Murder charge dropped against cop who shot Taser-wielding black man in back as he fled arrest

If anyone wants to hear the walk through of how this decision was reached based primarily on the video, it’s in the second half of this podcast (past the digital divide stuff):

:woman_shrugging:

Lots of people are disappointed here, to say the least.

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Fuck right off with that shit!

stop fuck off GIF

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“It’s lethal! It’s non-lethal! It’s lethal! It’s non-lethal…”

FFS.

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Yeah, Taser is certainly non-lethal. Cops do have training to avoid getting the two prongs to cross the heart, but that still happens and it’s very rarely fatal. The major danger of Tasers is use around flammable vapors (gasoline), which it certainly can ignite. Don’t use a Taser in a gas station. But that’s not the issue here.

Edit: I haven’t checked but I assume these cops were wearing body armor, in which case a Taser would be almost useless, barring a very lucky shot that got both prongs in the leg, for example. I guess it would be quite unpleasant to be hit in the face with Taser prongs, and that could cause serious injury.

I expect the Biden administration to bring federal civil rights charges in this case.

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“…with Liberty and Justice for Some.”

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After the George Floyd protests, it looked like the impossible had happened and the tide had finally started to turn towards at least a handful of murderous cops being punished for their actions. But America has the collective memory of a goldfish and now it’s already sliding back towards business as usual.

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Now, though, the Special Prosecutor assigned to the case says it’s “objectively reasonable” to shoot a fleeing suspect in the back—because the Taser he wielded was a lethal weapon.

Ahem…

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Tasers when cops use them: Non-lethal, and super ethical - if you die from your zap it’s your fault for, like being on drugs or having a heart condition or something.

Tasers when a target-of-cops has one: A death-dealing super-weapon that necessitates immediate and extrajudicial execution.

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Here’s the text of a change.org petition that just dropped into my inbox in the UK.

My youngest brother, Marc Cole 30, a Dad to two little boys, had been battling with the debilitating symptoms of a severe brain condition and a recent bereavement, when he had an acute mental health crisis while visiting a friend’s home.

Marc needed urgent medical assistance and a compassionate response. Instead Marc was repeatedly tasered by police when he was terrified and confused. Marc never made it home to his children - he had a cardiac arrest and died on the pavement.

Tasers Kill and they are being disproportionately used to target people who are experiencing mental health issues. We are demanding that the Police use of these lethal weapons be banned.

People experiencing Mental health issues are at a greater risk of Cardiac arrest after being shot with a taser. Tasers cause extreme and agonising pain, loss of cognitive function and fatal cardiac arrythmias.

Following the Inquest into Marc’s death, a Coroner wrote a Prevention of Future Deaths report calling on a wholesale review of the effects of multiple taser electrocution activations and prolonged taser electrocution on vulnerable people. This review was never acted upon.

We want to ensure that the protections set out in the United Nations (UN) convention against Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment (CAT) are made a reality for those people at their most vulnerable. Everyone has a right to life and mental ill health should never be a death sentence.

Lack of Stringent Regulation around the use of tasers in the UK and a lack of Police officer accountability has led to the barbaric and avoidable deaths of many vulnerable young people in mental health crisis.

We want safe policing for everyone, including vulnerable people.

We need your help to stop another senseless tragedy happening again. Add your voice, It matters.

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They’re “less-lethal” not non-lethal.
If I use a weapon against you, and there’s a chance it can kill you, its definitely lethal.

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“When I do it, it is non-lethal!”

image

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It is approved by a professor!

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I was the one who said in this thread, “Taser is certainly non-lethal.”

I did link the to Wiki article on Taser safety issues which highlights the risks. I should have said it more pedantically, it’s rarely lethal when used by trained police. But there are deaths and serious injuries. I highly recommend reading the Wiki article to get some perspective on it. I also found an academic paper investigating how many deaths and what the risk factors are.

I guess they should be called “less lethal”. All less-lethal weapons have some fatality rate.

Resisting arrest is dangerous for everyone. Either we make being arrested voluntary, or police are going to have to use force sometimes and some people will get hurt. I’m cool with trying out what happens to make arrest voluntary, or make the police disarmed and have them only able to use verbal skills, or stop using police entirely. All of that would be interesting to try out. I hope some city or state tries it, just hopefully not my city or state.

But to the point of this original thread - did the suspect having the cops’ Taser create a lethal threat to the police? Perhaps. A head shot with a Taser could be quite a serious injury. If a probe hits an eye, that eye would be gone, that’s for sure. Probes across the heart have a small chance of being lethal, but the cops (I assume) were wearing vests, so that’s impossible.

The thing they were likely really afraid of is being incapacitated and at the mercy of this criminal. But is that an imminent danger, or a hypothetical danger? I have no answer. Obviously the prosecutor thought that a jury would think that’s a reasonable fear. That’s what juries are for - to make decisions about subjective issues like, “what is a reasonable fear”. Clearly on this thread there are a range of opinions on if it’s reasonable or not, and a real jury could spend weeks listening to evidence and arguments, and then could spend even more time deliberating to reach a decision.

Remember, use of lethal force in self defense requires a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm. For non-cops, it also must be a situation that the defender didn’t create. Cops have a different version of that rule, because their job is to get into dangerous situations.

So is the risk of being incapacitated equal to a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm? I think it’s a gray area.

A whole lot of weapons have some chance of being lethal. A 12" wooden stick might be lethal. But for a defender to use deadly force, the question is, is this a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm? For weapons like a gun or a knife, obviously yes. For weapons like a ripe banana, obviously no, even though there is some tiny non-zero chance of death I guess. For a whole range of weapons like Tasers, a strong punch with a fist, a stick, etc etc… they are in between and it becomes somewhat subjective what is reasonable. Btw, there was at least one murder committed by a bagel. The jury decide that, in that situation, the bagel was indeed a lethal weapon. Sorry, it’s not a clear answer and it depends strongly on the totality of the situation!

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Given that it is the prosecutors’ job to make the defendant look bad, they are going to frame the reasonableness of the cops’ fear very differently than the defense lawyer would. The police are so often framed as being in “reasonable” fear that it seems like they couldn’t be asked to get a cat out of a wet paper bag. If they knew the taser was “unloaded”, then claiming they were afraid of it is bogus. Not to mention that a fleeing person is going to have a hard time shooting the people behind him.

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My answer is…he was shot in the back. He was running away.

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And now you say ‘less lethal’. Well, it’s a start.

Either you think it is worth trying or you don’t. Given the statement above, I suspect you don’t, really.

Did you read the thread? Did you read the comment by @knoxblox with the link to the key detail stated right there in the one-box? (My bold below.)

A key detail: Fulton County DA Paul Howard says former officer Garrett Rolfe knew that the taser Rayshard Brooks was holding had been fired twice and didn’t pose any danger to the officers when Brooks turned and tried to fire it at officers before Rolfe shot Brooks in the back.

So all of those possibilities you list were not only impossible, they were known to be impossible.

I do have an answer: there was no danger at all, either imminent or hypothetical!

That’s right, it’s not.

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episode 8 bullshit GIF by RuPaul's Drag Race

It’s CLEARLY more dangerous for some people than others.

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