Tuesday, January 01, 2008

35-Year-Old Woman Tasered In Front Of Customers At Best Buy - News Story - WFTV Orlando

35-Year-Old Woman Tasered In Front Of Customers At Best Buy - News Story - WFTV Orlando: "'The woman is repeatedly told to cease and desist her conduct and activities. As the officer is trying to approach her, you can see her throw her hands up and her arms flailing. The taser is designed for incidents like that,' Chitwood said."

There are several videos that I could have embedded here; this one seems to be the best in terms of clearly showing the incident, as well as preserving a particularly astonishingly authoritarian statement by the Daytona Police Chief in defense of what is pretty clearly an indefensible use of force.

The next video includes direct and even-handed analysis by Cop Watch activist George Crossley.

After reviewing the cop-watch blog, I have come to believe that despite obvious "left of center" associations, they are scrupulously fair about this effort.

In other words, I don't think this is a source you should automatically discount, even if you reflexively disbelieve "liberal" sources.

Besides, a camera is not a "liberal" or "conservative" source. It's very clear in the video that the officer initiated and esculated a confrontation; while the suspect may well have been loud and profane, she never once touched or physically resisted the officer. While the Chief of police attributes the entire incident to "a lack of respect" on the part of the woman, it's pretty clear that no such respect for the civilian was on offer, so my response to both the officer and the chief is "sit on it and rotate."

Oh, and I do hope this one goes to a jury of your civilian peers.

Despite the charges laid against the "suspect," Elizabeth Beeland, it seems fairly clear to me that this is in fact a case of assault by an officer on a civilian. It's also quite clear from the video that the officer spent no time whatsoever attempting to assess or investigate the situation before - quite literally - throwing her weight around. See for yourself how very few seconds transpire between confrontation and tasering.

Her first response was to intimidate Beeland, it's pretty clear that the officer was uninterested in any response other than immediate submission to her authority.

In other words, the cop made the disastrously unwarranted assumption that Beeland was "a perp," even though Beeland had not behaved as a person fleeing arrest would have - continue to her car and flee. And needless to say, as it was her card, and she was distraught due to perfectly reasonable circumstances, it was entirely predictable that she would be both upset and confused.

Of course, one of the many hollow-sounding justifications for this incident is that Beeland was "disrupting business," and that may well be the real reason for this chain of events.

I have been unable to find any evidence of a statement on behalf of Best Buy regarding this incident, or what they might do to prevent such issues in the future, but customer relations do not seem to be a high priority with the firm., despite slickly produced protestations promises of Corporate Responsibility.

In the absence of any reassurance to concerned potential customers, I think it wise to assume that this is as much a product of store policy (though possibly that of a local or regional manager) as it is a matter of evident police over-reaction.

In particular, I would like to know exactly what the clerk said to the cop that may have predisposed her to such a precipitous and reckless use of force. In hopes of learning this and whatever else Best Buy might have to say about this incident, I've forwarded this story to NewsCenter@bestbuy.com, their public relations contact address.

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1 comment:

cyregray said...

Thanks for the post. Personally I hadn't heard of this particular incent, though it does seem tasering, and police-violence in general has been escalating.

There's also this immediate 'need to respond' vibe being thrown around by 'the authorities'. So whether we have a distraught traveler, up set customer, or loud protestor the response is to subdue using force.

As an american who despises the use of violence this really makes me nervous.


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