Posted by Steve Lombardi
Does bad judgment or rude behavior by any citizen justify the use of force of an electric shock by the police in America?
Here we go again, another officer with poor or nonexistent communication skills using the Taser in a manner unacceptable in a free society. This new report comes from not New York City where you expect rude behavior to be the norm, but from the wild west of Glenrock, Wyoming.
Wasn’t it the Bush Administration that coined the phrase, “Freedom isn’t free.”? I’m left to wonder, free of what; free of excessive force from our own police force? Just going through the airport in America I’m made to feel like a criminal in ways you won’t feel going through airports in Europe. In Russia you get robbed over luggage charges but you expect it. In America we now get not just robbed by Wall Street, but there is a growing trend of being mugged by our own police forces.
Like many of the reports seen on YouTube and those that have made recent news, the police are using the Taser to effectuate an arrest but in a way to also punish citizens for what the officers perceive as some level of behavior that justifies force when the evidence would simply support either bad judgment or simply rude behavior. In this instance a 76-year-old man with a heart condition riding an antique tractor in a small town parade misunderstood where the parade route ended. Assuming tractors would do what they had done in years past at the end of the parade the elderly driver veered off towards the town park where in recent years a tractor pull had taken place. Apparently the office took offense and started a chase that culminated in a car accident. It seems the parade wasn’t going to end in the usual location. Instead of merely letting the old man on the tractor go, the officer chases the near octogenarian, another joins in with an SUV, there is an accident and while one officer removes the grandson from the tractor another points a Taser at the old-man and shoots him with it. The grandfather was unarmed and apparently in the officer’s eyes un-American. There isn’t any indication of resisting arrest, but then again there wasn’t an arrest so how could there be?
Why didn’t the guy who took the child off the tractor ask the old man to get off the tractor? Or if need be, he simply could have pulled him off the tractor. Why the use of the Taser? What were the facts about an old man that warranted the use of the Taser? But then again what are the standards for when law enforcement can use electric shock on citizens? Is saying it can be used to subdue citizens enough of a standard?
If there wasn’t any illegal behavior what justified the use of force? What fact justified an American police officer taking out a department issued weapon that can cause death and using it on an American citizen taking part in a parade? Once again we are back to traffic stops and the use of the Taser to punish the questioning of authority.
Has the 9/11-America redefined the Constitutional limits of excessive force?
Or is a declining America so scared of losing its place in the world that we are willing to punish anyone who questions our authority?
Are citizens so fearful of losing jobs to the developing world that emotionally we enjoy watching someone who questions American authority being shocked and made to go limp?
Are a few deaths acceptable to the many in order to quiet the demons in our heads that make us fear what the Chinese labor force is doing to our labor market?
Is speech free only when we speak it; but not for the other guy?
The wrong-way tractor driver is shocked and quickly the parade crowd gets ugly with the officers and no arrest is made. Really, no arrest is made? I wonder why that might be. Following the incident, the police join ranks, hunker down with the local county attorney who says there will be no apology and denies the police did anything wrong. After a post-parade circling of the law enforcement wagons they rationalize that no arrest was made because the situation was getting out of hand and nearly turned into a riot. Really, a riot? I wonder why that might be. Perhaps the county attorney and the Glenrock Police Chief should pick up a book about why the American Revolution took place.
9/11-America clearly is losing control of its government – we are quickly becoming a police state with a police-state mentality run by thugs. The only difference between the American police state and those like Venezuela is the level of education of those running this one. The county attorney and police chief can rationalize the situation all they want but the facts speak for themselves and so did the crowd that saw it in real time. The American way of life is becoming, or maybe it’s become an intolerant society post 9/11 being run by a police force with a thug mentality. Sort of like the thugs on Wall Street. The Wall Street thugs steal our retirement funds and the politicians and law enforcement thugs steal our constitutional rights to freedom, but especially free speech. Like the SEC rationalizing how they missed Madoff operating an investment fund that never traded stocks, this county attorney rationalizing the accident as a ramming is an over-intellectualization of the truth. Just like anyone with a brain knows the SEC turned a blind eye to an obvious Ponzi scheme, the county attorney not filing charges against the officers is just as lame.
As a lawyer I’m finding it difficult to understand what has happened to America since 9/11 and the advent of the Bush Doctrine. Under the Bush Administration one day of multiple terrorist attacks was and is used to justify the use of force against American citizens for any behavior that questions authority. The use of the Taser by law enforcement is a prime example of how the U.S. Constitution has been gutted. This technologically sophisticated cattle prod is being used so frequently and in so many situations that it’s clearly not justified nor understood by law enforcement and perhaps the American judiciary. What ever happened to just good old police work that required good communication skills, an even temperament and thick skin? Alternatives exist that professional law enforcement could use and would be better suited; but it seems that officers with low intelligence, poor communication skills and quick tempers too quickly use a jolt of electricity to justify what can only be understood in real time to be the meting out of punishment. It isn’t being used to enforce the law, instead it’s being used to punish for minor infractions, bad judgment or speech that simply questions authority.
I’m seeing commenter’s on this blog that have shamefully low communication skills and whose temperaments mirror the officers who are quick to pull out the Taser and use it on American citizens who deserve nothing more than a good tongue lashing. Conditioned by the sitcom we want instant gratification and the Taser seems to dish it out in a way that we get to see someone with a bad disposition shake, then go limp and fall helplessly to the ground. None of us want to look at the ones who run, shake, drop and die. Those are too messy. Like American reality show mentality we justify the officer’s bad behavior through rationalization to win. Like the Bachelor or the Bachelorette we fool ourselves into believing that valuable human qualities can be developed and discovered in just a few short weeks. Like Big Brother we give the officers and the county attorney the power of veto (POV) so their own bad behavior is exempted, then empowered and require no intelligent explanation. Just say anything and you’ll get to the final four because lying, cheating and scheming is now acceptable behavior in post-9/11 America. And this is the true Bush legacy.
It seems post-9/11-America can justify anything; even criminal behavior by law enforcement.
Is Free Speech Illegal in Post-9/11 America?
Where did people get the idea that questioning law enforcement is illegal? What created the impression that talking is resistance and can justify an arrest? If the standard-less use of the Taser continues to be tolerated by politicians and misguided citizens then the courts must step in and do what the other two branches of government are unwilling to do: stand up to Taser International and its growing league of thugs and say enough is enough. How many people have to die before the Court’s do what the U.S. Constitution mandates?
If freedom is not free then free speech certainly is.
One reader questioned why I draw the analogy that we are looking more and more like a communist regime backed up not by the rule of law but by a police force that use force to control speech, citizen temperament and the mere questioning of authority.
The traffic-stop-Tasering situation in New York involving Mrs. Harmon and the one involving the man in Alabama remind me of the U.S. Supreme Court’s situation in Jacobellis vs. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184(1964) in which Justice Potter Stewart in talking about pornography stated, I may not be able to define pornography but I know it when I see it. When watching the following video clips in real time and thinking through what law enforcement does in each I can say this: I may not be able to completely define police brutality but I know it when I see it. Like the crowd in Wyoming, the prosecutor can take a single fact, spin it and justify the officer’s position, but in real time the rest of us aren’t fooled.
To the people of Glenrock, Wyoming, as law abiding citizens you still have a choice. You can honor the Constitutional rights of every townsperson by throwing the bums out of office. Remove the prosecutor and the police chief and fire the officers involved. You’re better off with the criminals not wearing badges and having the right to “legally” carry deadly weapons. Take back your government and take back our country.
The terrorists may have taken down the World Trade Center towers but they didn’t rob America of its soul. America is still free to choose who runs our government. Freedom may not be free in an esoteric sense, but you better damn well not forget that in America speech still is.