Liberty: September 2007 Archives

As we know, police at UFL tasered a nonviolent student who was trying to walk away.

I give you Florida state law:

776.05 Law enforcement officers; use of force in making an arrest.

--A law enforcement officer, or any person whom the officer has summoned or directed to assist him or her, need not retreat or desist from efforts to make a lawful arrest because of resistance or threatened resistance to the arrest. The officer is justified in the use of any force:

(1) Which he or she reasonably believes to be necessary to defend himself or herself or another from bodily harm while making the arrest;

(2) When necessarily committed in retaking felons who have escaped; or

(3) When necessarily committed in arresting felons fleeing from justice. However, this subsection shall not constitute a defense in any civil action for damages brought for the wrongful use of deadly force unless the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent the arrest from being defeated by such flight and, when feasible, some warning had been given, and:

(a) The officer reasonably believes that the fleeing felon poses a threat of death or serious physical harm to the officer or others; or

(b) The officer reasonably believes that the fleeing felon has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm to another person.

I've bolded the most relevant portion. Here's what we need to know:

(1) Police are only acting legally in the use of force if an exemption is permitted by this statute;
(2) The police had no reason to believe that a handcuffed student, on the ground, with 6 police and 1 student, represented any threat whatsoever to them or anyone.

Consequently, those police are not justified in the use of the taser.

If the police declared they intended to arrest him, then they were justified in physically restraining him to cuff him. Once he was cuffed, and outnumbering him 6:1, there is no possible justification for the use of force. So to my reading, the officer using the taser was committing battery, and each other officer holding him down was an accessory to the crime.

The State attorney should immediately file charges against them. The tape alone is sufficient evidence to merit a trial.

A student was tasered by police at a Kerry event.

He was given time for a question in Q&A. He began with an introduction talking about how a bunch of reports had said Kerry won the 2004 election, leading to a question as to why Kerry did not contest the 2004 vote. I think that's a fair question. He grew slightly more agitated as people almost immediately tried to push him off the mic.

He finished his (three) questions, as he tacked two more on rapidly at the end, taking up about 90 seconds total.

The police began to escort him out. That's inappropriate, but neverminding that...

His minor attempt to resist police ended with him down on the ground, screaming that he was being arrested for nothing. I largely tend to agree. Is he fringe? Maybe. But I don't want to judge the question. He was passionate, he was polite - he was not vulgar, he did wrap up fairly fast when asked to do so.

In any event, he's on the ground, and clearly a cop had out a taser and he was begging to not be tasered. "Don't tase me, man, I haven't done anything," he pleads. Then you hear the 'tic tic tic' sound of the taser going off, and he screams.

Amnesty International reports there have been 245 taser-related deaths since 2001. The taser is a lethal weapon, and should be used when a danger exists to the police, in lieu of using a firearm.

This leads me to ask - at what point, when the police are being unjustifiably violent, does it become legal and moral to resist them? Because watching this video, my first instinct is to tackle the cop with the taser. What would they have done if that cop had pulled out a gun and shot the kid in the leg? Would it be justifiable to tackle the cop then?

In any event, we clearly need laws against the spurious use of tasers, and we also clearly need to ensure that police are prosecuted themselves under the law when they use excessive force. I am once again inclined to pursue a law degree so I can start suing people. It seems like passing the bar is probably the best way that someone can take action against the advance of a tyrannical state.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Liberty category from September 2007.

Liberty: November 2006 is the previous archive.

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