The Electric Blue Line

« December 2007 »

Memo to Claudia Wright: YOU ARE DUMB.

I'm torn on the whole Taser issue. On the one hand, I find the rash of gratuitous and unnecessary Taserings of the past few years to be a horrifying and dangerous trend. And I'd love to see the goddamned things taken out of the hands of police officers who have become enamored of the damn things, and what the damn things let them do to the average citizen.

And another part of me thinks that if you take away the Tasers, then all the completely innocent Best Buy customers who get upset at being accused of using a stolen credit card will just get a bullet in the head instead of 50,000 volts. There's something ugly going on here, and the latest incident in Daytona Beach is just another example.

Here's what went down. It was the Monday after Thanksgiving, and one of the crack squad of blue-shirted drones at a Daytona Beach Best Buy suspected a customer was using a stolen credit card. There was a police officer in the store, Daytona Beach PD officer Claudia Wright. She confronted the customer. The customer "became belligerent" and pointed her finger at her face. Less than a minute of this was enough for Wright to decide that fifty thousand volts was the only solution.

Apparently, only the calm and quiet provided by the fine product from Taser, Inc. were able to calm things down to the point where people could learn that the customer wasn't using a stolen credit card, and was belligerent because, well, she was being accused of a crime because she walked away from the cashier in mid-transaction. And she walked away from the cashier in mid-transaction because she got a call from her husband about their children on her cell phone.

It's completely fucking ridiculous. At what point are we going to draw a line and say that certain behaviors, even unwise ones, don't rise to the level of electrical shock and arrest? Is it too much to ask that our police officers be willing to spend more than a minute determining the facts of a situation before stunning people? I don't think it is, but people will make lots of excuses for cops. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"The fact that she (the victim) was resisting and not following commands being given by a uniformed officer, that means that officer eventually was going to get hurt. Claudia Wright did not wake up that morning and say, 'I think I want to tase someone today.' Everybody has their opinion, but at the end of the day none of the people who have an opinion walk in that officer's shoes." - Police Chief Mike Chitwood

First of all, I know I don't have a law enforcement background. But I'm pretty damn sure that, statistically speaking, less than 100% of situations where people are yelling and not following commands lead to an attack on police officers. Especially 35-year-old women shopping at Best Buy. And second of all, FUCK THE OFFICER'S SHOES.

I'm tired of hearing that the only people who can recognize when a cop has fucked up in a particular situation are other cops. We get that it's not easy. We get that it's dangerous. But we're way beyond the judgment calls of back alleys and random traffic stops here. The police are not infallible and not unassailable, and average citizens should not be living in a constant fear that the slightest perceived infraction in front of an officer could lead to us twitching and drooling on the pavement

...especially people whose only crime was not completing a retail transaction at Best Buy. I know same-store sales are down this Christmas season, but we can't start Tasering people for not shopping. We go down that road, and pretty soon there'll be an assistant manager waterboarding you until you accept the extended service agreement, and sending you to Gitmo for trying to return something without a gift receipt. And then we'll really be fucked, because we'll have to shop at Circuit City instead.