Yes, it would be nice. But in reality, there was nothing shocking about the arrest story trickling out of the police department Monday morning, or the way the Post Star downplayed an officer’s reckless use of a Taser. This use was reckless enough that 38-year-old Darren Robinson, an alleged cocaine trafficker, remains in serious condition at the Albany Medical Center Hospital.
Update: Having the luxuries of facial surgery, a week-long stay at Albany Med and around-the-clock guard service ain’t cheap if you’re under the custody of the Glens Falls Police. Chances are pretty good it could cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars” and perhaps eclipse what the Warren County Jail has in it’s yearly budget for inmate medical care. County taxpayers should be proud of these yahoo cops, especially when they get their bill for 2008.
The incident started when police pulled Robinson over on a routine traffic stop. After securing probable cause, they cuffed the man and began to search his car. That’s when Robinson took off running. Police later claimed Robinson was trying to hurdle a cruiser that had blocked his path.
“Police had to use the Taser after Robinson jumped onto the hood of a stopped Glens Falls Police patrol car and leapt off the vehicle in an effort to get away from officers,” the Post Star article states.
Had to indeed. First of all, catching former Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson at the peek of his anabolic steroid abuse wouldn’t be that difficult if the guy had his arms cuffed. So it’s a bit suspect that the officers didn’t try to nab this guy the old fashioned way: by chasing after him on foot. Let’s also not forget that Robinson wouldn’t have escaped had he been placed in the back of a cruiser after the officer decided to arrest him.
By their own account, police nailed the man while he was trying to jump off the cruiser’s hood. And as physics would have it, he fell on his face. With his hands and muscles immobilized, Robinson had nothing but pavement to break his fall. Common sense and even a cursory understanding of gravity might have prompted the officer to think twice about using this tactic.
But for the police and the Post Star, none of this matters. Robinson was a crook; a two-bit con man and drug dealer at odds with the law for decades. The reporter waited until the third paragraph to mention a Taser was used and halfway through the story to note the weapon was used while the suspect was handcuffed.
Ask any agents of the law about Tasers and they’ll offer them as a non-lethal tool that prevents close-contact injuries to both police and suspects alike. Pose this same question to Robinson’s soon-to-be-hired civil attorney and you’ll likely get a markedly different answer.
Were the suspect carrying weapon or combative with officers, perhaps they would have been justified in there use. However, Robinson was frisked and cuffed before the Taser was administered. And by their own accounts, he didn’t make any hostile moves toward police, which leaves them with the ‘too fat and lazy’ defense. It’s going to be a tough lump to swallow if a guy like Robinson makes off with a multi-million dollar police brutality payout.
Update: Did somebody say lawsuit? Ali Robinson, the brother of the alleged crack dealer, is seeking an ambulance chaser to chase some cash out of the “Taser now, ask questions later” taxpayers of Glens Falls. These folks are certainly going to enjoy paying Robinson’s post-release retirement fund. Nothing like having a “crackhead” with a “cracked-head” and several hundred thousand dollars of settlement money running around the streets. Keep up the good work guys!
Other communities in the northeast have crafted legislation after their police began using Tasers for just about everything under the sun, whether it be herding drunks or removing protesters. Take for instance the large hippy commune some call Brattleboro, Vt., which recently adopted a Taser policy in wake numerous instances of Taser misuse instances.
Most recently, the police were filmed repeatedly zapping a pair of innocuous protesters that didn’t comply with their demands. The town’s police chief was fired over the incident and the protesters are now embroiled in a civil suit against the town.
Under the policy passed this week, Brattleboro Police can use a Taser to defend an officer or a third person from an immediate threat of physical injury, or to prevent a suicide or serious self-inflicted injury. Among other provisions, the devices are not to be used against passive resisters or to rouse impaired subjects.
Cities and towns in New York could learn from the crunchy communities to the east. Providing a guideline for Taser use would at least give cops a framework for when its proper to use them. Absent this sort of policy, officers are bound to start using the devices with alarming frequency and in ways that might later prove a harbinger for expensive litigation.