Monday, November 16, 2009


In the previous post, I wondered how a cop could justify shooting thousands of volts of electricity into a handcuffed man. Law enforcement has always told us that Tasers are an alternative to lethal force, but the man in the video is just standing there with his hands shackled behind his back.

Is this the purpose of these things? Forcing people into submission so cops simply don't have to bother with the hands-on work of policing? I thought it was to avoid having to use a firearm in a life-or-death situation. Are we to believe that if the cops didn't have tasers, they would have shot this handcuffed suspect to death in that situation?
Well, it seems that my question was based on a faulty assumption. It turns out that "forcing people into submission" is precisely the point of arming cops with Tasers.

Officer Peters isn't second guessing the actions of the Lansing police officer who fired the taser or his two-week suspension by the Lansing police chief. But he says just because an individual is in handcuffs, doesn't mean the taser shouldn't be utilized.

"You are using the taser to gain and maintain control," says Officer Peters. "If they still pose a threat to themselves and others, the use of the taser could still be appropriate."
Of course, based on the video it is not clear that the man is a threat to anybody. He is, after all, simply standing there with his hands shackled behind his back.

But as Digby points out, this is America, and you don't second-guess the authorities in America.