A police officer in Trotwood, Ohio recently used a Taser gun on a pregnant woman because she tried to leave their police station with her own child. You can view a partial video of the incident at the link provided.
Trotwood Public Safety Director Michael Etter said the incident happened on Nov. 18. He said the woman arrived at the police department asking to give up custody of her 1-year-old son, WHIO-TV in Dayton reported.
Etter said an officer spoke with the woman as she held onto the child outside the police department.
“(He) attempted to obtain information on both the mother and the child, at which time the mother refused to give any information and became very agitated,” Etter said.
Surveillance video from the police department shows the woman trying to leave with the child. The officer then grabs her coat in an effort to get her to stop.
Etter said the officer was doing what he thought was in the best interest of the boy.
The video shows the woman struggling with the officer, who then takes the child from her and gives the boy to another officer. The first officer then forces the woman down on her stomach, and he then uses a Taser on her neck.
It’s an interesting incident. And since the video is grainy and there is no sound, it’s difficult to know exactly how it went down. But most people seem to know that the police’s version of “asking questions” is often a lot different than the average person’s version of “asking questions.” The way that police “ask questions” is generally intended to scare the shit out of you. And clearly when you’re dealing with a woman who is trying to give up custody of her child in this way, it would generally be safe to assume that she is not going to be in either the best or most rational frame of mind.
In this article, Etter claims that if she cooperated, the police probably “would have called her a minister, called a crisis counselor.” And she was supposed to know this . . . how? Did they tell her? Etter gives no indication that they did, nor did the police report that I dug up. None of the articles mention it, but for several reasons I do think that it’s important to note that the woman is black. The most important of those reasons are that police have a strong record of brutality towards women of color and that the black community tends to have a strong distrust for law enforcement. Why? Well, because police have a strong record of brutality against people of color. And because in those communities, police officers who say that they “just want to ask questions” often mean that they want to make some arrests. How exactly a person with this relationship to the police is supposed to know when “we want to ask questions” means “we’re going to call your minister” instead of “we’re going to arrest you,” I’m entirely sure. Especially since in this case, you know, they did arrest her. And used a Taser on her neck.
As is usually the case, though, the police explanation for their actions is the most interesting part:
Etter said the officer did not know the woman was pregnant.
“She did not disclose, even after she was arrested, that she was pregnant,” Etter said. He said the woman was wearing a large winter coat and had her child on her lap when she was talking to the officer.
Etter said the department is cooperating with the FBI investigation, and there is also an ongoing internal investigation to see if the use of force was warranted for the situation.
Etter said the officer involved is still on duty.
Trotwood’s policy on use of force states that officers should “greatly evaluate each situation with discretion when anticipating the deployment of the Taser on young children, elderly persons and pregnant females.”
Really, you didn’t know that she was pregnant? That’s precisely why you shouldn’t use Tasers. You don’t know who’s pregnant, or who has a heart condition, or epilepsy or a history of strokes or medical devices in their bodies, or high blood pressure, etc. Which is why you shouldn’t use them.
The Trotwood police department also apparently has a policy in place that allows Tasers to be used on young children, elderly persons and pregnant women, so long as it’s done with “discretion.” What the fuck does “discretion” mean to them? If that person has a gun, or is about to stab you, I can see that some force would be necessary. And yet, that was surely not the case here — nor is it the case in many Taser incidents. I’m also interested to know just how often a police officer’s safety is threatened by a “young child.” Hmm.
Last week, the U.N. called Taser use a form of torture:
A United Nations committee said Friday that use of Taser weapons can be a form of torture, in violation of the U.N. Convention Against Torture.
Use of the electronic stun devices by police has been marked with a sudden rise in deaths – including four men in the United States and two in Canada within the last week.
Canadian authorities are taking a second look at them, and in the United States, there is a wave of demands to BAN them.
The U.N. Committee Against Torture referred Friday to the use of TaserX26 weapons which Portuguese police has acquired. An expert had testified to the committee that use of the weapons had “proven risks of harm or death.”
“The use of TaserX26 weapons, provoking extreme pain, constituted a form of torture, and that in certain cases it could also cause death, as shown by several reliable studies and by certain cases that had happened after practical use,” the committee said in a statement.
“Well, it means that it’s a very serious thing,” Amnesty International USA Executive Director Larry Cox told CBS Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen. “These are people that have seen torture around the world, all kinds of torture. So they don’t use the word lightly.”
Tasers have become increasingly controversial in the United States, particularly after several notorious cases where their use by police to disable suspects was questioned as being excessive. Especially disturbing is the fact that six adults died after being tased by police in the span of a week.
That’s right: in the span of a week six people have died from being tased. Six. That’s almost one person dead per day, due to something that is rapidly becoming part of routine police procedure. The NAACP is being particularly vocal in their call to disallow Taser use, the reasons for which ought to be obvious. All of the death instances coved in the article seem to be cases where a suspect was “struggling” with police officers, but showing no evidence of brandishing a weapon or causing any serious bodily harm.
Let me say that I can certainly see why officers would want to prevent a woman from leaving with a child that she just tried to abandon. I can also say that snatching the child from her, throwing her to the ground, using a Taser on her neck and then booking her for “child endangerment” and “resisting arrest” doesn’t sound like the best way to do it. That is violence. It was force used against her as a woman who was perceived to be a poor mother, not because she had committed any crime. And it’s a type of violence that I can’t see them using against a nice-looking, middle-class white woman.