Overkill

     On Monday night a 17-year old kid ran onto the field during a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game at Citizens Bank Park, and was Tasered by a police officer. The actions of the police officer have drawn criticism, as well they should.
     MSNBC columnist Mike Celizic thinks the police officer acted appropriately. I like Celizic and usually agree with him, but he’s dead wrong.
     He’s wrong because this incident is more than one jackass running on a playing field (who, by the way, was closer to several security guards and police officers than he ever got to a player). Celizic is wrong because this incident is indicative of a seemingly pervasive belief among law enforcement that the Taser is always the best and thus preferable way to subdue a suspect, common sense notwithstanding.
     A quick Google search reveals absurd uses of a Taser. Two cops used a Taser on a 10-year old child in Indiana, another cop used a Taser on a 10-year old girl in Arkansas, a college student was Tasered while being removed from, irony alert, a Constitution Day forum at the University of Florida (the famous ““don’t taze me bro” incident). Just Google the term “Taser abuse” and take your pick from the 455,000 results.
     Worse still is the fact that the use of a Taser can and has caused death. According to Amnesty International, 334 people were killed by Tasers in the U.S. alone between 2001 and 2009. Although Taser Inc., which manufacturers the stun guns, has a history of successfully having product liability suits against it dismissed, it has been hit with at least one judgment, worth $6.2 million.
     I don’t think the use of a Taser in and of itself is wrong. Certainly, a Taser is preferable to a handgun when trying to subdue a suspect. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that a Taser is preferable to any other method of suspect control.
     If a cop can’t handle a 10-year old, what the hell is that cop even doing in uniform? Why was the Florida student Tasered? Because the cop who fired the weapon didn’t want to help the other two officers already struggling with the guy? Why was that kid at Citizens Bank Park Tasered? Because the cop who did it could stand to lose a few pounds and didn’t want to have to break a sweat to do his job? It’s not like that kid was going to get away.
     Certainly Tasers have become so ubiquitous in law enforcement circles that they are not going to go away, and certainly Tasers are necessary from time to time.
     It would just be refreshing to see a police officer exercise a little common sense before shooting someone with 1,200 volts of .02-.04 amps at 19 pulses per second.
     People die from that.

%d bloggers like this: