golf course — par if you’re setting that standard on the exploits of an adult film star at his retirement shoot — made Tiger a hell of a lot more interesting, and gave the game’s hecklers some needed ammunition.
Recently, a fan at the Players Championship in Florida was tased after he allegedly refused to stop heckling Tiger Woods at the 11th hole of the game. Being that for the most part a mild electrical shock would be required to keep someone awake during a golf tournament, we can only protest this action against a man who was only trying to liven things up.
Baseball is another game in which fisticuffs in the stands are often a welcome diversion from the tedium playing out on the field. A 17-year-old ran onto the field during the eighth inning of a Phillies game. As is the case with many of the people who do this, he didn’t seem to have any clear goal in mind when he took to the field, choosing to run in circles in the outfield. A police officer, who looks like he might have previously made the acquaintance of more than one cheese steak, gave chase. The teen could not have run forever, would have found escape difficult and wasn’t posing a threat. Nonetheless, the officer, perhaps sensing that there was no quick end to this slapstick scene in sight, fired a stun gun probe at the teen.
9. Mom Tased in Front of Kiddies
There are situations in which it would seem reasonable to lay down the voltage on a generally law-abiding mother of small children — perhaps when one hogs the floor at a PTA meeting. Pulling a mother over for speeding while talking on her cellphone and then zapping her when she insists that she doesn’t own a cellphone and wasn’t speeding is probably not going to stand up in court. It didn’t in this case as all charges were dropped against the mother and the officer’s use of the Taser was under investigation.
Given that in almost all of the other cases on this list, the police departments involved issuing statements supporting their officers’ use of force, this one must have been featured on Good Morning America, and so it was:
Tasing a woman while her kids are in the minivan — bad form. Tasing a woman while the offspring is in utero: well, it’s harder to imagine worse form. An officer stopped a woman for speeding. She reportedly accepted the ticket, but refused to sign for it, thinking that it meant she was admitting guilt. The officer then called in for backup and, when the woman still wouldn’t sign for the ticket, the decision was made to arrest her. Officers tried to haul her out of the vehicle, but this defiant bearer of human beings grasped the steering wheel and couldn’t be budged. Rather than, say, waiting for her to need to exit the vehicle to pee — which mothers that far along apparently feel the need to do quite often — they tased her.
If this were a comic book, the unborn child could have been expected to have been born with a superpower, but she wasn’t, nor was she harmed — the woman delivered a healthy baby girl a month later.
7. Elderly Woman, 87, hooked up to oxygen tank
We hereby recommend that tasers not be used in a situation where the person getting tazed could reasonably be expected to lapse off to sleep within about five or 10 minutes. Such was the case here when police were called in to tend to a troubled 87-year-old woman who needed an oxygen tank to breathe. We don’t have this at number one, because Granny did pull a kitchen knife out from under her pillow and wave it at the officer saying that she had “killed four Japs” in WWII and she wouldn’t a bit adding his name to her shit-list. But again, stepping back from the bed and counting to 100, or maybe giving a non-fatal fiddle of the controls on the oxygen tank, could have resolved this situation in a much more face-saving way for the force than zapping someone who lived long enough to be able to make age-appropriate World War II racism-laced threats.
A septuagenarian Texan was clocked going 60mph in a 45 construction zone,and instead of rewarding her for defying stereotypes, she was stopped by police. Ordered out of the vehicle, under threat of a Tasing she replied, “I dare you”, which, as we’ve seen in shows like Law & Order SVU, is license for someone flashing a badge to take you down to the dockyard and make an example of you. The Texas judicial system apparently operates like most schoolyards in that daring someone to do something completely justifies that person’s actions. The cop was cleared of wrongdoing and one commentator actually agreed with the decision: “Her age doesn’t give her a free pass on speeding.”
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are mostly depicted in either positive or benign terms in popular culture — some guy and his deaf pet wolf on a second-rate TV show; the one exception being an ill-fated wrestling gimmick in the 1990s. They “always get their man”, so the saying goes (though one wonders how “their man” never sees them coming with those garish red coats they wear). But lately the Mounties have acquired a dismal reputation —accused of incompetence in the Air India Bombing and Tasering a mentally challenged Polish immigrant to death at Vancouver Airport.
They made it even more difficult to reconcile the image of Dudley Do-Right with reality when they tasered a guy who checked all the boxes of someone unlikely to pose a threat to anybody but an overworked nurse: he was blind in one eye, hard of hearing, had a neurological problem that affected his speech. Did we mention the guy was 68 and a stroke victim?
Well someone has to enforce the rules against double parking and that’s what the officer did here.
Editor’s Note: Between this and number 10, can we propose an upper age limit for Tasering? Say physically fit late 50s? Perhaps it should be a badge-stripping offense if an officer needs weaponry to get the better out of a subject carrying more prescriptions than weapons.
4. 10 Year Old Arkansas Girl
We could also use an age limit on the low side. Let’s say 13, but only if the suspect is one of those 13-yaer-olds who smokes cigarettes, gets five o’clock shadow and looks like he’s been working at an auto mechanic’s shop for the past five years.
An officer was sent to collect a 10-year-old girl upon her mother’s request. This seems an unnecessary waste of an officer’s time when psychotropic drugs dropped down the gullet of overly rambunctious youngsters seem to work for so many parents, but we’re not experts on this sort of thing. The officer showed up at the house and found the girl on the floor kicking and screaming. The mother told the officer to break out the Taser, which he did. Defending his officer’s actions, a supervisor said the Tasering was “very, very brief”, a half-Tase, perhaps? Maybe even a quarter-shocker? We don’t want to test out this theory, but we’re guessing that even the briefest Tasing is far more unpleasant than a static shock from clothing.
Having to crap in public is never pleasant, but it’s made less so when you have to wait to do it, as you know that barely any time has elapsed between defecations. Police had received a complaint that a man was taking so long in the washroom of a Dollar Store that he should have been slipped a fibre supplement under the stall door. They were called in to haul him out, however he didn’t respond to their knocking on the door, and, calls of “Hey buddy, you stuck?”, or whatever it was they said. If he had responded, it would likely have been coincidental — request for extra bog roll perhaps — as the man was deaf. Cops nonetheless used pepper spray and Taser to haul him out.
Please read the description carefully, it says “unarmed, legless” guy. We were unable to find a case of a cop tasering an armless, legless guy, but our lives are too rich to fritter away by paying such slavish attention to thoroughness. Still one would think that a man being legless — in the amputee, rather than drunken sense, although maybe he was that too — would have been enough to prevent his number from coming up in the “You Just got TASED” sweepstakes, but then again, who are we to question the actions of law enforcements? Well, The Shark Guys, of course! In their report, officers wrote about a hostile crowd forming as they were trying to get the suspect into custody, presumably in an attempt to justify their actions. If a crowd witnessing a legless man getting on-the-spot electroshock therapy isn’t somewhere on the emotional spectrum between “sickened” and “enraged”, then that is not a crowd of which we would want any part.
We’ve brought you the elderly, children, a stroke victim, a deaf guy and a man without legs. Next on our countdown of Disabled People Dazed By The Taze, we go all the way to Dayton Ohio to bring you a woman who not only had cancer but was blind too yet still got the zap.
Officers knocked on the woman’s door, looking for her son who had an outstanding warrant. She opened the door and when they announced they were police, she freaked out, as apparently someone had tried that on her before in a robbery. In what sounds like some bad police spin, a spokesman said, “She was able to force herself down on to the floor and not be cooperative.” How do you force yourself to the floor? And is any mobile person without this ability? After that she apparently grabbed on to the leg of the officer and that’s when the tasing happened.