July 16, 2010

This is just disgusting. There should be a criminal investigation of these two officers.

2 officers out of jobs in wake of repeated Tasering of woman:

Janice Wells called the Richland Police Department when she feared a prowler was outside her clapboard house in the rural west Georgia town.

The third-grade teacher had phoned for help. But within minutes of an officer coming to her backdoor, she was screaming in pain and begging not to be shocked again with a Taser. With each scream and cry, the officer threatened her with more shocks.

"All of it's just unreal to me. I was scared to death," Wells said in an interview with the AJC. "He kept tasing me and tasing me. My fingernails are still burned. My leg, back and my butt had a long scar on it for days."

The officer in question is Ryan Smith of the Lumpkin Police Department. Smith was called to back up an officer from the Richland Police Department because the sheriff's office in the county, Stewart, had no deputies to send.

Smith resigned as a result of the incident. The other officer involved, Tim Murphy of Richland PD, was fired for using pepper spray while trying to arrest Wells.

Their headline doesn't mention that one of them already found a new job.

Yet his former boss, Lumpkin Police Chief Steven Ogle, was shocked when he saw the video.

"I couldn’t believe it,” Ogle said. “You don’t use it [a Taser] for punitive reasons, to prod someone. It was evident it was an improper use of force. He was an excellent officer other than that incident."

Smith resigned just as Ogle started the process to fire him, the chief said. Smith now works for the Chattahoochee County Sheriff's office.

Yeah, I'm sure he was just a wonderful officer, other than this one incident where he decided to torture this woman. Digby had more.

Small Town Life In Real America:

Be very careful when you call the police to come to your home. It might not go the way you think it will. Read on...

Full transcript via CNN below the fold.

SANCHEZ: AS Jon Stewart will tell you, I have a little bit of experience with tasers. I used to be a cop beat reporter about their effectiveness, how they work, how they don't work, when they should be used.

So when someone brought this videotape to me today, I thought it disturbing. Let me tell you what we're talking about. Janice Wells is a 57-year-old school teacher in Georgia, all right? A couple of months ago she calls 911. She's calling the police because she wants the police to come and help her because she says there may be an intruder in her house. The officer shows up and he sees Janice with a man next to her. he assumes that man is the bad guy. So they start demanding that Janice tell them all this information about this man. Janice says I don't need to tell you any information about this man. He has nothing to do with why I called.

Suddenly police turn on her. They chase her around the yard and then finally catch her and they start to arrest her for obstructing justice in her own house. During the arrest, they start pepper spraying her and call for backup.

When the next officer shows up, that's when it gets weird. They start tasing her repeatedly. I'm going to take you through this. But first, let's just watch it together, and then I'll bring in Andy Hill, one of my favorite police officer experts on the other side of this. Ready? Dan, let's watch it.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get in the car!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, god, oh, god.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get in the car, get in the car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm getting in. I'm getting in. I'm gelling. .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get in the car. Get in the car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, I ain't did nothing. I ain't did anything nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to get it again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't do that! Don't do that! Don't do that!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, I'm going to put you --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I ain't done nothing. Oh, stop! Stop!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help me! Larry, help me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go ahead and get in the car and we'll talk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead and get in the car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let him cuff you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't do nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll talk about it when we get up to the station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know, we'll talk about it when we get to the station.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just called him because I wanted him -- ask John to leave. Larry, help me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is he now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I asked her a question and she said I don't want to tell you nothing. I said you can go to jail then.


SANCHEZ: So you saw what the police did when they arrived on the scene. I want to bring in Andy Hill now, the retired police officer with the Phoenix police department.

Andy, first of all, let me share with you some new information. One of those officers has been suspended and the other has been fired. I think you would agree they should probably have been suspended and fired, if not both fired at this point, right?

ANDY HILL, RETIRED POLICE OFFICER, PHOENIX POLICE DEPARTMENT: Not only that, but I'm sure depending upon what the internal investigations could show, there might be cause to look into some criminal charges if she was restrained already when she was tased. That's a tough one.

SANCHEZ: I can't understand why it is -- and look, I know I love you guys and my brother is a police officer. You and I have had a long relationship talking about things like this on the air. I have other police officer friends.

But I don't understand why it's so hard for police department in the United States to teach their officers that these tasers are not toys. They're not going to be used like flashlights, that they have an effect. And that they're supposed to be used for compliance, to warn people that you'll use if they stop doing something or if they don't do something, not to start tasing someone and then start making demands of them. That just doesn't make any sense, Andy.

HILL: That's almost like retribution. What's inside that taser tells you how long the duration the trigger is pulled, how many times. It's very helpful in investigations.

SANCHEZ: Hold on, I want to show you something. I watched this thing with my staff a couple of times. Watch at the beginning where the officer shows up and he starts making demands, and he's asking her to do stuff while he's tasing her.

And he continues doing it for, I counted eight seconds which I learned at the police academy when I spent some time there is about four seconds more than you're supposed to do. Let's watch it together. Here it is.




SANCHEZ: You hear that. You hear that? That's the tase. And it was going all throughout at the beginning. And now he starts again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to get it again. You're going to get it again. All right.


SANCHEZ: And there he goes.

HILL: If I can make a couple of comments here.

SANCHEZ: I'm sorry, go ahead.

HILL: Number one, the first officer who was alone, he was obviously in a fight because when that second officer gets there, that first officer is holding his back. He's obviously tired. He's had some kind of thing happen.

The second officer comes out of the car with that taser in his hand ready to go. He doesn't even know the situation. All he heard when I read what was in the paper was he could tell by the officer's voice that he was tired, maybe had a fight.

But he came out with a taser in hand. He was ready to use it in his hand. And he goes over behind the car. I don't even know if he knew what that person looked like before he got there. And then the way it was deployed, absolutely wrong.

SANCHEZ: The point to be made, because there's a lot of good police officers out there and sometimes it's not all their fault. I hate to say this, but there are some police departments out there who aren't training these guys properly on this. And sometimes they go out there confused not knowing how to use this for compliance.

So do us a favor, tell us what this officer did wrong, and if you could take a few moments just to explain how you're supposed to do this.

HILL: Absolutely. First of all, the company taser makes it clear how that's supposed to be used. What you cannot do is allow your people to go out there and use it other than the way they're supposed to.

And let's also clarify. I don't know if there was an internal investigation or if there was ever demonstrated that a law was broken. Even if there had been some law in Georgia that this woman had broken, and I don't even --

SANCHEZ: She called police!

HILL: And plus, there was something in that officer's report that he tried to indicate there was might be a domestic violence situation. He didn't worry about the guy, because he said he could go arrest him, but when the woman wouldn't tell him who he was, he arrested her. It doesn't make sense.

Can you help us out?

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