There is an article in the paper about a recent Taser incident that ended with the suspect in intensive care. Some claim it is the result of racism, and while I acknowledge that there are unfortunately still problems such as profiling, I cannot help but feel for the law enforcement officers. When they are faced with situations of non-compliance day after day, and when these situations are often dangerous to the officers as well as the general public, I have a hard time feeling terribly sympathetic for the non-compliant suspects, though I do hope that the young man in this case recovers from his injuries.
The only weak part of the story as regards the police officer was the fact that one of the Taser leads was in the back of the suspect’s head, and when he didn’t comply with the cop’s direct order not to stand up, perhaps the man was disoriented due to the jolt of electricity he had just received so close to his brain. I can understand those who speculate that the cop might have done better to jump on the guy during the first Taser shock (a person cannot receive a shock by touching someone being Tasered) and put cuffs on him at that point.
It is also true that his original charges were somewhat trivial, two misdemeanors for open container and possession of marijuana, but why not just show up for court? Once you miss your court appearance, you must know that there will be a warrant out for your arrest. So if the police find you and attempt to fulfill their duties by arresting you on that warrant, why run? You must know that the police will chase you, that is the job we have assigned them, and that your situation will just become worse.
At the same time, I know that we have to keep those with power in check. We have to make sure that the police do not abuse their authority, that they are behaving in a fair manner toward the public. It is possible to have a camera mounted on the end of the Taser so that the whole scenario can be replayed and investigated carefully, but the police budget won’t allow for it.
It seems to come down to the fact that we the public expect the police to keep us perfectly safe using perfectly safe and fair methods, whether we comply or not, and to do it all with a minimum of funding.
Since Tasers are being more widely used, we hear more often about the dangers associated with them, but the truth is that any chase and any method of subduing a suspect is going to be dangerous. Shouldn’t a lot of the responsibility for the consequences of these situations be with the runner?