Recent decision concerning excessive force by the police using a taser against a bystander, Donald Gravelet-Blondin.
Here’s the background:
Donald and Kristi Gravelet-Blondin stepped outside in slippers one May night in 2008 in Snohomish, Wash., to find out what was going on at their neighbor Jack’s house. The police were trying to get Jack out of his car, which, in an apparent suicide attempt, had a hose running from the exhaust pipe into one of its windows. Jack reportedly had a gun, and when he refused to show his hands after turning off the car, officers moved to put him in handcuffs, Tasing him twice.
The Blondins got within about 37 feet of the scene, heard Jack moaning and saw him pinned on the ground. Donald Blondin said, “What are you doing to Jack?” and faced a barrage of orders to get back. When he didn’t move, or didn’t move enough, Sgt. Jeff Shelton rushed him with Taser drawn.
A witness said that Blondin seemed to be “frozen with fear.” Shelton warned Blondin that he was about to be Tased, but fired before he finished saying it, according to the ruling.
“Sgt. Shelton tased Blondin in dart mode, knocking him down and causing excruciating pain, paralysis, and loss of muscle control,” the ruling states. “Blondin, disoriented and weak, began to hyperventilate. Sgt. Shelton asked Blondin if he ‘want[ed] it again’ before turning to Ms. Blondin and warning, ‘You’re next.’”
Blondin was later charged with obstructing a police officer, but the case was dropped. The Blondins then sued the city of Snohomish and Shelton for excessive force, unlawful arrest and various violations of state law, including common-law outrage for causing a wife to watch her husband being shot with a Taser.
The lower court threw out the Blondins’ lawsuit, saying the officer was “immune” from suit in these circumstances. The appeals court says the lower court erred. That does not mean the Blondins “won.” It means the case will proceed to trial. The lower court, to repeat, thought the police conduct was so obviously right, that the case did not even have to go to a jury.
The court ruling is here.
Video from California Highway Patrol here.
So much wrong here. The entire encounter with the police seems dubious. The use of the taser was unnecessary and excessive.
Some like to point out that the prisons are not filled with marijuana users. True, but what’s hard to see are the countless injustices that go on because marijuana is illegal. Ms. Jones was fearful of a search of her purse, which contained some marijuana. If marijuana were legal, she would not have been concerned and this tragic incident would not have happened.
Recall that the rationale behind the criminalization of marijuana is to protect people: keep them healthy and safe. More and more people are recognizing that the war on drugs makes things worse, not better.
KIRO TV’s investigative unit has discovered Tacoma police used force to arrest and handcuff an innocent deaf woman after she called 911 for their help.
Instead of an apology, she ended up bloody and in jail for nearly three days without an interpreter before a prosecutor declined to press charges.
After months of digging, investigative reporter Chris Halsne found significant discrepancies in the official police version of events leading up to Lashonn White’s arrest.
Late in the evening on April 6, White said she called for police assistance after a guest reportedly attacked her in her own apartment.
Deaf since birth, White used a special video-equipped phone, connected to a TV and a Web camera, to call 911. A certified American Sign Language interpreter on the other end verbally relayed White’s pleas for help to a Tacoma police dispatcher.
“I said, ‘Please hurry! There’s a person here beating me up,’” White explained to Halsne during a television interview last month.
A recording of White’s 911 call from that evening reveals her urgency.
“Right now! This is serious!”
“She’s fighting at me, then she chokes me. She’s coming right at me!”
Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) logs show Tacoma police officer Ryan Koskovich and his partner, Michael Young, were outside White’s apartment complex in about six minutes.
It also reflects that officers received texts along the way stating, “Person doing the hitting is a Sophia” and “Vict. is Lashonn White.”
In addition, it appears from internal police records obtained by KIRO Team 7 Investigators, Koskovich and his partner were repeatedly given information that the victim could not hear a thing.
On the 911 calls, White herself made it perfectly clear.
“I’m deaf. I can’t hear if they’re out front knocking or whatever … I can’t—are they going to the front or back? Where are the police at?”
Dispatch: “They want her to go outside the front door.”
“Oh, they’re here? Okay, I’m on my way to meet them. I’m going right now.”
White showed our investigative team the route up to the front door from her basement apartment. It’s only one flight of stairs — a 30-second trip.
To her, what happened next defies common sense — especially, for a woman with no criminal record, no arrests and just one minor driving violation on her record.
Within seconds of running outside to meet police, Officer Koskovich pulled his Taser and fired a two-barbed electric wire into White’s ribs and stomach.
“All I’m doing is waving my hands in the air, and the next thing I know, I’m on the ground and then handcuffed. It was almost like I blacked out. I was so dizzy and disoriented,” White said.
Witnesses said White began bleeding heavily from her knuckles and the right side of her face swelled up immediately after she hit the pavement following the Taser jolt.
Pictures acquired by Team 7 Investigators also show injuries to her cheek, chin, ribs, neck and arms.
Worse yet to White was the incredible confusion that came with suddenly being handcuffed, under arrest and without the ability to communicate with Tacoma officers, who had no sign language skills.
“The next thing I know, they took me to jail. Told me to stand up, you’re going to jail. I said, ‘What? What have I done?’ I couldn’t figure it out. I had no idea what was going on,” said White.
Officer Koskovich and his partner submitted nearly identical descriptions of the arrest in their reports.
Koskovich wrote in part: “I yelled for White to ‘stop’ and held my right hand up to signal for White to stop. White ignored my commands.” …
Team 7 Investigators canvassed the area near the Taser incident for witnesses because Koskovich and White’s stories are so vastly different.
Margaret Sims’s apartment is right over the spot where White fell to the ground after being tased. She said it was around 11:30 at night and dark, but she heard Lashonn screaming in pain and ran to the balcony.
“I hollered down and said, ‘She’s deaf and can’t speak!’”
Sims says she went down to the street and spoke with officers while Lashonn was still in handcuffs. She told us during an on-camera interview that the police officers at the scene admitted there was a misunderstanding.
From the Orlando Sentinel:
Officials stood by two Casselberry officers who tased a man three times after he refused to show them his identification.
“They followed procedure. They followed the law,” spokeswoman Sara Brady said Thursday.
Zikomo Peurifoy, 25, of Casselberry was riding his bicycle Saturday at 5:14 p.m. across State Road 436 with Noelle Price, 27, of Casselberry when they were stopped by two officers who said they were jaywalking.
Saying he did nothing wrong, he accused the officers of making a false arrest, police said.
After his continued denial, one officer tased Peurifoy several times. When he was finally subdued, the arrest affidavit says, the officers searched him and found a loaded handgun on his waistband that “was easily accessible at any time during our encounter.”
Peurifoy had a permit for the weapon and never reached for it in the tussle. Police said Price had a small knife, brass knuckles and an unloaded gun, found when the two were brought to the Seminole County Jail.
Police officers must get used to people complying with their requests day in and day out–so some officers overreact when they encounter a citizen who just refuses, say, a request for ID. This appears to be a outrageous overreaction by the police–indeed a crime.
For additional background on identification demands by the police, go here and here. Also, check out the Know Your Rights video featured on the home page above. Btw, it’s always a good day to blast that video out to friends, message boards, etc — so please remember that.
A case of disorderly conduct and trespass (she refused to leave), but was it really necessary to pepper spray and tase the woman?