The video above was posted by Bradford, Florida County Sheriff Gordon Smith to his Facebook page. In his introduction to the video he praises the officer for his cowardly actions.
Now, I am not sure about you, but this does not seem like either a justified or commendable use of force at all. Smith says Lawtey Officer Jay Raulerson used a ‘less than lethal tactic’ to bring the ‘situation under control’.
First of all, the use of tasers by police have led to many deaths, so referring to this potentially deadly weapon as ‘less than lethal’ is either a mark of ignorance or (more likely) absolute dishonesty by Smith. In idea conditions a taser is often less deadly than, say, a gun. Yet in many situations, according to various factors such as the stun gun itself, the medical condition of the subject tased or the effects of falling after being tased, this weapon is anything but non-lethal.
Secondly, characterizing this situation as ‘out of control’ is a stretch so wide you could fit a time zone through it. While the actions of the man are bizarre and unexplainable, nothing he does indicates he poses a serious threat. He has no weapon in view nor does he appear to be looking for a physical altercation. He is merely distressed by something and clearly being vocal about it. It is said that he ‘aggressively approached’ the officer, but if his approach was so aggressive then the officer should have first tried to de-escalate the situation before jolting the man with high voltage. In fact, if the officer felt the man was a threat, he should have stayed in his car until back-up had arrived. However, since Smith was already also on the scene, there was back-up. It seems to me that the failure of these officers to communicate and form a better plan to de-escalate the situation put them in a situation where they felt needlessly endangered. Because they were unable to do their jobs properly, they instead quickly resorted to tactics involving violence instead.
The failure to de-escalate situations like this before using possibly deadly means to circumvent an unknown threat is a massive failure we are seeing everywhere, all of the time. Whether it is the mentally ill, the mentally handicapped or the momentarily impassioned; officers are constantly misinterpreting a cry for help as a threat and acting accordingly. So instead of assisting those who may need it the most in productive ways, police are attacking them under the often thin disguise of their own safety. Whether it is a irrational concern for ones own safety, or just a tactic to make their jobs easier, the treatment of individuals by police in these situations is both putting people in danger; as well as creating a massive movement of people becoming increasingly skeptical of our burgeoning police state.
How do cops expect respect and trust when they themselves give little to none themselves?