Police

90-pound Ohio Woman Who Was Tasered by Police Files Federal Lawsuit

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Akron college student Chelsea Garrett, 23, told Fox 8 Cleveland that footage of her reckless driving last November 5 is disturbing. "I would never deny that, I was scared watching the video, seeing myself drive like that, " she said. But Garrett, a diabetic who media describe as 5'2 and 90 pounds, was disoriented (worsened, she says, by some cold medicine) that day. When Stow, Ohio police pulled her over after she caused an accident, left the scene, then almost clipped a police cruiser, Garrett left her car and approached Officer Jesse Reedy. He Tasered her at least twice, after initially knocking her backwards onto the ground. Garrett describes it as Reedy having "punched her in the chest" with the Taser, which may or may not be accurate. However, you can see Reedy knocking her down in dashcam footage that is just slightly out of frame.

Now Garrett, who pled guilty to "reckless operation," is suing the Stow police for brutality in federal court.

According to Patch.com, Reedy, a four and a half year veteran of the Stow police force, and who was cleared of any wrong-doing in December:

told the Use of Force committee (made up of three Stow officers), initially it did not seem like the woman was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or in diabetic shock. 

"Yeah, someone that size is not so much really that I think that she is a huge threat, but I realize that she can still hurt me, she can bite me, she can scratch me," said Reedy during an interview with the Use of Force Committee. "She knew what I was saying and she just didn't care … she didn't want to listen to it."

Further description from the official police summary mostly matches the video, Garrett:

"almost immediately opened her driver's side door upon being stopped and sat in her vehicle for 12 seconds. She then exited her vehicle and stood next to the driver's door for 35 seconds. She looked back into her vehicle three separate times."

Before shocking Garrett, who according to the report was "staggering," Reedy drew his weapon out when she got out of the car and then drew out his Taser while giving verbal commands. 

The officer said he initially pushed Garrett to the ground instead of shocking her when she approached him because of her size, but after repeatedly not listening to his orders, he used the Taser, it says in the report.

Because Reedy gave verbal commands that were not obeyed and because the woman got out of the car and approached the officer which could be a threat, the committee ruled that Reedy handled the situation properly.

"If an officer perceives a threat through the totality of circumstances, he/she does not have to wait until they are harmed to deploy the Taser," the committee said in its ruling.

Except there's clearly something wrong with Garrett. She doesn't look falling-down inebriated, but she definitely looks hesitant and confused in the dashcam footage. Her movements are odd and when she's on the ground, her struggling with Reedy looks pretty feeble. In her lawsuit, Garrett says she was Tasered a third time while handcuffed. She says police could have just handcuffed her and her goal with filing a lawsuit is to change the policies for Taser usage. 

Not very much happened to Garrett and she certainly faired better than Allen Kephart or any of the 500 other people in the U.S. since 2001 whose deaths are associated with Tasers. But Tasers seem to be most likely to go from less-than-lethal to lethal when used on suspects who are drunk, on drugs, or disoriented, (that is to say, not in a state to listen to police commands)  so that's all the more reason to be extremely cautious with their usage.

(Hat tip to commenter rather)

Reason on police and Tasers, including Reason.tv's latest "Who's Lethal? Police or Tasers"