Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dispatch from the Black Iron Prison

Cop Tasers Minor Five Times for Not Getting Off His Bike Fast Enough
By Digby, Hullabaloo

Here's a story about a teen-age bicyclist who was tasered five times for failing to respond to a police officer's order to "get off the road." It is written by a lawyer who specializes in bicyclist rights and he asks the fundamental question: do you have a right to not comply with a police officer? It's at the heart of the taser question because nine times out of ten, people are not being tasered because they are threatening the cop or anyone else; they are tasered because they fail to comply with a police officer's order. So, the question is, do the police have a right to shoot someone with electricity simply because he or she is arguing with them or refuses to promptly obey their order?

If police used these things sparingly and had to answer to board of inquiry whenever they are used, it would be one thing. But they are using them pretty much in any situation and often when they already have someone in custody. And while it's true that as a practical matter one is well advised to cooperate with police, I find it difficult to see how we are a free people, with rights guaranteed by the constitution, if the government is allowed to shoot citizens with electricity solely because they fail to do what agents of the government tell them to do.

Digby is the proprietor of Hullabaloo.

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