Another Genuine Case of a Police Officer ‘Acting Stupidly’ (So where’s Obama?)by Stephen Littau
A 38 year-old mother of three, who posed no threat to the police or anyone else, was tasered right in front of her children in January of this year. Yet to my knowledge, President Obama has failed to address this genuine case of the police “acting stupidly.” Maybe it’s because Audra Harmon cannot help the president make his case about the “history” of race relations and the police since Mrs. Harmon appears to be a Caucasian woman.
No, Mrs. Harmon doesn’t have the ability to claim she was racially profiled for DWB but this does not make the actions of Deputy Sean Andrews any less shameful.
I’m not sure I agree that tasers should be banned from police use altogether but with every incident like this one that occurs tends to strengthen such an argument. As citizens, we need to hold law enforcement accountable when unnecessary or excessive force is used. When an individual poses no threat to a police officer or anyone else, no force should be used*. Tasers should not be a weapon to be used against an individual who does nothing other than annoy a police officer.** I imagine that even the most authoritarian bootlickers would have been outraged had the deputy used a nightstick on the woman, so how is tasering somehow more acceptable?
But there is even more at play in this case than unnecessary use of force which should not be overlooked. Mrs. Harmon was charged for talking on a cell phone while driving (though in the search of her vehicle, no phone was found), speeding (a charge that was added only after the deputy was unable to find a phone and without the aid of a radar gun), resisting arrest (Is calling bullshit on an arrest now considered ‘resisting’?) and of course the obligatory ‘disorderly conduct’ (a.k.a. ‘contempt of cop’). All these trumped up charges were dropped by the DA’s office.
I know, I know, if Mrs. Harmon had stayed in her car and hadn’t failed to ‘respect the deputy’s authoritah’ she would never have been tasered or arrested. Perhaps she should have had more control over her emotions despite doing nothing else wrong. Perhaps she should have waited for the deputy to return to her car and politely ask to see the video replay then or wait to have her day in court***.
But nothing Mrs. Harmon did that day merited a taser or arrest. The deputy should have acknowledged that he had made a mistake and moved on. Now Mrs. Harmon is suing the department for the deputy’ s conduct (and hopefully she will prevail).
President Obama did no favors for those like Mrs. Harmon who have legitimately become victims of police misconduct when he decided to turn the whole overblown Gates situation into a race issue. Like I said before, race did not need to be part of the discussion – at all. But when the president and others use a mild example of police conduct as an example of the current state of policing, it seems to others that those of us who have legitimate arguments to be taken less seriously.
Hat Tip: The Agitator
*If there is good reason to place an individual under arrest, only the minimum amount of force required to perform the arrest should be used.
**In this case, Mrs. Harmon demonstrated the officer was wrong when he could not find a cell phone in the vehicle. I’m sure that hurt Deputy Andrews feelings; that’s just too damn bad.
***I think sometimes the police write tickets and/or charge individuals knowing full well that most people are unwilling to go through the hassle of going to court. My wife was given a ticket for failing to come to a complete stop before turning right at a red light. She maintained that she did in-fact stop and went to court to contest the ticket. From there the judge offered to reduce the offense to a broken tail light rather than set up another court date. Though I was disappointed on principle that she accepted the deal, I certainly understand why she did; she already went through the hassle of appearing once in court, how many more days would she have to set aside to fight a bogus charge?