I’ll be visiting the family in the Pacific Northwest later this summer, and I’m going to be very, very careful on the road. The police are authorized to torture you for traffic violations; the courts have recently decided that a case of a pregnant woman who was tasered for refusing to sign a traffic ticket was a fair use of force.
The woman was driving her 12-year-old to the African American Academy in Seattle when she was pulled over on suspicion of speeding in 2004. The child left the car for school and a verbal spat with the police resulted in the woman receiving three, 50,000-volt shocks, first to her thigh, then shoulder and neck while she was in her vehicle. An officer was holding Brooks’ arm behind Brooks’ back while she was being shocked.
Brooks gave the officer her driver’s license, but Brooks refused to sign the ticket — believing it was akin to signing a confession. She was ultimately arrested for refusing to sign and to comply with officers asking her to exit the vehicle.
You know what the police should do in these cases? Add penalties to the ticket, refer it to the courts, and hit her up with extra fines. Wrestling her out of the car and zapping her with intent to cause pain is a bit out of line, and really didn’t contribute to the enforcement of the law.
The court’s decision is bizarre.
The majority noted that the M26 Taser was set in “stun mode” and did not cause as much pain as when set on “dart mode.” The majority noted that the circuit’s recent and leading decision on the issue concerned excessive force in the context of a Taser being set on Dart mode, which causes “neuro-muscular incapacitation.”
Stun mode, the court noted, didn’t rise to the level of excessive force because it imposes “temporary, localized pain only.”
So it’s OK for the police to cause pain for traffic offenses? Maybe they should be equipped with cattle prods.