Pennsylvania Officer Tases Suspect in the Back Because He Didn't Cross His Ankles Quickly Enough

"Oh come on, bruh. You're really going to tase him? He was sitting down. That's crazy. That's why I record everything."


A Pennsylvania police officer tased a sitting suspect in the back, and video of the incident is going viral.

A Facebook video shows a man since identified as Sean Williams, 27, on a sidewalk as a Lancaster police officer, identified as Philip Bernot, gives him instructions to sit on the curb.

Bernot can be seen pointing his Electronic Control Device (ECD) towards Williams while he speaks. Bernot tells Williams to put his legs "straight out," which he does. Bernot then tells Williams to cross his ankles. As Williams begins to pull his legs back, Bernot, who is standing behind the seated man, shoots his ECD into Williams' back.

"Oh come on, bruh. You're really going to tase him? He was sitting down," shouts the bystander who captured the incident on camera. "That's crazy. That's why I record everything."

Lancaster Mayor Danene responded to the incident after the video circulated. Sorace said in her own Facebook video that she was "upset" by the initial video. She went on to say that the use of force was taken "very seriously" and announced an investigation was underway. Sorace also mentioned communication with civil rights groups and confirmed her support for a body camera initiative.

A report from the Lancaster police offers one explanation for the events leading up to the tasing. An Officer Mazzante responded to an initial call in the area about a disturbance. The caller accused Williams of going after them on the street. Mazzante came across a group fitting the caller's description and told Williams to sit down after he repeatedly told one of the females in the group that he wanted his Social Security card.

Mazzante repeated her instructions "several times" before Bernot took over. The subsequent events were captured on video and posted online.

Emergency medical services followed protocol by performing a check on Williams. Officers took him into custody after finding an outstanding warrant, which charges were listed as "Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCP) and Public Drunkeness." He was later released on a $5,000 bail.

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    1. Good people don’t get arrested.

      1. Chipper Morning Baculu: “Good people don’t get arrested.”

        Tell that to the toddlers being taken from their parents at the border and interned in concentration camps.

        1. And all we have to do is control our borders better and these poor children will not be separated from their parents.

        2. New around here? Might want to re-calibrate your sarcometer.

  1. Airplanes don’t have arms.

    1. You can’t hug the police with nuclear arms.

      1. Might be worth trying…
        [no woodchippers were harmed in crafting or presenting this strictly hypothetical remark]

    2. No, airplanes don’t have arms.

      But if your six year old didn’t understand “Stick your arms out like an airplane” you’d worry that he was retarded.

  2. Lancaster Mayor Danene responded to the incident after the video circulated.

    Total power move calling the mayor by her first name. I applaud it.

  3. Tasers are for the most part used by law enforcement not for defense but as a compliance tool. I am surprised there would any push back on this by Lancaster’s government.

    1. No, but a large portion of the local residents are the type that would love to have an excuse to take it to the streets to do some proper virtue signalling. I’d imagine the mayor would like to avoid that if possible.

    2. If you noticed, the Taser was identified in the article as an ECD (Electronic Control Device). It’s like a remote, but for people!

      1. Like the knout? Cat o’ nine-tails? Rack? Horsewhip? Or perhaps a quirt for driving traders away from The Temple?

  4. Cops, not the most patient people in the world, huh? I suppose that discounted moons over my hammy is not getting any warmer.

    1. Their job is to have zero tolerance for non-compliance and zero tolerance for anything that could be perceived as a threat to officer safety. Patience is one of the few things that could actually get them fired, because that means they are tolerating disobedience. Other things that could get them fired are not killing dogs and not shooting people who might be armed.

      1. Well I can empathize a little. I too get frustrated when actual work comes up when all I want to do is get to the donut shop and stuff my face.

        1. A pity you can’t do the same with a Drano bottle.

    2. This is the first time I’ve ever laughed at something Tony wrote.

  5. Cops have a sixth sense about these sorts of things, they know they’re going to find something after the fact to excuse their behavior leading up to the fact. It’s like how they can pre-emptively use self-defense by hitting a suspect before the suspect gets a chance to hit them.

    1. You might be joking; however, a local cop told me that 99 out of 100 suspects who run from the dept.’s officers are found to have run for a reason – outstanding warrant, beer or drugs in car, gun or weapon in car, stolen loot in their pockets. The 100th is a scared kid who panics because he’s out after Dad’s curfew or cause his buddies ran too.

      1. So 99% deserve to get tazed or shot in the back because they have beer, drugs, a warrant or stolen property? I’ve had 2 good friends who were cops. One was a local cop and one was an FBI agent. Had tons of fun drinking beer with these guys. But if I got pulled over by either one my first instinct would be to run.

        1. No, they don’t. But the running gets them in even more trouble, and increases their chance of getting shot, than if they obeyed the cop and took whatever “medicine” they had coming.

      2. So this guy was running? On his butt cheeks?

      3. Local cop said it. I believe it. That settles it. –Texas juror

      4. And we all know cops are completely fair and unbiased sources of information.

        Yeah, running from the cops is usually a bad idea, but it shouldn’t be a capital offense.

  6. Thank god the mayor is taking this seriously and is going to do an investigation! That will definitely solve the problem!

    1. Not to worry. The FOP union will get it totally dismissed and the officer will get a promotion.

  7. I’m shocked – shocked to find that a policeman attacked someone. Lawyer-types – is this assault, or just battery?

    1. Shocked.

      I think I see what you did there.

  8. Seems like a non-story to me.

    1. Same don’t be a criminal trying to rob people on the street. If someone is just randomly harassed by the police then a law suit should follow. This guy was trying to harass people into giving him their info to steak their identity

  9. The last silly instruction the lady cop said was “put your legs straight out and cross them now.”

    This is almost as bad as the Daniel Shaver hotel incident a few months ago where they killed a guy for being unable to kneel with his ankles crossed and crawl forward all at once. Just that in this case it was a taser instead of a killing.

    1. Indeed. And the problem is the dude followed the females instructions which… why the hell are two people telling the suspect what to do in the first place? One gives orders and the others back him/her up, and this flustercluck would likely have been avoided. The female cop should have buttoned her beak. Only after tasing did they give an order that made sense: to go face down and spread – easy to comply with and something where everybody knows they are being arrested. .

    2. The officer who killed Daniel Shaver is still walking around a free man. At some point, if the courts refuses to punish officers who basically committed a murder, I think people will start taking matters into their own hands.

    3. Clear case of excessive leniency.

  10. Deja vu. It’s another variant of the Mesa AZ ‘assured non-compliance shuffle’. What is with police that insist on extending the window [by procedure] where a suspect remains out of control by not putting the cuffs on? Rampant stupidity.

  11. Amazing is the idea the the “officer” apparently gave no consideration to the public reaction to his actions. The man was complying. He made no threatening or menacing moves toward the officer. I can see no justification for the taser use.

    With more than 1005 deaths attributed to the use of tasers, they are not harmless technology. Had the use been by a citizen done this, it would have been Assault and Battery at the least. (ok, a “shocking battery” if you will. . .)

    1. He was not complying. He ignored seven clear instructions to stick his legs out straight. When given an eighth instruction to “Put your legs out straight and cross them now !” he started crossing them without putting them out straight.

      Maybe he was just dumb, but the one thing that is absolutely clear from the video was that he was not complying.

      For the non dumb, if you start from a position of sitting down with your knees bent

      (a) putting your legs out straight makes it harder for you to jump up quickly
      (b) putting your legs out straight and crossing them makes it even harder to jump up quickly
      (c) doing what he did – beginning to cross your legs without putting them out straight makes it easier to jump up quickly, as it brings your feet under your centre of mass

      So the folk who get tased in this situation are

      (i) the dumb. Bad luck
      (ii) the not dumb who hope to take advantage of position (c)

  12. I don’t really have any compassion for someone harassing people on the street for their social security number.

    1. Oh cool so you have no compassion for a guy who’s innocent until p?r?o?v?e?n? ?g?u?i?l?t?y? the cops show up and tase him in the back while he’s sitting on the sidewalk and making no threatening moves?

  13. So… Why couldn’t one of the officers walk up to him and cuff him while the taser was trained at his back? I’ve never been arrested but do your legs have to be straight out AND crossed to get handcuffed while sitting on the sidewalk? Does this mean I can start tasing anyone I see sitting on a sidewalk or do I need to have someone else shout contradictory orders at them first? Also, I only have an iPhone 6 so I couldn’t tell- was that blonde officer that pulled up at the end hot or nah?

    1. Think about it for 9 seconds and you’ll be able to work out why the police prefer you to be in a position from which it’s hard for you to jump up and either run off or attack them.

      If it’s too hard, try it out for yourself. Sit in various positions on the ground and see how long it takes you to jump up from them.

      Having done that, get the thinking gear re-engaged and compute this question. Is it better for police standard procedure to be to get you into a position where you can’t do them physical damage, so that if you make a sudden move, they can give you another warning ? Or better to get you in a position where they have to tase you if you make a sudden move because they’ve got no more slack to cut you ? I suppose there’s a third possibly which is they could let you stand in any damn position you like so the only option they’ve go left is to shoot you. Better ?

  14. Every cop is a sick, perverted, subhuman cretinous monster.

  15. Unnecessary use of force. Lawsuit to follow. Case closed.

  16. I hear the officers say, put your legs straight out at least 6 times. He doesn’t do it.

    1. big deal, so what . tase him?

    2. He was told to cross his ankles ,he was starting to do that .He was not told leave your legs straight out and cross your ankles . and they wonder why we do not care when they are shot in the face

      1. “He was not told leave your legs straight out and cross your ankles ”

        Yes he was. The male officer told him to put his legs straight out seven times (that I could hear.) He didn’t comply.
        He remained sitting with his knees bent, in a position where he could easily spring to his feet. Which is why the officer was telling him to put his legs out straight – a position from which it takes longer to spring to your feet.

        After the seventh instruction from the male officer, the female officer said (loudly) :

        “Put your legs straight out and cross them now !”

        She said exactly what you claim she didn’t say. If you didn’t hear that instruction, go get the wax cleaned out of your ears.

        Legs straight out with your legs crossed is the (sitting) position from which it takes longest to jump up. Which is why they wanted him in that position. Instead, after declining seven clear instructions to stick his legs out straight, he then “complied” with the female officer’s command by NOT sticking his legs out straight, and crossing his legs. Which put his feet under his center of mass, making it even easier for him to jump up. Which is why he was, very properly, tased. Nothing to see here, move along. Straight to the ear doc.

        1. Translation: The Lemur here is a cop union goon selling the blue line story and talking past the sale.

  17. I respect the police but never trust them and do not care when they are shot in the face

  18. The issue isn’t how many times the cops asked him to straighten his legs and cross his ankles. They could ask 100 times. The issue is whether the level of force employed was excessive or unreasonable in effecting the arrest. Was it justified.

    Look at it this way, if the dispositive element in using force to arrest someone is grounded on how often commands by the cops are followed or not, then, he’ll, why not just shoot the person for not following those repetitious commands? We know why: any idiot would recognize that doing so, alone, would be overkill (pun intended).

    Same with a taser in similar circumstances, and in this circumstance. It’s excessive force. No one physically resisted arrest, ran away, displayed a weapon, displayed violence, or even made verbal threats. The dude was sitting down and simply not following direct, repeated commands. That’s it. Moreover, there’s some indication that he was trying to comply, if belatedly.

    If that mess, as noted, is deemed proper police procedure, I can see why police injustice is a cri de coeur.

  19. So the police should stand there for four hours giving him repeated commands to get into a safer position (from the cops point of view) while a crowd gathers ? Thereby ensuring that those cops aren’t going to be doing anything else for the next four hours ? Delay has costs. A suspect who won’t assume the position carries risks.

    It’s pretty simple. The police have a job to bring things under control and to effect their arrest as soon as, and as safely as, reasonably possible. They should not tolerate people ignoring their commands ? that just makes it more dangerous for them. And if it’s more dangerous for them, it’s more dangerous for the perp too, because there’s more danger of him doing something silly or the cops getting jumpy.

    Obey the command immediately and precisely as commanded and you won’t get hurt. If you’re unhappy about the command or your arrest, the time to get sassy about it is?..later.

    The notion that the police should hang about watching some dude ignore them is from the same school as let’s give the guy another chance after his fifth burglary. It’s not kind and merciful. It’s weak and dangerous.

    1. Translation: obey government orders, no matter how idiotic, or be tortured from behind. Dura licks, sed licks.

  20. Hang around for four hours? Who said that, besides you? I said don’t use unreasonable, excessive force-eg; a taser. Punch the guy in the head, kick his ass, hit him in the legs or ankle with your nightstick.

    But tasing was excessive, imo.

  21. See? The looter mayor described the aggression and torture as “the use of force,” not “the initiation of force.” But hey, raise your hand if you are surprised that the looters’ own prohibitionist pigs would shoot a man in the back them plant something on his person for railroading by their Hoover-Nixon Quaker kangaroo courts?
    Are they not, after all, their brothers’ keepers?

  22. I am retired LE and I really hated partners who (1) talked over me when I was giving the instructions, or (2) tazered or pepper sprayed me because they can’t aim when excited, or (3) quit paying attention to me and my suspect and went over to confront some bystander who merely said something they didn’t like, or (4) would write up their report later to say whatever they thought was the politically correct or safest thing legally for them to say.

    One good thing about police body cams is that it has really cut down on the amount of lies and mis-remembering that goes into reports. The bad thing about police body cams in big blue cities is that they almost always show the criminal class doing or admitting to a lot more crimes that could technically be charged, but that won’t be.

    Why not? For the same reason that any time cops are documented gooning someone on tape it is a great big huge headline that gets amplified and repeated over and over in the mainstream media. When typical criminal classes are shown on the street being profoundly uncooperative and disrespectful and actively or passively violent as they usually are, well, that won’t be treated as out of the ordinary at all. It may even become a hit rap video.

  23. Seems like a touch excessive force, BUT we don’t know what happened before hand either. It sounds like the guy was being non compliant for an extended period with the female cop, probably because he didn’t feel intimidated by her. Enters male cop, who gets him to somewhat behave, but not completely. This guy looked like he was either drunk/high, or maybe just a moron. I’m sure he was a total shithead, which cops have to deal with all the time.

    That said, the chick cop probably should have had her taser on the dude while the male cop cuffed him. They didn’t NEED to tase his ass.

    I think the current police training where they’re taught to be overly cautious and afraid of perps is a little silly. The fact is it is their job to risk getting fucked up once in awhile in a scuffle. They should have “risked it” in this case and just manned up and cuffed the guy, especially if he was drunk/high. I guess with a prior PCP charge, if he was hopped up on PCP, the cops might have been able to tell he was on something and been afraid to get into the thick of it with him… But still grow a pair and just go in for the cuffing. It’s why you guys get outrageous benefits and shit, because it’s a dangerous job sometimes.

  24. Difficult situation to judge. The reason police have people keep their legs in front of them (and usually crossed) while sitting down is b/c it’s very easy to get up and run in the position the suspect was in (sitting on curb but legs folded under him). Test out both positions and see which one is easier to run from.

    The police were giving good verbal commands, and the suspect was clearly not listening; but, the question is, was it enough to warrant the use of the taser?

    I do believe the use of taser (and service weapons), along with police brutality/corruption is on the rise, and it’s very troubling, but I don’t see this particular example as something extreme. There are plenty of examples of blatant abuse, I don’t think this video fits that definition though. Just my opinion.

  25. Where’s Jimmy Malone when we need him? “Here endeth the lesson.”

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