Officer Shoots Innocent Customer With Taser Gun
- Officer Shoots Innocent CustomerWith Taser GunMSNBC News
Officer uses Taser to tame Best Buy customer
Sides split on what happened; review beginsupdated 2:38 p.m. PT, Fri., Dec. 21, 2007
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A review is under way in the case of a Florida police officer who used a stun gun on a woman who had yelled at her.
Last month's incident began as Elizabeth Beeland, 35, tried to buy a CD player at an electronics store, and stepped outside to talk on her phone, leaving her credit card behind. A store clerk became suspicious, and suspected Beeland was using a stolen card. When police officer Claudia Wright approached, she said Beeland became "verbally profane" and "abusive."
Wright said she warned Beeland to calm down or face arrest. The officer hit Beeland in the stomach with the Taser darts and arrested her on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.In a video, the customer is seen backing away, then crumpling to the ground after being tasered.
Police later verified that Beeland was using her own credit card, but she was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting a police officer without violence. She has since pleaded not guilty.
Two sides to story, video
Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood defended the officer's actions, which he said avoided use of other weapons.
"Even if you look at the video, when the officer stepped toward her after announcing she's under arrest, she's flailing her arms and retreating from the officer," Chitwood said. "Police work isn't pretty. It doesn't look pretty, but from where we sit, interviewing civilian witnesses and people may or may not agree, but she followed our policy, she followed FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) guidelines."
Cop Watch's George Crosley sees the incident in a different way. His group polices police actions. He said he is stunned by the store surveillance video.
"This is wrong, this shouldn't have happened that way," Crosley said. "When the officer starts toward her, you don't see her threatening the officer, you see her backing off with her hands up," he said. "If she couldn't figure out how to handle it, she should have called for back up. The truth of the matter is, people have died as a result of being tased."
State prosecutors are reviewing whether to pursue the case against Beeland. Beeland's attorney is also reviewing the incident.
Comments by Ron Branson
It should be noted the key factor here, as in any situation, is Probable Cause for the original action of the commission of a crime. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard of people being arrested for resisting arrest. This presents the chicken or the egg syndrome when it comes to what came first.
Had the lady above committed, or was she in the commission of a crime? This is the first question that must be dealt with. The argument above is that the woman became verbally abusive. So now we come to the question as to whether there was any external action which precipitated why the woman became verbally abusive, if indeed verbal abuse is a crime. (Verbal abuse is not a crime, but the argument is that she exhibited disorderly conduct.)
Anyone can approach a stranger and provoke them to verbal abuse, and especially so when that person is wearing a uniform and badge asking probing questions. One my seek to justify the actions of the officer by saying, "Officers have a right to ask probing questions!" But then we return to the question of Probable Cause for provoking a person to "verbally abuse," and thus exhibiting "disorderly conduct."
Let's suppose there were no police officer here. Independent of that fact, is there, or was there a crime committed? Absolutely not! No one was damaged, injured or defrauded, nor was there disorderly conduct. The supposed "crime" was only precipitated by the actions of the police officer acting absent Probable Cause pursuant to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Now we add in a taser gun. We are told "Police Chief Mike Chitwood defended the officer's actions, which he said avoided use of other weapons." What? A taser gun was appropriate in order to avoid us of other weapons? But then again I ask, what was the crime committed that called for the use of weapons, lethal or non-lethal?
Try and experiment. Approach a strange lady in a crowded mall and tell her you want to search her purse. I guarantee you that she is likely to respond with some unpleasant words. Does her unpleasant words provide grounds for use of a weapon? "Gee, she must be hiding something in her purse that I might find incriminating to justify my actions," I say. Thus, everyone is guilty of whatever they might be suspected of them until they prove themselves innocent. This violates the very concept of American principles, guilty until proven innocent.
On the TV news just two days ago was a police chase. When they finally caught the man, he was charged with fleeing the police. I immediately asked myself what was the Probable Cause that precipitate the police chasing the man.
Whenever police shoot and kill a person, they generally claim they "feared for their lives." This is a standard police buzz word every police officer in the country knows and practices. So I turn this around and ask, is it possible that one may fear the police because of a former police action, and rather than shooting, they merely flee the presence of the police? If fear is a justified reason for shooting a person, then how about fear justifying fleeing?
In armed guard training classes often films are shown that allows the trainee to interplay with given situations. In one of these training films I saw, a report came in of suspicious behavior by a man down by the railroad tracks. The trainee responds to the call, and finds a young man approaching him from across the tracks. You issued an order to freeze. The young man continues to approach you. You draw you gun and re-issue your command.
The young man approaching you now reaches into his back pocket. You are called upon to decide whether protective sleeve identifying himself as a legal deaf-mute and cannot hear anything. If you chose to shoot, you killed an innocent 17 year old deaf-mute seeking to tell you that he suffered total hearing loss and could not hear you.
A social worker was placed into this training course, and every person she shot and killed was totally innocent, but she killed everyone of them out of fear.- Ron Branson