Time again for our semi-regular look at law enforcement’s current go-to gadget: the Taser.
We’ve got a mini-phenomenon here — videos of folks getting Tasered and re-Tasered by cops are all over YouTube. Almost all follow a pattern: one person (or persons) is disturbing the peace somehow (how exactly is often controversial in itself — in one semi-famous incident, the “offense” was not wearing clothes), police are called, and the person resists arrest. There might be two cops on the scene; there might be three; there might even be five or six, in which case there is clearly no threat of escape, no threat of the suspect overpowering the officers.
But sometimes they just can’t get the guy on his stomach quickly enough, so they pull out the Taser gun. You hear the rest — screaming in agony. Tasering, clearly, hurts like nothing else. And a lot of people (whom big burly cops should be able to handle without bursts of electricity) get hit.
There have been several documented cases of Taser deaths, the most recent being a meth user in northern California who died after a struggle with police last week. Earlier this month, a 17 year old in Pensacola, Florida, was riding a bike when police shot a Taser at him; he swerved to avoid it, got himself run over by a cruiser, and died. You follow this shit and you see more and more Taser-related fatalities popping up.
This week, we got another major-college athlete zapped with a Taser. Terrence Jennings, a 6-10 forward for the University of Louisville basketball team, apparently resisted police when they tried to cuff him after a scuffle with some folks at a southern Indiana restaurant during a homecoming party. (Homecoming weekend is always a high-arrest period.) Jennings was apparently unaware that the party was being worked by a bunch of off-duty cops, who were identified by T-shirts that read POLICE on the front and back. When these good officers observed Jennings “pushing and shoving” some people, they took him outside and put him on the ground.
Jennings, however, wouldn’t flip over to be cuffed. There is some confusion over whether he knew the people on him were police. In any case, the officers zapped him. Then they zapped him again.
Once Cardinals captain Jerry Smith — who was at the party — saw Jennings in cuffs, he approached the officers and was also arrested, although he wasn’t Tasered. Police asked prosecutors to charge both men with resisting arrest, battery, and disorderly conduct. Interestingly, prosecutors only ended up filing a single resisting charge for each. And Louisville has decided not to suspend either player, since, well, they’re good. “Any time you defy a police officer, it’s serious,” coach Rick Pitino said. “They will be punished and are being punished right now. But no, they will not miss game time.”
Some athlete is going to get killed sometime soon. I’m not saying these two players didn’t get rowdy in this bar, but . . . damn. Zero points on this one until it’s adjudicated.
You hear about some weird crimes in the South, stuff you would never have thought was illegal. You know, like “entering a Waffle House in a DUKAKIS ’88 shirt” — that sort of thing. But this one is a little off, even for Dixie.