Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Utah Highway Patrolman John Gardner Targeted With Threats On YouTube; Jared Massey Wants Online Threats To Stop

Thousands of people angry over a video showing a Utah Highway Patrol trooper using a Taser on a man stopped for speeding have vented on the Internet. But some are writing about more than just calling the UHP to complain, or debating the merits of a traffic stop. Full story published November 27th, 2007 by the Deseret Morning News, and aired by KUTV Channel 2, KSL Channel 5 and KTVX Channel 4.

Here's a sampling of the threats posted:

"OMG this cop needs to be killed," one person wrote on the Internet site YouTube, where the traffic stop video was first posted.

"I'm seriously going to kill this cop!!! I'm going to utah," wrote another.

"Someone please gut this officer," another posted. "Let him bleed out on the side of the road."


And some of those online comments have prompted the Utah Department of Public Safety to investigate the seriousness of the threats, as state public safety officials decide what to do about the initial traffic stop near Vernal that has become an Internet sensation, viewed nearly a million times.

Some online posts also threaten violence against Jared Massey and his wife as well, who were pulled over in the videotaped traffic stop.

"Right now, we have no substantial evidence or concern that the officer's life is in danger, but we will follow up," UHP Sgt. Jeff Nigbur said Monday. "We also want to look into that on behalf of Jared Massey's family."

Massey himself wants the online threats would stop. "I wish people would have some common decency every once in a while," he said Monday (November 26th). "When I posted the video it wasn't to vilify the guy, demean him or destroy him, and that's one of the things I hate about this. I wish people would realize and think about this: Trooper Gardner is a real person, he's got a real family. Real lives are being affected," Massey continued.

Massey has been critical of the inflammatory attitudes expressed towards the trooper, calling the posts "unintelligent" and said those behind the hurtful messages aren't adding anything to the debate over the use of Tasers by police. But he still stands by his decision to post the video on the Internet and hasn't pulled it off YouTube. "I think it's a good thing that people know about it so we can say, 'How can we fix it so it doesn't happen again if it's wrong,' but not so we can act like morons," Massey said.

The Utah Highway Patrol has received thousands of phone calls and e-mails from people on both sides of the traffic stop debate, with most critical of the trooper. In addition, comments appended to various news stories, including the Deseret Morning News and KSL Channel 5 (215 comments on tonight's story), have been much more supportive of Massey than of the trooper. However, the comments on the Deseret News story (128 as of now) seem to be slowly shifting in the trooper's favor. One Deseret News commenter even had a previous encounter with Trooper Gardner, and describes it thusly:

Vernal Roid 5:30 a.m. Nov. 27, 2007
I've been pulled over by this officer leaving Vernal late one night. He really treated me with respect, I've seen the video, and feel that both Massey and the officer made some bad choices. However I don't feel that the officer should lose his job, I hope that I don't get judged as harshly as this officer has been.

And here's another sampling of Deseret News comments increasingly supportive of the trooper.

Get Real 5:56 a.m. Nov. 27, 2007
Common on, Massey, you intended to ruin the officer when you had the clip posted on the internet. The tasing shouldn't have happened--it was definately uncalled for, but what did you expect the consequences of your "get even" tactics would be?

Whose the bad guy? 7:01 a.m. Nov. 27, 2007
After watching the video, it's not the officer. Massey is totally clueless and not willing to take responsibility for his actions (speeding), and then he can't even listen to simple instructions. Can you hear him respond to the officers request for his license and registration? After getting out of the car, the officer warned him three times before tasering him. And even after the officer pulls out the taser, Massey just keeps waling around. How stupid do you have to be to not take an officer seriously? I think you have to understand how dangerous his job is, and having someone walking around not following instructions and with his hand in his pocket, would have made me nervous.

Janet 7:14 a.m. Nov. 27, 2007
Wow, The poor officer. If people don't learn to step back and listen this country will be one of anarchy. In my neighborhood we have stop signs and speed limit signs that noone pays attention to at any time. This is an attitude of arrogance and selfishness.The same with people who think speed limit means the bottom speed they should travel. It's the highest speed safe which has been determined by our legal and highway system. When is it ok to not obey the law? I think if the Massey family wanted to sue for the traffic stop it should have been before they themselves were law breakers. They would not have any credulence in my mind and to post this video on the U Tube was a poor choice. The bigger nuts in society love something to go crazy about. I'm really afraid for that poor family of the policeman. Shame on the Massey family. Learn to behave people!

Sean 8:03 a.m. Nov. 27, 2007
Officer Gardner was perfectly fine in how he handled the situation. Mr Massey was argumentative, disobeyed direct orders, and reached his hand into a pocket which could have contained a weapon. He was also headed back to his vehicle where he may have had a weapon.

What was the officer supposed to do? Let the offender reach for whatever he wants and/or go back to his car to retrieve a weapon or drive off?

Our policemen are already vulnerable enough in situations like this. We don't need to give potential criminals even more ability to create a possible life and death situation.

BBKing 8:49 a.m. Nov. 27, 2007
I remember watching a dash-cam video a couple years back. I think it was out of Ohio. And officer has a conversation with a guy, who then casually gets out of his truck. The officer is almost shy, doesn't think much. The driver walks to the back of the truck, bends over to look at his license plate, then casually walks back to the drivers compartment. The whole time the officer is asking what he is doing, could you get back into the front seat. The driver is not following instructions, being slow and diliberate. When he gets back to the drivers compartment he reaches in and pulls out a pistol and starts shooting.

How does this officer not know this situation is going to escalate? I support this officer 100%. This is a speeding ticket and even if you feel that the officer is completely wrong it is not a debate club. The driver could have gotten the video tape, showed up in court and fought it there, and if that was the first 40mph speed sign, probably won.

Instead, it got ugly. Lesson learned, just follow the officer's direction. This is too bad.

The point these people make is that the cop cannot be expected to be a mindreader. Putting your hands into your pocket while having an official encounter with a cop is NOT the smartest thing to do. And in this case, it earned Jared Massey a tasing. Aren't people taught how to deal with cops anymore? Apparently not, certainly not in a school system harried by a Bush Administration more obsessed with test scores than with life skills.

The incident has sparked a healthy debate over a person's rights when being pulled over. In Utah, a person can be arrested for failing to sign a citation. However, an officer has the discretion to simply write "refused to sign" and tell the person they must face the charge in court.

The UHP said it has expedited its investigation into the traffic stop and may render a decision by the end of the week. There has been discussion among UHP leadership about further training for troopers about traffic stops and Taser use. "Are we going to learn from this? Absolutely," Nigbur said. "If we need to continue to train on the issue, that's something that we'll do."

Massey has said he is considering a lawsuit against the UHP.


Anonymous said...

Do what the Trooper tells you to do. That’s why you have the option of contesting any ticket. Don’t take it up with the Trooper. Do what he tells you to do. He’s the law, he’s in charge, and if you wanna argue, you get tazzed and arrested or possibly even worse.
You don’t know your rights as well as the Trooper does.

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