In the annals of obligatory HA posts, there may be none so obligatory as this. The suspect was arrested for leaving the scene of two traffic accidents; when they caught her, she had a suspended license and was high on cocaine and oxycodone. They put her in the squad car and then…
While she sat in the back of his cruiser, Maudsley removed her right hand from the handcuffs, the report said. When Cole opened the door to take her out, she told him, “I took this off.”
Maudsley was placed back in handcuffs and Cole took her into the substation, according to the report. As he worked on paperwork in a conference room, he sensed that Maudsley was moving, turned, and saw her at the main exit. He asked where she was going and got up from his seat before she ran out the door.
In an interview with investigators, Cole said he saw Maudsley turning in the direction of U.S. 19 after she exited the substation.
“If she makes it there, you know, there’s no winning,” the report quoted him saying. “I can’t let her get out and get run over,” he later said.
Cole ran after her, nearly caught up to her in front of the police station — and then pulled his taser and fired. She fell, smashed her head on the concrete, and now she’s in a vegetative state. The verdict of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on his taser use: Justified.
FHP policy allows troopers to use Tasers when it “reasonably appears necessary to control non-compliant individuals who have escalated their level of resistance from passive physical resistance to active physical resistance (i.e.: bracing, tensing, pushing, or pulling).”
The policy goes on to say it must be apparent the detained person has the ability to physically threaten others or is trying to flee or escape. It also notes that Tasers shouldn’t be used on someone who is handcuffed, but says there still could be times when even that is justifiable.
“The Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted an independent review,” Sgt. Steve Gaskins, a spokesman, said Friday. “FDLE’s investigation found the trooper’s actions were legal and within the scope of his duties.”
Follow that last link and read about the numerous ways in which they failed to restrain her properly. They cuffed her in front instead of in back, making her a threat to swipe at a cop’s gun if she got within arm’s distance, and they didn’t cuff her to the chair when they were processing her. Then watch the dashboard video of what happened in the second clip below. To my eye it looks like the cop is literally within about a foot of her as they enter the frame, but he’s already got his taser out and appears to be slowing up, having presumably decided to just zap her and be done with it. I’m not convinced he couldn’t have caught her if he had been running at full speed; on the contrary, it looks like he decided he didn’t need to run because he had the stun gun on his hip to slow her down. That’s the taser debate in microcosm: Should cops use it only as a nonlethal last resort against suspects who are violently resisting or should they use it to subdue suspects who are momentarily out of their control for whatever reason? Exit question: If he was afraid she’d run into traffic on the highway, how come he didn’t chase her to the edge of the highway and then, if he still couldn’t catch her, zap her there?