Thursday, November 22, 2007

Dangerous Conversations

A driver was tased in Utah after asking cop why he was stopped. There's video at the source.

The video shows the Utah Highway Patrolman pull over Jared Massey and his pregnant wife who also had their baby with them in the car and ask for Mr Massey's license. ...

A shocked Massey asks "what the hell is wrong with you?" and backs away, turning around as the officer had demanded, at which point the officer unleashes 50,000 volts from the Taser into Massey's body, sending him screaming to the ground instantly and causing his wife to jump out of the car and yell hysterically for help. ...

The icing on the cake comes at the end of the video when the officer lies to his own colleague about the encounter, clearly stating that he verbally warned Massey he was going to tase him, as is the law, when there was no warning whatsoever.

Mr Massey is planning to file a lawsuit against the Utah Highway Patrol. He says he was already slowing down as he approached the 40 mile per hour sign in the construction zone outside of vernal. All charges except for the speeding ticket have been dropped.


Blogger mythusmage said...

"Power without responsibility corrupts. Absolute power without absolute responsibility corrupts absolutely." John W. Campbell Jr.

11/22/2007 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger waffle/gaufre said...

In Utah, you have to sign the ticket or you are arrested. Signing the ticket is not an admission of guilt. When you are being arrested, turning around and walking away while saying "What is wrong with you?" is a really bad move. Instructions from a police officer are not "suggestions". Sorry, no sympathy here.

11/22/2007 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger tjic said...

If signing a ticket isn't an admission of guilt, what is it an admission of?

And, if it's an admission of any variety, does one not have the right under either the first of fifth amendment to NOT make whatever statement is being demanded by the police?

11/22/2007 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger waffle/gaufre said...

My understanding is that by signing the ticket you are promising to either plead guilty and pay the fine or plead not guilty and appear in court.

11/22/2007 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

It's a promise to appear, which you sign without mouthing off. The cop was out of line too, without the warning.

Good thing to have in your car--a tape recorder.

11/22/2007 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Absolute BS! Any law compelling someone to follow police instructions that have nothing to do with maintaining order and under the penalty of being tasered on the spot should be ruled unconstitutional. For the first time in years, I'm with the leftists on this one.

That video angers me. The myopic piss-ant of a cop and his b~tt buddy both deserve a good a~s kicking. The cop's a nut. He pulled the trigger because for a split second, when the driver asked "what's wrong with you", he realized it. He's over his head, and should be disarmed and patrolling a Walmart parking lot yesterday. Also, the couple should have all the money to send their kid in the oven through Harvard for putting up with that kind of abuse of power and all which followed.

11/22/2007 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Taser Deaths in Canada Spark Outcry

Sign the damned ticket, be on your way. Mail the ticket to your lawyer.

11/22/2007 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger cctropics said...

is this driver stupid or what?

11/22/2007 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Amnesty International--Taser Report

11/22/2007 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger waffle/gaufre said...

Stupid driver? More like suicidal.
When told to turn around and put his hands behind his back, he instead turns and walks away and says "What is wrong with you.. ?" and then reaches into his pocket.

11/22/2007 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Oak Cliff Lee said...

Most printed traffic citation forms have words to the effect; "This is not an admission of guilt. This is a promise to appear." Tazing a citizen without prior warning if not fending off an attack however, may attract a lawsuit and a settlement by your political subdivision...costs us tax dollars. In the land of the free and the home of the brave you are not required to "make nice" to your neighborhood peace officer...but the pain and suffering he inflicts may convince you it would have been the better policy. Remember the Black cop from back East whose specialty was going to the West Coast and goading White officers into beating the crap out of him with nothing but a little lip and a lot of attitude, all for the benefit of hidden camera? Officers pumping adrenalin forget about the car camera and do things they're sorry for later. The super telephoto, anti-shake stabilized camera in the TV helicopters have cost cities dearly as well. Makes one fairly certain that in pre video days, drunk, mouthy, and bad actor citizens would catch an extra kick or two, to the head. Ever notice how sweet and sensitive the police are on the reality cop shows when the tapes running? For this reason I believe it would be excellent public policy for all police interrogations to be on camera...which would save big bucks in court time arguing whether the statements were voluntary. So maybe just arm the video or audio on your new cell phone when stopped and be very respectful to the officer doing a dangerous job, for nobody ever won a roadside argument with law enforcement, while some do win before the judge or jury. So was the guy speeding? Of course! The officer said so.

11/22/2007 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Being in a situation with an armed man, police officer or otherwise, is a little like being in a situation with a 600 pound African lion. It's inherently unpredictable: right and wrong are concepts that are very far away.

Legally, of course right and wrong have everything to do with it. That's why there's the law and that's why there are the courts. But right there and then your best friend is your spider-sense. What you can say, what you'd best not say. But even if your instincts and ability to read human nature are good, you can still be surprised.

11/22/2007 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger said...

Agreed: The driver behaved stupidly. The officer behaved in far worse fashion. If this cocksure little popinjay isn't trained well enough or mentally stable enough to handle a mildly disgrungled family man, I pity the citizens in his jurisdiction.

11/22/2007 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger waffle/gaufre said...

Wretchard: I think your last comment regarding unpredictability goes double for a leo doing a traffic stop. A citizen pulled over by the police knows a lot more about how the leo will act than the leo knows about how the driver will act. The driver could be anyone from a "salt-of-the-earth family man" to Timothy McVeigh.

I do think that the underlying issue with the use of the taser is: how much physical risk should a leo have to run to subdue unruly suspects?

A taser has minimal risk to the leo, wrestling with a suspect risks stabbing or a needle stick or who knows what.

11/22/2007 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

I think this is the exception and not the rule. There are dirty cops out there – but the ratio is low.

I will note that a friend of mine who’s Dad was a cop once said, “You, know there are not any absolutely clean cops.” That maybe true but hopefully to small degree of abuse.

I have known lawyers who admit to being practiced liars. But, they also claim that cops are more practiced than the average citizen. It sounds correct but I really don’t known.

I do suspect that being a cop is stressful. I also know from being around people who weight lift and use body building drugs that a fair number of cops do both. Some body building drugs can have tremendous side effects.

If this particular cop was using said drugs he should come clean.

Further, police agencies should have a firm drug testing policy which includes body building drugs. The danger for body building drugs to cause abusive behavior is just too high in the law enforcement field.

Hopefully, the justice system will administer justice in this matter.

11/22/2007 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Farming is both more stressful and dangerous than being a cop.

11/22/2007 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

For those who think the officer in the wrong here, I'm curious to know: When a suspect refuses to obey an officer's command, what exactly would you have the officer do? Beg the suspect's pardon and depart the scene?

When a police officer issues a command, your compliance is not optional.

11/22/2007 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger Gary M. said... said...

Agreed: The driver behaved stupidly. The officer behaved in far worse fashion. If this cocksure little popinjay isn't trained well enough or mentally stable enough to handle a mildly disgrungled family man, I pity the citizens in his jurisdiction.

Well said. If the the law does require a warning before the use of a taser, then I hope the cop loses this case and loses some pay. This stridency to be "in control" at all times has cops too often escalating matters unnecessarily. SMost times "going with the flow" will produce the best result. Being irked in a situation like this is a common experience for a motorist in this situation. A cop should be patient in explaining to the citizen that signing the ticket is a matter of form, not an admission of guilt. Maybe a policeman has to do it several times in order to calm the driver down. That is his job, not jacking a simple ticket into an arrest.
Most of you have seen the classic clip of a cop issuing a ticket to (a ME driver, I think). The driver goes berserk calling the cop and the procedure every name in the book for minutes but the magnimous cop just stolidly sticks with procedure, listens to the knucklehead patiently and waits for the irate driver come to acceptance of the situation. The ticket is issued, each go their own way and a great viral video is born. It is clear to everyone that the driver was over the top and that that magnificent cop is a wizened professional. Everyone feels warm for the cop and is aware of what a difficult job that a leo, all leos, has. The cop spent a little time letting the driver vent on the side of the road but it was undoubtedly one-tenth of the time this cop spent transporting this married man driving his minivan to the station, booking him, doing the paperwork and finally getting back on duty. This cop is what is known in the parlance as a prick, and I hope he gets his.
One also wonders whether it was that time of month that the cop had to make his quota of revenue enhancement stops. Got to feed that treasury.
Also, while the taser is known as a non-lethal weapon that is increasingly being called into question, and the police are using it all too liberally and unthinkingly.

11/22/2007 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

"...stating that he verbally warned Massey he was going to tase him, as is the law, when there was no warning whatsoever."

If it were me, I would have not ignored the implicit visual warning when the officer pulled out the taser and pointed it at me. It was clear that the officer was serious and Massey had several seconds in which to comply. Instead, he turns and walks away. The incident occured on the edge of a busy road, only a couple of feet from oncoming traffic. I would imagine the officer wanted Massey to comply between the officer's cruiser and Massey's car, rather than next to Massey's car since it would mean that Massey would likely fall into the traffic lane when tased--let alone the danger to the officer. If the officer had taken the few seconds to give a verbal warning, the situation would have been much more dangerous for both of them.

11/22/2007 09:54:00 PM  
Blogger Tom_Holsinger said...

Automatic video cameras on police vehicles are a great thing. I betcha scores of Utah attorneys are salivating about 18 U$C attorney fees. See the video at the link below.

Because this is not merely an instance of personal injury damages to two citizens, but of an opportunity to seek an injunctive order mandating training for the entire Utah Highway Patrol in taser use, plus compliance committee$. The members of compliance committees are PAID.

Misuse of tasers by law enforcement officers will get the puppies pulled from use, and put the manufacturer in bankruptcy, from wrongful death lawsuits. They should be used only as an alternative to deadly force, not as a substitute for nightsticks or to punish people.

11/22/2007 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger xlbrl said...

The fact is law enforcement at all levels can and do take steps to keep exactly this type of individual out of their ranks, or the taxpayers pay the price, as they should. The reason there are a shortage of good cops is because our natural response is exactly what occured here. Yes, there are departments that train their cops to take shit, and expect it of them. Wiser heads hate morons of this type because it makes for a hostile public.
A substantial portion of the non-criminal public does not behave predictably or intelligently--particularly those who have been selected out in the first place. This is part of the job. He needs to be fired, along with his boss.

11/23/2007 12:02:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

If you refuse to sign the ticket the cop has to arrest you. The signature is an acknowledgment that you're aware that a ticket was issued and an acknowledgment that you will appear in court or pay the fine.

11/23/2007 12:26:00 AM  
Blogger Mac from Michigan said...

The problem with using a Taser as an alternative to deadly force is that it may not be enough force. Officer pulls a Taser while the suspect pulls a gun. Bad form.

Replay the video. What caught my attention was that Massey turned and put his right hand in his pocket, while walking away. Bad things can live in right pockets (the majority of people are right handed).

People take their hands ,_out_ of their pockets when walking toward their vehicle.

Ok, let's remove the taser from the event. Massey is not complying with verbal commands. He refuses to sign the ticket (is that actual law in Utah or not?). He turns around, places his hand in his pocket. Now freeze the situation. Does the officer approach him, pulling his hand out of his pocket or does he pull out his sidearm?

Big problem with approaching is that there is no way he could cover that amount of ground before a gun or knife could be brought out. And too often a hands on situation can degrade rapidly, with both the officer and suspect being injured.

Or does he pull his sidearm, hoping that Massey will look back and begin to comply, once he sees that he's a few pounds of trigger pull away from a larger problem then not signing a ticket.

Realistically it's a tougher call then you realize, since all this takes place within very few seconds.

Is it Utah law to require an officer to advise someone their about to be tazed? Dunno, it's not here in Michigan. Again, it may be situational, i.e. an incident can escalate so fast as there is no time to advise.

I think the officer should have explained to Massey, while he was still in his car what the significance of signing (or not) the ticket was. Sounds like it's just a "promise" to take care of the ticket, one way or another (again, no such requirement in MI)

The audio is bad at this point, but it sounds like Massey's attitude was coming loud and clear to the officer.

11/23/2007 07:08:00 AM  
Blogger theproprietor said...

Jared Massey should have been wearing a “Don’t taze me, bro!”™ t-shirt to ensure his dislike for tasers was properly conveyed to the Utah State Trooper.

11/23/2007 07:29:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

I just saw the video.

No, Jared was not verbally warned but what did he think the taser just pointing at him was about? That was hardly the fastest taser in the west.

Some traffic stops are routine, some are not; the trooper/police officer does not know if the stop is going to be routine until after the encounter is over.

When I get pulled over (it has been a number of years) I get my license and registration out immediately and place them on the dashboard and keep my hands on top of the steering wheel.

Signing a ticket is not an admission of guilt it is an acknowledgment of receipt of the citation & a testimony to the fact you have to deal with the ticket.

On the back of WI tickets is a form for filing a no contest or a guilty plea and then you visit the seat of whatever municipality zapped you (or perhaps by mail, my last WI ticket required me to pay the fine in the county seat or I waited too long to mail it can not remember it has been so long) to pay it (I pleaded no contest).

In Missouri (IIRC) there was a young man getting pulled over frequently. He finally put a vid cam in his car to document his speedometer reading. He gets pulled over and asked the officer why he was being pulled over. The officer gets pissed off and eventually tells the young man he'll just make up a reason and who would a judge & jury believe? A police officer or a young punk?

The young man's tone of voice was mildly snotty, but in that case the officer was way out of line.

11/23/2007 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Actually, I think it is the litigation explosion that has caused such incidents.

It is far safer for a police officer to follow an approved and well-defined procedure, “Step 1, Step 2, Step 3” than it is to try to use some judgement. Lawsuits then become about the procedure rather than about the actions of the officer and the one sued becomes the department rather than a specific individual.

Back in the 1990’s, a Supreme Court case showed how this was going. A woman was driving along a rural road in Texas, going slowly, with a child on her lap and her seatbelt undone. They were looking for a toy the kid had dropped out the window earlier. A sheriff’s deputy came along, noted the fact she had her seatbelt undone, and not only gave her a ticket but handcuffed her and took her to jail, not even allowing a call to get another adult to take custody of the children. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately verified that the officer acted within his authority.

I think the only reasonable course of action in such cases would be to loudly announce that such behavior was unacceptable and to pick up your family and move to another county if not another state. Hit them in the pocketbook. As we said at the Pentagon, the three most important words in the world are “Make it hurt.”

11/23/2007 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Garth Farkley said...

I've watched this video two or three times. I still can't tell if the driver has something on his belt near his right hip. He clearly was non-compliant with instructions, no reason for tasering there. But then he turns away and conceals his hands. Particularly, his left hand is clearly concealed from the officer's perspective. A non-cooperative driver who refuses instructions to put his hands behind his back and begins walking away is a danger to the officer, to himself and to any innocent bystanders. This cop may have had other options but I wasn't there. He had split seconds to assess the danger of this traffic stop and the behavior of this non-cooperative driver. How much risk of being shot and killed by the side of the road by this idiot driver is the cop required to take. The idiot was not injured by the tasering except perhaps his pride, which he deserved. As I understand it he himself has published this on You tube so he's made himself famous, bro.

If I were in charge I'd call this one no blood no foul. The cop and his family are entitled to opt for the safe way out of any dangerous traffic stop.

11/23/2007 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Smashmaster said...

Cops have gotten way too eager to strong-arm the populous. I used to be a cop, and I have serious issues with the way things are being done now. This isn't a right/left issue, this is a institutional problem that I have seen way too much of.

The problem here, and all to often otherwise, is that the officer is escalating the situation. And that is what he did wrong.

The officer has plenty of power, not just the threat of deadly (or less then deadly) force, but legal as well. With that power, he has plenty of options to direct the outcome.

He had a crappy attitude to begin with, and by responding to the speeder's crappy attitude, he demonstrated that he is not a professional but a wannabe.

Several years ago, I saw a video of a state trooper who pulled over a speeder that was none too happy. The speeder yelled, cursed and threw a hissy fit. It was quite funny, if you were someone sitting at home watching it, knowing it wasn't going to turn out bad. But during the whole time the trooper kept his composure, wasn't put off his game or lost control of the situation. When the speeder threw his ticket out the window, the trooper calmly said that he better pick that up or he would be sited for littering. He didn't yell, put his hand on this revolver, threaten or in any way escalate the situation. In the end, they both went there separate ways. Why? Because the trooper knew that just because someone isn't happy doesn't mean that he is dangerous. Well handled.

The lack of professionalism in the above video is what caused this situation to get out of hand.

11/23/2007 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Pogo said...

I'm with Smashmaster.
The cop here was unprofessional.

He took it personally. He escalated a minor event into a major one. He created a headache for his boss and his boss's boss, and the city council. He may have cost them settlement cash, but he certainly cost his town alot of process cash (eaten up by the legal system churning this stupid episode out).

Absent some intervention, he's going to do this again and again, and then one time the result will be really bad and his defenders won't be so sanguine. A man is uncrontrollably on the side of a highway with cars barrelling past. What if a passing car had hit him?

11/23/2007 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

I think a major part of driving school, or at least a chapter of driver licensing manuals need to be a how to act if you are stopped by a police officer and why.

For the protection of the officer but ultimately for the protection of the citizen, the notion of acting the mouthy outraged motorist is stupid. The police have their training to fall back on, and that training does not, cannot allow much room for non-compliance.

The officer needs to answer the citizens questions or at least succinctly explain why he is asking the driver to do certain things before he provides an answer. De-escalating a situation is an important skill, too often overlooked in training because the tendency to violence has escalated.

In this case the driver appears to us to not pose a threat. He appears to be just a stubborn and excited jackass. Body language, and use of other tools, allows for accurate and appropriate response. As a practiced communicator the officer ought did not appear to use many of the tools available. "Let the idiot hang himself", it seems the driver was well on his way to doing.

Unfortunately, there is no way of our saying if the cop was merely being a jerk within the limits of the law, or had some other motive behind his actions.

11/23/2007 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger mythusmage said...

Saw the footage this evening; having done that I now amend my earlier statement to say, Murray is an idiot.

When an armed man is giving you the opportunity to be polite, you be polite. Murray was rude, Murray was discourteous. Murray is lying like a toddler with cookie crumbs on his fingers. Murray gets no sympathy from me, and could use a few rounds of "Don't Dis da Man."

I saw the video, I did not hear much of what the two men said. From posture and body language I find it fairly obvious that Murray was looking for trouble. From posture and body language I find it fairly obvious the officer was about ready to do a take-down and hog-tie on the jerk. Had I been there the officer would've had an assistant.

Life's hard enough on law enforcement without some self inflated ego getting all Al Sharpton on 'em.

Murray, pursue your complaint, file your civil action! Show the world what kind of moron your wife is stuck with.

And I hope her lawyer gets you for everything you own, and the divorce judge flat out denies visitation.

"What a maroon!" Bugs Bunny.

11/23/2007 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger John J. Coupal said...

Was the driver a resident of Utah? I can't read the license plate.

If not a resident, is a driver there required to sign any form put in front of him by law enforcement with no explaation as to what it includes?

It looks like the state of Utah is going to lose tourists, and the taxpayers of the officer's jurisdiction are going to be paying big bucks compensation to that driver and that family for that fiasco.

Also, did the officer refuse to tell the driver what officially-recorded speed the driver was accused of driving?

11/23/2007 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

well call me a retard...

1st the cop says sign the ticket, the retard REFUSES.

2nd. when the cop says get out he complies but when the cop says "turn around and place your hands behind your back" and the retard REFUSES and WALKS away with his BACK to the cop...

now where i come from, this clown is a putz....

case closed

11/24/2007 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Evanston2 said...

Got to agree with Smashmaster: the officer escalated the situation.

I'm almost always on the "law & order" side but most comments I read here fault the driver for stupidity. Sure, no doubt his argumentation was stupid, but it's not a crime. A simple traffic stop became an arrest with associated paperwork and legal costs and for what? Is the driver a public menace of some sort? Sorry, but I don't see it. This arrest was at best a waste of law enforcement resources and at worst inspires contempt for cops.

I'm sorta curious about the Miranda Right discussion at the end of the video, too. Why doesn't the officer read the driver his rights? It sure doesn't seem unreasonable. I've never been a cop but conducted approx. 8 military investigations and reading rights and explaining why witnesses have to sign certain documents are routine matters -- has to be done every time. Why not knock it out early, particularly so at the urging of the alleged criminal. Was the offense so mysterious that the cop couldn't read the rights then? Or is it routine practice upon arrest to expedite movement of the criminal and clean up the situation (e.g., clear the wife to drive home) before reading Miranda Rights? Just curious.

11/24/2007 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger waffle/gaufre said...

My understanding of miranda (not a lawyer) is that it is a mandatory warning given before a suspect is questioned. This driver is not being questioned, he's being arrested for failing to sign the ticket. No miranda required to arrest him and put him in the police car.

11/24/2007 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger Nan said...

Note: when an officer of the law is pointing a taser at you and asking you to comply with an order to put your hands behind your back, you should do it. The wrong move is to turn around and conceal your left hand from the officers view and reach toward your right pocket. Either is grounds for immediate tasing.

Due to youtube restrictions the video of a non director must be under 10 minutes, but the full video is 20 minutes or more. So we don't have the full picture.

The cop will skate with some de-escalation training.

11/25/2007 05:47:00 PM  

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