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A federal appeals court says three Seattle police officers did not employ excessive force when they repeatedly tasered a visibly pregnant woman for refusing to sign a speeding ticket.
The lawyer representing Malaika Brooks said Monday that the court’s 2-1 decision sanctioned “pain compliance” tactics through a modern-day version of the cattle prod.
“To inflict pain on a person if that person is not doing what the police want that person to do is simply outrageous,” said Eric Zubel, the woman’s attorney. “I cannot say that loud enough.”
Zubel said he would ask the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear Friday’s 2-1 decision that drew a sharp dissent from Judge Marsha Berzon:
“Refusing to sign a speeding ticket was at the time a nonarrestable misdemeanor; now, in Washington, it is not even that. Brooks had no weapons and had not harmed or threatened to harm a soul,” (.pdf) Berzon wrote. “Although she had told the officers she was seven months pregnant, they proceeded to use a Taser on her, not once but three times, causing her to scream with pain and leaving burn marks and permanent scars.”
The majority noted that the M26 Taser was set in “stun mode” and did not cause as much pain as when set on “dart mode.” The majority noted that the circuit’s recent and leading decision on the issue concerned excessive force in the context of a Taser being set on Dart mode, which causes “neuro-muscular incapacitation.”
Stun mode, the court noted, didn’t rise to the level of excessive force because it imposes “temporary, localized pain only.”
Imagine my shock.
We need a more authoritative world. We’ve become a sort of cheeky, egalitarian world where everyone can have their say. It’s all very well, but there are certain circumstances – a war is a typical example – where you can’t do that. You’ve got to have a few people with authority who you trust who are running it. And they should be very accountable too, of course.
But it can’t happen in a modern democracy. This is one of the problems. What’s the alternative to democracy? There isn’t one. But even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.
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