Via Becket Adams, it’s been too long since we’ve had a food fight in the comments about tasers and excessive force. Given how egregious the video seems (the tasing happens at around 2:20), I’m looking forward to hearing the pro-zap argument for this one. “When a cop tells you to do something, you do it or else,” right?
The cops were in the neighborhood because they’d heard about drug-dealing going on, but per Adams, that’s not what led to the confrontation. Three people were walking in the street; they moved out of the way to let the cops’ squad car pass, but once it did they drifted back into the road. The cops stopped and accused them of blocking traffic. One of the suspects allegedly ignored them and kept walking; he was arrested, whereupon his friend started yelling, drawing a crowd. And then:
It was at this point that Officer Woods writes in the report that “…I felt that my safety was jeopardized by the incitement that Young was providing” the crowd…
Officer Terry Mahan wrote in his arrest report that as Young and Rivers were being arrested, a fourth person, Voila Young showed up on scene.
“I addressed Viola Young directly and gave her more verbal commands to back away from our location,” Officer Mahan wrote in his report. “Viola Young responded by yelling “I just want to know what is going on!” I informed her that now was not teh time for that and to leave the immediate area. Viola Young verbally refused to leave. I informed Viola Young that she was under arrest and reached out and took her left arm. Young yanked away, turned and began to move away from me in an attempt to defeat her lawful arrest. I deployed my Taser and fired one cartridge striking Young in the back. Young was incapacitated and fell to the ground.”
He told her to leave, she wouldn’t, then when he told her she was under arrest she did, apparently, try to leave — and got tazed. More from the police affidavit:
“Viola Young caused me to take my focus off of one of the arrestees and engage her,” Mahan wrote. “Young’s actions obstructed officers while in the course of completing their legal duties.”
Even if the arrest was justified, why use incapacitating force to effect it? Here’s a chart from the Tallahassee PD’s website on what types of force can be used and when:
By “passive physical resistance,” I assume they mean people going limp while the police are trying to arrest them. But if you want to include walking away from the police in that category, follow the last link and scroll down and you’ll see that tasing is listed under ‘intermediate weapons” — an option that’s supposed to be available only for active, not passive, physical resistance. Which makes sense: In theory, the taser is only deployed when a cop’s facing a physical threat and wants to neutralize it with nonlethal means. Walking away from him is annoying but it’s not threatening.
Interestingly, the clip was uploaded not by the bystander who recorded it but by Tallahassee PD. The officer’s been placed on paid leave while internal affairs tries to figure things out. Here’s your official content warning for profanity, as there are many F-bombs ahead.