Cop Shoots Cuffed Teen In The Face With A Taser, Claims He 'Feared For His Safety' [UPDATED]
from the the-first-rule-of-policing-rears-its-abusive-head dept
[UPDATE: Several commenters have pointed out that the "his" in the quote "feared for his safety" may refer to the safety of the suspect (who may have been running into traffic), rather than the safety of the officer. I will try to find another quote that clarifies this matter and will add it to the top of this post when I do. Tasing someone while they're cuffed seems like a strange way to make someone "safer," but it's a better rationale than arguing a cuffed suspect represents a "threat" to an officer's safety. This incident does seem to have a bit more vagueness than other "feared for his safety" cases. In most others, the suspect has ended up beaten or shot, which pretty much eliminates the suspect's "safety" from the equation.
Why an officer couldn't simply run down a cuffed suspect on foot is beyond me, considering they have to pass certain physical tests before exiting the police academy. But if the physical shape of police officers tracks with the general physical condition of much of the population, it's easy to see why firing a Taser would be preferable (and quicker) than attempting a rundown. (I'm reminded of Christian Slater's character's quote in the seminal 90s comedy "Kuffs," delivered while undergoing physical training at the police academy: "Why are we doing all this running? Aren't we going to be driving around in cars?")
The "pulling his legs out from under him" quote is probably just an example DA Heckler used to illustrate how this teen's face ended up in the condition it did.]
Let's get everything else out of the way. Everything that might indicate this teen/perp got what he "deserved."
1. He was caught shoplifting at a Wal-Mart along with his 19-year-old cousin. He was positively identified by Wal-Mart Asset Protection.
2. He was arrested and cuffed.
3. He ran from the cops before they could place him in the squad car.
This kid isn't exactly a sympathetic character. He was caught red-handed breaking the law. He was on his way to being processed. But then he ran. And for that, he was shot in the face with a Taser.
This isn't according to the kid or his mother. This is according to the County District Attorney himself.
Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler tells NBC10 that police officers yelled warnings at the teen and fearing for his safety, they fired a stun gun to subdue him. The D.A. says the Taser struck the boy in the face and with his hands cuffed, the boy had no way to brace himself against falling face-first.None of this adds up.
How does a cop "fear for his safety" when a handcuffed suspect is fleeing police custody? It's highly unlikely he was running towards police officers in order to escape them, but the DA himself claims the teen was "struck in the face" by the Taser.
Marissa Sargeant, the teen's mother, claims he was beaten.
“The picture speaks 1,000 words. They brutally beat him,” Sargeant said in her Levittown apartment. “If he did fall on his face, why does he have scrapes and bruises all over his whole face, everywhere. Why is his nose broken? Why is his nostril lifted off his face? Why is both of his eyes black and swollen?”Maybe the cops just roughed him up a bit and somehow thought the ridiculous Taser story would cover it all up? Even the DA can't seem to get his narrative right.
“You take off running at a full clip and someone pulls your legs out from under you, and you’re cuffed from behind, you’re going to break your fall with your face,” Heckler said last night. “I could well believe that you’d have fairly substantial bruising, cuts and scrapes.”So, which is it? Was he struck in the face by a Taser or were his "legs pulled out" from under him? Either way, it's conceivable he'd take a faceful of pavement. But neither response sounds appropriate.
It's tough to make a complete assessment about this teen's physical size from a headshot, but to me, he looks pretty slight -- not like some overgrown boy/man who's jumped the development curve on his way to 6'6" by age 16 and who purchased his first razor at age 11. Even if he was running directly at the cop, his hands were cuffed behind his back. Anyone in law enforcement who "fears for their safety" when a cuffed perp starts running either towards or (especially) away from them should probably hand in all assigned weapons, whether lethal or not.
His mother is certainly being overly dramatic when she compares it to the Rodney King beating. This isn't an extreme case of excessive force. Nope, this is just the run-of-the-mill deployment of excessive force to subdue a perp who made the responding cops' job slightly harder. For the DA to not only swallow, but parrot, the "fear for my safety" line is sadly unsurprising as well.
This isn't a poster child for police abuse. This is just another in a long line of incidents showing just how frequently law enforcement members will claim to "fear for their lives" in order to justify handing a perp a little extra "attention"... or a full-on beating... or an instant death sentence.