It was Nov. 26 when 35-year-old Elizabeth Beeland of Ormond Beach stopped at the store to purchase a CD player for her father, she told The Daytona Beach News-Journal before refusing to speak more about the incident.
Beeland’s shopping trip ended up with a ride to the Volusia County Branch Jail, charged with two misdemeanors — one for disorderly conduct and the other for resisting a police officer without violence.
In a report police are required to prepare after deploying their Tasers, Officer Claudia Wright said she used her weapon on Beeland because the woman was “verbally profane, abusive, loud and irate.” Beeland pointed her finger “towards my face” and was waving her arms, the officer wrote.
But is that against the law? And is yelling at a cop considered enough resistance to merit the use of a Taser?
According to an American Civil Liberties Union representative in Orlando, yelling at a police officer and even cussing one out is constitutionally protected speech. And both the ACLU and Amnesty International USA say this incident likely could have been handled differently, adding that Taser use has become too casual and too common among police officers.
Police Chief Mike Chitwood said if a Taser had not been available, his officer likely would have used other weapons to subdue Beeland.
“I was never raised on Tasers,” the chief said. “I used nightsticks and slapjacks.”
Police Department policy states an officer can deploy his or her Taser “for the purpose of subduing a violent, noncompliant or combative subject.”
Another section titled “Use of Force,” says the Taser may be deployed when an officer believes the person presents a threat to the officer or to others “in the event that lesser force options are ineffective.” The Taser also should be deployed to prevent the escape of a “criminal suspect,” and when a “subject actively resists arrest or detention by violence or threat of violence.”
Beeland, although not compliant, was not acting violently, according to the officer’s report. However, Chitwood said his officer had been flagged down under the assumption Beeland may have stolen a credit card.
The fact Wright said Beeland refused to comply only further fueled the situation, Chitwood said.
“The fact that she (Beeland) was resisting and not following commands being given by a uniformed officer, that means that officer eventually was going to get hurt,” Chitwood said. “Claudia Wright did not wake up that morning and say, ‘I think I want to tase someone today.’
“The woman’s actions caused this to happen,” the chief said.
“I was never raised on Tasers… . I used nightsticks and slapjacks.”
“Beeland, although not compliant, was not acting violently”
“The fact Wright said Beeland refused to comply only further fueled the situation”.
“The woman’s actions caused this to happen.”
Compliance, not safety.
h/t pale via IM.
Related: Here in Canada, journalists have also recently been expected to comply with demands for obedience from local law enforcement officials, else reap the consequences.
Compliance, not safety.
h/t Berlynn @ Bread and Roses