why are you tasing me, I’m on the ground?

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68 Responses

  1. DavidTC says:

    Odo: You’d tase a man on the ground?
    Garak: Well,? it’s the safest way, isn’t it?Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    This is unsustainable.Report

    • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

      I hope you are correct, but see no sign that, even with a vast increase in public scrutiny since last August 9, cop behavior is changing.Report

      • zic in reply to Chris says:

        I think it may be escalating, particularly at events that are anti-cop demonstrations of any sort. Why? Because it discourages people from participating in the anti-cop protests, you could get hurt out there. But we’ll see.Report

    • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

      Slavery, to pick a really big example, was pretty darn sustainable. I took a war, in the US, to end it. And then the worst elements did pretty good job of pushing blacks back down again. It took a lot just to slowly get rid of jim crow.

      Point is, lots of terrible things are very sustainable.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        You know how you are saying that slavery was so sustainable that it took a war to stop it?

        How’s this?

        “This is so sustainable that it looks like it might take a war to stop it.”

        It’s another way to phrase the same point.Report

        • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

          If it takes a war to stop something, then it is really sustainable. I mean long term sustainable. Changing social institutions is really hard, grueling long term work.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

            If it takes a war to stop something, then it is really sustainable.

            If the something in question inspires a war to stop it, I could see how some might conclude that its sustainability would have to be in doubt.Report

        • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

          I suppose the question, with respect to sustainability, is whether it will inevitably lead to war. Slavery arguably did. Will cop violence? I’m still not sure there’s a sufficiently large minority of the American population who thinks cops are in the wrong.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

            From here, it seems that things are on the wrong track and speeding up rather than slowing down.

            The minority is not sufficiently large today, but it will be a larger minority tomorrow.

            When things start slowing down to the point where they’re getting worse asymptotically (or even start getting *LESS* worse), I’ll revise.Report

          • Michael Cain in reply to Chris says:

            Slavery that was legal in one part of the country, but not in other parts, led to war. Are there instances where war was declared and a separate country was invaded over slavery? As the primary issue, not a secondary matter? As a generic matter, not a “you’ve been raiding our country for slaves for decades” sort of thing.Report

            • Chris in reply to Michael Cain says:

              Didn’t the British attack some Portuguese settlements on the western coast of Africa a few times in the early-to-mid 19th century to enforce the slave trade ban? That’s the closest I can think of.Report

      • Damon in reply to greginak says:

        Slavery was moving out of fashion before the american civil war. IIRC, the brits had already outlawed it. And a lot of other countries.

        Let’s also remember that it’s STILL being practiced today….in the middle east…in africa…and in asia i think.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

      I am going to sign on with Chris and Zic.

      We seem to be in an age where lots of things are unsustainable. The War on Drugs is unsustainable, Constantly increasing tuition is unsustainable. Police Brutality is unsustainable.

      Yet they continue and as Zic says seem to escalate. I often wonder how bad things need to get before they get better.

      The question also is how many people care about police brutality? Maybe people see the numbers as acceptable in a nation of 320 million. Why is it that a small minority can win for gun rights and abortion but not for police brutality?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Both sides of the tracks want abortions. Both sides of the tracks want gun rights.

        Police brutality tends to only affect one side of the tracks.

        (As for the War on Drugs, maybe it’s just because I live in Colorado, but it seems like it’s ramping *DOWN* from here. And my suspicion is that it’s because the War on Drugs used to only affect one side of the tracks. As soon as it started to affect both? Wouldn’t you know it, we got MMJ. When that wasn’t enough to send a message to enthusiastic law enforcement officers, Recreational.)Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I know not everyone here is a fan of Coyote Blog, but here he makes a salient point, as is this Popehat post. Law enforcement has vast & sweeping powers, and considerable protection against suffering for the misuse of that power. A minority of activists lobbying for police accountability, should they gain enough traction to threaten the power of the police, may find their lives damaged or destroyed.

        I think part of the reason you see this protests mostly by the less well off is that they are the people with the least to lose, so police can’t destroy them too much. For us non-lawyer types, a targeted police investigation against us, even if exonerated, would damage reputations & bankrupt us, with little hope of recompense because of immunity. As much as I abhor police abuse & violence, I have to balance that against the potential for the police to destroy not only my future, but my wife’s & son’s as well.

        A change in police accountability will require a true groundswell, such that the police can not target an individual for retribution & hope to effectively shut down the movement.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


          Years ago I read about how much damage Sheriff Joe has done to his county. Their insurance is through the roof because of lawsuits against his department and prosecutors frequently had to drop charges because of misconduct by his team. One famous case involved them soliciting sex workers at a massage parlor, having a good a time, and arresting said sex workers.

          Either people don’t care about this stuff or they are somehow impervious and oblivious to people jumping up and down and shouting it from the street corners. Maybe we just have a lot of really scarred people out there who think that it is Mad Max out there and Dirty Harry type cops are the only thing protecting them from certain death.Report

          • zic in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            From the considerable amounts of time I’ve spent there, most people who have $$$ don’t feel his a threat to them, personally, and grateful that he keeps those who they think do threaten them (members of tribes and illegals) under his thumb.


          • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            There is a brand of American leftist thought that criticizes suburbs as a sign of white fear of people of color.Report

            • greginak in reply to LeeEsq says:

              Meh. Lots of criticisms of suburbs are shallow. Plenty of people also think suburbs are the living embodiment of Raymond Carver stories. White flight was a real thing, that is for sure. But there is more to the suburbs than that. Especially since there have been multi cultural suburbs for a long time.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to greginak says:

                True. Suburbs are hardly homogenous. Mill Valley, Atherton, and Walnut Creek are all suburbs of San Francisco and all very different.

                Suburbs in the North of New York seem to be undergoing a mini-Hipsterfication as the arm-sleeve tattoo set moves out of Brooklyn but doesn’t want to give up the craft-beer brewery or Farm to Table scene.Report

              • zic in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Totally off topic but: total saul bait @saul-degrawReport

    • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

      What evidence do you have for that? Millions of Americans are still very law and order, support our troops and cops types in their beliefs. If the target of police brutality are from groups they do not like than so much the better.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

        See it more as an intuition.

        I rather expect to see things getting even more tense and a few more cities experiencing riots this summer followed by something that might be called a “standoff” at the time but it won’t resolve itself in such a way that it will be called that in retrospect.

        I’d love to be wrong, of course…

        But things seem to be getting worse and not better and they seem to be accelerating rather than decelerating.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

          I can definitely see this. What I can’t see is any sort of positive police reform that lowers police power. Most people were probably confused but what you meant when you said that the current situation is not sustainable. We thought you meant that police reform for the better is going to come along sooner than latter. Things exploding would be a definite possibility though.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

      Perhaps not sustainable in the long term, but it’s entirely possible that there will be a period of increased us-vs-them on the part of the police, with higher levels of excessive force, before things resolve…Report

  3. Doctor Jay says:

    These events make it seem as though the St. Louis PD, as a matter of policy, will use tasers in preference to laying hands on someone they have ordered to stop.

    Police have the authority to order anyone to stop. We have given them that authority. That’s kind of what being police means.

    If you need to control someone physically, what works best is to physically convey to them that it could be worse for them if they don’t comply physically, and yet not overload their senses so much that they freak out, and are unable to comply. This requires a great deal of composure and empathy. Police officers may or may not be trained for this.

    But with the militarization of police forces, they are probably not trained for this. They are trained to go to maximum force at a moments notice, with no empathy involved.

    Thus the tasers, I think. Tasers have an upper bound. The power involved is limited by the device, to a level that is painful, but does not normally result in injury. Laying hands on someone, by an officer who is trained to go to maximum force, probably will result in injury, and so they use tasers.Report

    • j r in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      Police have the authority to order anyone to stop. We have given them that authority. That’s kind of what being police means.

      Is this true?

      Police have the authority to detain you for cause, but it is unclear to me that being police legally gives someone with a badge the authority to order random individuals to comply with instructions without cause.

      Seems more like cops have a limited set of authorities that they will find a way to retroactively enforce on people who choose not to comply with initial commands that they have no real authority to enforce.Report

      • Chris in reply to j r says:

        I believe the standard is that people must comply with any “lawful order” given by a police officer, which is vague enough that it is much, much, much more likely to bite a non-cop in the ass for not obeying an order than it is to bite a cop in the ass for beating someone for not obeying an order.Report

      • Doctor Jay in reply to j r says:

        As @chris says, it must be “for cause”, but keeping the street open definitely counts as “cause”, and stopping someone who has violated both ordinances and ignored police orders is also definitely “cause”.Report

        • Chris in reply to Doctor Jay says:

          Right, in protests, the general causes for arrest are: unlawful assembly, trespassing, public disturbance (usually blocking traffic), curfew violation, and the Orwellian resisting arrest.

          The unlawful assembling one is the most slippery, because an assembly can go from lawful to unlawful as soon as the cops want it to. This was a big issue in Ferguson, where the rules would shift from requiring protesters to stay in a certain area to requiring that they stay in one spot no longer than 5 seconds and then back again.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to j r says:

        Police have the authority to detain you for cause, but it is unclear to me that being police legally gives someone with a badge the authority to order random individuals to comply with instructions without cause.

        As I say every time this comes up, the police are *supposed* to enforce the peace, and, *as part of doing so*, should be able to give orders. Aka, if they come across two people yelling at each other in the street, about to come to blows, they should be able to order the two people apart from each other. ‘You go over there, and you go over there’.

        Basically, the police should be giving people orders *In lieu of* arresting them. Not ‘allowed to’…*should*. If the police can stop lower-levels of lawbreaking by just politely asking, they *should* do that, instead of arrest.

        Especially if it’s a violation that caused no harm to anyone, the ‘public nuisance laws’. When those sorts of laws were passed, no one *actually* thought people who wandered around publicly drunk should be ‘punished’ in court and sent to jail for a week. No one *actually* thinks people who wander into the street should be arrested or even generally fined!

        Those laws exist so that the police can send those people home. Or make them get out of the street. Or whatever. That is the point of those laws. They are not supposed to actually be ‘crimes’, they are supposed to be ‘things the police can meddle in’.

        And it’s *exactly* these sort of laws that protesters get arrested for. Why? Because people break these ‘laws’ all the time.

        The police do not exist to prosecute crime, they exist to *keep the peace*. They should, politely, walk along the protesters and make sure the protesters stay within the law, and if the protesters step outside the law, politely guide them back inside it. If the protesters deliberately keep breaking the law, sure, arrest them, but the entire goal should be *no arrests*. That is how that is supposed to work.

        This in no way resembles how cops behave anymore. We have given cops latitude and they have been abusing it for decades.

        Seems more like cops have a limited set of authorities that they will find a way to retroactively enforce on people who choose not to comply with initial commands that they have no real authority to enforce.

        Yes. If cops can always invent some crime you’re committing (Like, apparently, in this example, walking down a street closed to traffic), then they can *always* give you orders. And then, when you don’t follow these orders perfectly, they’re allowed to attack, apparently.

        So there are several levels of stupid here:
        1) The police think people wandering across a road that is closed to traffic *for people to walk across* is a crime, and needs to be dealt with. (While apparently letting all the non-protesters walk in it…that sounds like a civil rights violation to me.)
        2) They think it’s such a large crime that even after people have stopped doing this, they need to be chased down.
        3) They think the correct way to respond to that crime, which is a max $50 fine, is to *arrest* people, instead of just ticketing them.
        4) They think the correct way to arrest people is to tase them.Report

        • Doctor Jay in reply to DavidTC says:

          You are highlighting a very interesting point that I don’t feel I have enough facts to understand. The road had been closed off for the sake of baseball fans, but it was 11:30. Had the road been re-opened? Were the police attempting to re-open it, after the game was over? Why did the protesters go into the road at this time, and not before? Why was their presence in the road a problem for police? Did they have a designated area? Were they going home, trying to be more visible, or trying to provoke the police?Report

          • DavidTC in reply to Doctor Jay says:

            I don’t know. Watching the video, it seems clear that there are no actual cars driving down the part of the street that’s visible in the video. There are cars parked there, but none of them are moving or have their headlights on. There is a moving car *right at* the very start of the video that we see the end of, but that is quite likely a police car, because we see another parked a second later where it comes form, along with another parked a side street.

            Cop cars parked in the street probably means no traffic allowed down street.

            Later, it seems there *might* be a line of cars further down the street, but whatever they’re doing, they’re not coming in the direction of the people. Presumably they’ve being directed to turn, or maybe those are just street lights.

            Whether that is even the street being talked about I have no idea, and I also have no idea if there are no cars traveling down it because it’s closed, or just because it’s 11 at night and there’s no traffic.

            Of course, that raises the question: How do you impede the flow of traffic without any traffic?

            I’ve just spent ten minutes looking for the actual regulation, and can’t find it.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

          BTW It isn’t just the police that can be dicks about things…Report

          • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            I keep hearing about that story, and that is completely insane.

            Shouting one time is not disturbing the peace.

            Disturbing the peace is almost always restricted to public fighting and taunting, loud music, and public profanity, but, more to the point, disturbing the peace almost always requires the police asking you to stop and you *refusing to do so*.

            ‘Disturbing the peace’ is already a vague enough law that various places have held versions of it unconstitutional for both first amendment and due process reasons.

            Thus, ‘people must be told to stop’ is a vital part of it, because otherwise you might not even *realize* you’re doing it, the law is so vague.

            But, as I said, almost all public nuisance laws are intended to work like this, not as actual *crimes*, but as things the police can tell you not to do.

            If the police are going to actually start charging people with these crimes, it’s time we both dismantle and replace the police, as they have clearly gone mad with power, and consider replacing these laws with something else.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

              I know. The only thing the police should have done is told the civilian who filed the complaint that they are not going to waste their time issuing summons over the lowest of the low misdemeanors, especially when the police were not present at the time.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Additionally, there’s an interesting public/private discussion there.

                If this was consider a public event run by the government, than shouting things has first amendment protections…if they’re disruptive, they can ask you to leave, but can’t actually charge you for saying things.

                But most graduations are not actually public events (people need an invite), so now there’s another problem: To be disturbing the peace, you have to disturb people *in public*. People shouting at a sporting event, for example, are not disturbing the peace. A DJ in a nightclub is not disturbing the peace inside the club with his amplified music and voice.

                Perhaps most importantly, people shouting and applauding at the *end* of the graduation, when they were ‘supposed to’, were not charged.

                Why not? They were making as much or more noise. They were equally disturbing the ‘peace’. They might have been ‘given permission’, but last I check the school administrator can’t grant people immunity from a law.

                Hell, the administrator was up there with his amplified equipment…wasn’t *he* disturbing the peace?

                School administrators make *rules*, not laws, and have the right to have people that break those rules *removed* from campus. They do not have any power to make *laws*, to have people charged with crimes, or to make behaviors on the campus *legal* at one time and *illegal* at other times.

                What do you want to bet this is one of those schools that has police officers roaming the halls and uses them to enforce the school rules?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

                Good points. I suspect that if contested, they’ll all get tossed, but the people who got them will either have to do a fair bit of research to get the law right, or hire a lawyer.

                Unless the bad PR this is getting will inspire the DA’s office to dismiss them all.

                That said, the larger issue remains, that it is easy for the police, and people friendly with the police, to use the law as a cudgel against others, and the judiciary is generally unwilling to really send a message that this will not be tolerated.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      If a cop wants to be a jerk, or if they are amped up & not thinking clearly, they can give clearly conflicting commands, which people who are also amped up & not thinking clearly, find difficult to obey. This instantly grants the police the authority to enforce compliance.Report

      • Doctor Jay in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        That definitely can happen. Do you feel that it happened here?Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Doctor Jay says:


          Not sure, not enough information. I saw one flash where the cop ordered a person to stop while he was pointing the taser & rushing toward him & in the next instant he had tased the guy. It’s a classic feint move, rush at a person while ordering them to stop, and when they do the very natural thing of trying to open up the distance between the person running at them, claim they were attempting to flee & drop them.Report

  4. Oscar Gordon says:

    I’m waiting for people to start making & wearing these (or marketing & selling) to protests, riots, or any other place/event where the police may get eager to try & light someone up.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      That looks like a great idea, until they start yelling “He’s not going down! He must be on PCP!” and pull their guns and shoot your ass instead.Report

    • zic in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Will this really work? A mesh might; so long as it was grounded, rather like the cages they use in the van de graaffe generator at the Boston Museum of Science.

      But carbon tape is conductive, according to this website.Report

      • Glyph in reply to zic says:

        Even if it works, it’s a bad idea.

        As bad as it is to go down when they zap you, NOT going down will likely turn out far worse for you.Report

        • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

          Right, they’re trained to escalate if a particular technique doesn’t work. So if the taser doesn’t work they might move on to batons… if you’re lucky.Report

          • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

            I *guess* if you are a good actor and quick thinker, you could *maybe* fake the effects of being tased – at least this would save you the actual pain and the soiling yourself.

            But god help you if they realize the taser didn’t work on you, because at that point a beating is your best-case scenario.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Glyph says:

          Depends, are you getting tased because Officer Zappy gets his rocks of tasing people who don’t comply with his conflicting commands, or because you are actively resisting arrest?

          In the former, you now have time to become non-threatening & compliant without pain & soiling yourself. If the latter, you are going to get a beating anyway unless you can run away very fast.Report

          • Glyph in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            Maybe I am just a pessimist, but I think the instant it becomes apparent that you were not affected by the taser as expected, the cop will panic and go straight to Defcon 1.

            Why he initially tased you will be irrelevant; you are a “threat” now. You probably are on Angel Dust or Bath Salts or something. Beatdown now and ask questions later, if ever.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Glyph says:

              I heard that the guy who was wearing taser protection was looking into joining ISIS and that he said online that he wanted to behead somebody.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Glyph says:

              That assumes the cop recognizes that his taser isn’t working before a person can become compliant. I’ve seen videos of people getting tased who can maintain enough control to lower themselves to the ground, so it’s not an unexpected response.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to zic says:

        Electricity follows the path of least resistance. Compared to something like carbon tape, us humans are massive resistors.Report

  5. LeeEsq says:

    So much for freedoms of assembly and freedom of speech. In America you can protest anybody who want except for the police.Report

  6. Will H. says:

    Busch Stadium is in the City of St. Louis, not St. Louis County. The City isn’t in any county at all.
    Last I knew, the St. Louis PD were under the supervision of the Eastern District of Missouri. They have been for a long time.Report

  7. Francis says:

    The police shootings issue reminds me too much of the bankster issues of 2007 and thereafter. What’s really shocking is just how much is perfectly legal and even accepted. Codes of conduct that restrained the worst (but lawful) behaviors have gone by the wayside.

    And on that note, from my hometown, I offer the following link:

    ETA: didn’t work. google long beach police shooting.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Francis says:

      There was an interesting article in the NY Times last week about how bank reform and regulation is so hard because modern society can’t function without banks and the bankers know this. So they are always going to be given an inch and take a mile.

      The same can be said about police. Only a small-band of dedicated anarchists would get rid of the police and think we can function without them, Most other people would say we need some level of law enforcement presence.Report

  8. Joe Sal says:

    The prescribed APA shock/taser treatment being applied for oppositional defiant disorder.Report