Saturday, May 22, 2010

don't use the Force blue

This has really gotten out of control. Here's video of Marquis Daniel's step-father tased at Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals in Orlando. Apparently this man, Willie Buie, had been arguing with fans who didn't take kindly to his support for his step-son's team. He had been escorted out of his seat before because he had argued with them. Apparently he told a reporter who called his home that his rights were those which had been abused and that police responded with excessive force. Even if he had gotten into a disagreement, it's ridiculous that a taser is required to be used. Cops should be better at actually resolving conflicts rather than having to always use force. That confrontation could have been dissipated if cops could actually resolve differences.

One blogger, Digby, has been documenting the violence and deaths caused by tasers for several years. Some of the posts, such as this one about a man named Jarred Massey seems to have been tased for no good reason, are really disturbing. Officer Jon Gardner tells him to get out of the car and Massey does so. Massey then points out to Gardner the speed limit and again asks what he (Massey) has done wrong. He asks Gardner what is wrong with him (Gardner), and having turned around as the officer had asked him to, he's shot up with 50,000 volts. Later on in the video, Gardner is caught lying to an associate about having warned the man that he would be tased. Massey won a $40,000 settlement against the state of Utah after filing suit but really, why should things need to get to that point? If the officer could simply have explained to the man why he was stopping him, or, finding insufficient evidence, letting him go, there would have been no need for such violence. There's this one wherein a plaintiff IN COURT, upon claiming that what a judge has said is "bullshit", is subdued by five cops. The judge orders the man taken into custody and then, being held by five cops, he's tasered. Yes, perhaps he should be charged with contempt of court, but when five cops have you under control, there's no need to use a taser.

There's the horrific case of Robert Dziekanski, a man who had just emigrated to Canada from Poland. He had just arrived at the Vancouver airport and had picked up office chairs and put them in front of the security doors. He had also thrown a computer to the ground. However, when he is approached by police, they ask him to stand against a wall and he does so, without resisting. However, at that point, they tase him. He moans and writhes for about 90 seconds and then stops moving. The video ends shortly thereafter and emergency services were unable to bring him back to life. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police recently apologized to his mother and she was granted financial compensation for her son's death, but I'm sure whatever the amount of money was, his mother would gladly return every penny in return for her son.

These sorts of deaths should not happen. That more people do not find the incidents such as those I have highlighted above, and myriad others, worrying, is what is most worrying to me. The widespread use of tasers is a symptom of a failure to appropriately rein in excessive police power.

Update: fixed link to Marquis Daniels' player profile and re-phrased how William Buie interacted with Orlando fans. Re-stated the sequence of events prior to Dziekanski's death.

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