Tuesday, November 20, 2007

LiveLeak Video: Man Tased By Utah Highway Patrolman Near Vernal For Refusing To Sign Speeding Ticket

A confrontation between a Utah Highway Patrolman and a motorist which took place on U.S. Highway 40 near Vernal in northeast Utah back in September 2007 has attracted media attention, particularly since it is accompanied by home video obtained by the citizen and posted on YouTube and LiveLeak. Full story on KSL Channel 5 in Salt Lake.

Jared Massey was driving along with his wife and toddler when he was pulled over for speeding. In the video, you can see that Massey is getting frustrated as the officer, identified by KUTV Channel 2 as John Gardner, refuses to tell him how fast he was going. Here's the crux of the exchange:

The trooper said, "Well, you're going to sign this first."

Massey replies, "No, I'm now. I'm not signing anything officer."

And the trooper says, "OK, hop out of the car." He then attempts to place Massey under arrest. "Turn around, put your hands behind your back."

You can see in the video that Massey ignores the command and proceeds to walk toward the car. The fact that he was walking rather than running implies that he wasn't trying to escape or evade. Yet the officer tasers him anyway.

According to Massey: "I'm laying there on the ground, and I start coming to and I hear him yelling at me another command, and before I can process it, he's telling me to roll over, he hits me with the Taser again."

Let's go to the video:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=fae_1195587967



In case the LiveLeak version goes bad, here's a link to the YouTube version:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=IMaMYL_shxc

Later, Massey spoke to KSL Newsradio. "I gashed my head open and had cuts and bruises on my back, and they had to take me to the hospital."

The man has filed a complaint and is threatening to sue the Utah Highway Patrol for being wrongfully tasered. He got his hands on the trooper's dash-cam video and posted it all over the Internet.

In Utah, if you refuse to sign a citation, troopers can give you another citation or, in some cases, they can place you under arrest. That's what happened in this instance.

Meanwhile, the Utah Department of Public Safety is trying to answer some questions of its own. Sgt. Jeff Nigbur said, "I do not know what that particular trooper was thinking about, what he was concerned about, whether he felt his life was in danger, whether he was worried about the driver's life so close to traffic. I don't know." The investigation should be complete sometime next week.

Commentary: This story has already attracted 344 comments on KSL. Most recognize that both parties contributed to the problem.

First, when a cop tells you you're under arrest, you don't walk away from him. You comply with his instructions. Period.

But the cop lost control of the situation. He should have given a more detailed explanation of the infraction to the driver. If I broke the law, I have the right to know PRECISELY how I broke the law. The law enforcement obsession with secrecy is becoming totalitarian. It's time for cops to drop the "homeland security" mentality and start acting like ordinary cops again.

So what should happen to the cop? Unless he has a past record of abusing his authority, he should be suspended, probably for no more than a week unpaid. He shouldn't be fired.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have mixed emotions about this. The police officer could have taken a different approach -- tell the guy how fast he was going and explain that signing the ticket was not an admission of guilt -- and perhaps would have avoided the need to taser the guy. Normally I would probably side with the officer (I have two brothers-in-laws who are state police back east), but this officer seemed to have the need to exert his authority.

Deseret Dawg said...

Agreed. My experience with cops is if you're straight with them, they're generally straight with you. I'm talking about local and state cops. I think this one was just a bit over-amped.

Anonymous said...

You can write officer John Gardner at:
jgardner@ubtanet.com

or call him at:

435-722-5164

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