Horrifying videos of police tasering people are finding their way onto the internet with alarming frequency as of late. This one from Utah has caused quite a stir:
It’s just awful to see the taser take the place of physical force, which would have been perfectly sufficient in this case. It’s a torture device and it should never be used unless the officer perceives a direct threat to his personal safety.
While we don’t condone the officer’s handling of the incident, there are a few lessons to be learned from the suspect’s poor handling of the situation:
1. Arguing over a ticket at the scene of the traffic stop is not in your interest. Deal with it in traffic court.
2. Signing a “promise to appear” simply means you agree to appear in traffic court or pay the fine. It’s not an admission of guilt and refusing to sign it can get you arrested. Always read police documents before signing them, but don’t get angry over a speeding ticket even if it’s undeserved.
3. When told to place your hands behind your back do it immediately. Anything else you do could be considered resisting. The validity of the arrest can only be addressed in court, and you’re more likely to get the outcome you want if remained quiet and calm.
4. NEVER inform the officer of your intention to sue him for excessive force or other forms of misconduct. The officer will prepare a story and the video evidence might even disappear. The officer should not find out about your suit until the papers have been served.
5. Don’t demand to have your rights read to you. The officer will only read you your rights if you are going to be interrogated, which will not be the case for a traffic violation and most other arrests. You should already know your rights. Telling police how to do their job just pisses them off more, thereby strengthening their resolve to make sure the charges stick to you.
Our advice to remain calm during police encounters has nothing to do with your guilt or innocence. The fact of the matter is that people who lose control of their emotions get worse outcomes. As police around the country go increasingly taser-crazy, it becomes that much more important to know your rights and make smart choices in tough situations.