Mother Tased, Arrested in Front of Kids After Traffic Stop

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Full story here. The cop says he tased and arrested her because when she got out of her car, she was blocking traffic and creating a dangerous situation. But when she gets back into the car, he then pulls her back out and throws her down in the middle of the street.

Note too that the though the cop pulled her over for using a cell phone, she was able to prove she didn’t have one. So he wrote her a ticket for going 5 MPH over the speed limit—a figure he calculated without use of radar. I can understand those who say she should have gotten back in her car after the cop instructed her to do so. But I can also understand her anger, and her desire to see the video to prove she wasn’t speeding. The speeding ticket for a paltry 5 mph over seems retaliatory.

She ended up with four tickets, for speeding, talking on a cell phone while driving, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. All of those charges were dropped after prosecutors viewed the video.

Curious to know what the “shut up and do as your told” crowd thinks of this. Should the woman have just accepted the cell phone ticket and not attempted to prove she didn’t have one? Should she have just accepted the speeding ticket that seemed to be retaliation for proving her innocence with the cell phone? Why should she have to endure the hassle of obtaining the dash video and wasting her time in traffic court to prove her innocence? Was the cop right to taser and arrest her? What should happen to him?

In yesterday’s Washington Post, Colbert King relayed another story of a police power play during a traffic stop.

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79 Responses to “Mother Tased, Arrested in Front of Kids After Traffic Stop”

  1. #1 |  Uno Hu | 

    The above situation is an “educational opportunity” for all who take the time to read it thoroughly. What should one learn from it?

    Full disclosure provisions – no, I’m not a LEO, never have been, and don’t even play one on TV.

    (1) On the side of the road, the LEO is always right; you try to disprove that at your own risk.

    (2) The LEO is armed, always; most citizens aren’t. (IF you are armed on your person or in the car, advise the LEO immediately/early in the encounter and show him your carry license with your drivers license; you don’t want him finding your weapon by surprise later and being frightened. (Seriously frightening an LEO, especially one who may be somewhat cowardly inside, is an even better way to get shot than committing contempt of cop.) If the LEO resorts to force of arms (lethal = gun; non-lethal = taser or stick) his use of force including, lethal force, will be excused in almost all situations. If you are so improvident as to attempt to use force in any fashion, even against what you firmly believe (and that actually turns out to be) an unlawful arrest, it will be be met with overwhelming force. If you escalate a situation to the point where you are at risk of death or serious bodily injury and you respond with lethal force, even to protect yourself, YOU WILL EITHER BE KILLED ON THE SPOT OR YOU WILL BE TRIED AND ALMOST SURELY CONVICTED of murder. (Remember that you will be dealing with an individual much more highly trained and more recently practiced in the application of force and deadly force than most citizens are ever likely to be.)

    (3) While in many ways dear to libertarians, the above facts (and they are facts) are distasteful, it pretty much has to be that way to keep the small criminal element from running over the police force.

    (4) Therefore, when stopped, be pleasant and do everything possible to put the LEO at ease: stay in the car, put your hands on the steering wheel where he can see them, turn on your overhead light at night, follow instructions, and sign the ticket (the signature simply confirms to the “system” that you in fact received the ticket; it is not a plea). In the minority of cases where the officer is wrong, contest his error in court where you admittedly will not, in fact, be on an even footing with him, but WHERE YOU WILL BE ON A MUCH LESS UNEVEN FOOTING with him that should you choose to make your protestations on the side of the road.

    (5) Understand that you will lose most court encounters such as this for one of several reasons: (a) people come to court and lie so routinely it is asking a lot of any judge to ask him to really give your testimony the same weight as the LEO; (b) you will be telling a story and describing a situation in which you are perceived to have first-hand self-interest and the LEO will be perceived to have no or very little self-interest to bias his account of the incident; and (c) unfortunately, in some jurisdictions, you will find yourself being crushed in the gears of a revenue generating operation as surely as sugar cane is crushed in the gears of a sugar mill to make sugar!

    (6) Do not advise on the side of the road that you will contest the ticket in court. This will fix the incident in the LEO’s mind, and increase the likelihood that he will appear in court when you do; rather, ask him pleasantly who and how to make contact to find out the fine and mail it in. In every way, as the LEO drives away, your stop should be totally routine and boring and nothing about it should stand out in his mind.

    (7) If worse comes to worse and you are convicted unjustly in court, you will suffer a fine and perhaps some points on your DL/Ins. If worse comes to worse on the side of the road, your alternatives range from felony charges (and possible conviction) to getting shot!! Risk:reward analysis of these alternatives leaves, for the reaonable person, NO PLACE FOR ROADSIDE CONFRONTATIONS WITH AN LEO.

    (8) All the above does not obligate you to consent to a vehicle search in those states that consider your vehicle as your home and require a search warrant for such a search against your consent. Take the trouble to know search laws in your state and in those where you frequently travel.

  2. #2 |  Marty | 

    #51 | Uno Hu |
    ‘The above situation is an “educational opportunity” for all who take the time to read it thoroughly. What should one learn from it?’

    that we need to fight this bullshit! we need to shame these bastards! we need to pull over and observe when cops are searching/harassing other citizens! carry a camera or recording device.

    the rest of your post sucks.

  3. #3 |  BamBam | 

    Taser = lethal device, it is NOT non-lethal; even “less than lethal” implies it isn’t lethal. Getting electro-shock therapy from a taser kills some, and doesn’t kill others, just as getting shot by a bullet will kill some and not others.

  4. #4 |  Uno Hu | 

    |Marty #52|

    Please re-read points 2 & 3. These are the facts on the side of the road. I don’t love them or hate them, just acknowledge them.

    It has been my experience that those who who are the quickest to sound the clarion call to a fight are the least likely to show up for the fight when blows are really being passed.

    As to you final paragraph assessing the post – an eloquent rejoinder if ever there was one.

    If you look for hassles, you can find them. If you stop to film a traffic stop, don’t be surprised when you are joined by 3 or 4 other patrol cars, whose attention will be focused on you. Shame? Maybe. Reality? Without doubt. Enjoy the police attention you will bring upon yourself.

  5. #5 |  John L | 

    I have to agree with #51 (Uno Hu). It hurts me to do so, but the alternative is a return to the Wild West days. I agree that if we want to change this, a great way is mandating dash cams that are easily accessible by Internal Affairs and/or the District Attorney while not being accessible to the officers who staff these vehicles.

    And on the Taser thing – she should be really glad it was a Taser and not a baton or worse. The more alternatives law enforcement has before using deadly force the better.

  6. #6 |  Windy | 

    #1 tasers are NOT “non-lethal”, they are “somewhat LESS lethal”. Tasers DO kill, more often than you might be aware. Your only reasons for when the taser should be utilized are a good beginning. And your statement: “it isn’t a punishment device the cop can whip out every time he has a bad day” is something that needs to be drummed into the consciousness of EVERY police department in the country from the lowest small town dept. to the highest LE agency (FBI/DEA/ATF etc.).

    #2 Big Chief:
    I tried to give you a karma+ but I got an “Error: Try again later” message (Radley, that happens to me a lot, here on this site, what is up with that?). Your final paragraph is right on the money!

    #3 I give your first paragraph a +, the second paragraph however I must give a -, leading to no change in your karma from me.

    #14 (thorn), you make some good points, don’t know why you have neg karma, perhaps it is because (as is my first reaction) people do not like that the cops exercise their authority that way?

    #31 I also recall those days, and actually being a cop isn’t all that dangerous, anyway, 29 or 30 on the list where garbagemen and construction workers are rated higher on the dangerous list.

    #42 thanks for the url I used the button for “criminal or safety tips” — I wrote
    “I have a safety tip — Fire Sean Andrews, he’s a menace to the safety of the populace.”

    I reiterate, we MUST hold the police to a higher standard of behavior, because of the position of power over the rest of us to which we hire them.

  7. #7 |  D. Jason Fleming (djasonfleming) 's status on Monday, 17-Aug-09 22:21:44 UTC - | 

    […] […]

  8. #8 |  Gummint « Oh, My! | 

    […] you doubt me, object to a cop stopping you and see what happens. This is all of 4 days old, but directly to the point. Your local cop will tell you what DC and your state capitol thinks of […]

  9. #9 |  K. Wilson | 

    I have got to stop watching these taser videos because I get so angry at the abuse of our rights by the “authorities”.

    “Don’t tase me bro” may have seemed funny to some, but “Please don’t tase my mommy” doesn’t seem so comical.

    What a bunch of BS.

  10. #10 |  Dr X | 

    “Curious to know what the “shut up and do as your told” crowd thinks of this.”

    How about “this proves that the system works. She was innocent and the charges were dropped.”

  11. #11 |  John Spragge | 

    You guys make the laws. If you want to smack the fine=revenue paradigm, a simple and elegant change in the law will do it: the jurisdiction that collects the fine/forfeiture doesn’t get to spend it. If you break a city bylaw and get fined, the province/state gets the money. Break a provincial/state law, and the feds collect. Same for forfeitures. If you want to put an end to entrepreneurial lawmaking and enforcement, you have the power to do it.

  12. #12 |  Babar | 


    You are completely wrong on always *completely* following instructions with someone pointing a gun or taser at you and that kind of advice can actually get you killed.

    Google “Brown’s Chicken Massacre” that happened in Palatine, IL. Those people died – first and foremost because someone shot them – but also because they allowed themselves to be corralled into the freezer, and they had nowhere to run once the shooters started executing them.

    If anyone ever pulls a gun or a taser on you, and they haven’t properly identified themselves as police officers (we’ve had issues in our area of rapists impersonating officers), and they start to coral you in someway, you get the f— out of there as fast as you can and head directly to the nearest police station. And if you are in a group of people, every one picks a different direction and gets out of there. Why? Because everyone’s chances of survival goes way up when you create chaos. If someone had doubts about shooting, the shooter(s) sure aren’t going to do it once everyone takes off and they lose control of the situation. If they do start shooting, you’ve made yourself a hard target, and if you do end up getting shot and killed at least others have lived and hopefully are able ID the killer so he/she can be brought to justice. It took over 10 years to find the Brown’s chicken killers.

    If you want another example of a situation where people got corralled and executed just google “Lane Bryant Killer.” They still haven’t caught him.

    So if you are ever pulled over by a police officer you:
    1) pull over in a well lit, public area, hopefully off the main road like a very busy parking lot.
    2) Stay calm, keep you hands on the wheel, and watch the alleged officer approaches your car.
    2) Have the alleged police officer properly identify themselves. If they give you grief (like they so often do) explain you’re not trying to be an ass, just there have been cases in the past of people getting raped and killed by people impersonating officers.
    3) If you truly have a doubt, simply drive to the nearest police station, calmly.
    4) And any defense lawyer will tell you to keep you’re mouth shut and plead the 5th, even if you are innocent. The reason why cops ask you if you know why they pulled you over is because they are trying to get a confession. If you answer “yeah, I was speeding but only like 5 over” you still confessed to speeding. Don’t lie either, just plead the 5th. You have a right to remain silent, USE IT, then call an attorney.

    If you’re ever being robbed, give them all the money they want. Get them out of there. But UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER do you allow yourself to be restrained in anyway by a non-police officer. Run and/or fight with everything you got to get out of there. If the robber intends to kill, you’re already dead the moment you let them restrain you.

    Remember, Police officers do have a valid concern about the safety of the situation – but so do you.

  13. #13 |  David | 

    Perhaps it’s time to change the indemnity protection that police enjoy so much. They can get away with this kind of behavior because “the city” will always pay for it. When their own bank accounts and the financial livelihood of their families is at risk, their attitudes will change.

  14. #14 |  Midday open thread | News Fu | 

    […] Balko has the goods (and the video) on a woman who’s tased and arrested after objecting to a traffic ticket–turns out she got a ticket for using a cell phone when she didn’t have one, and the cop […]

  15. #15 |  GDSmithtx | 

    Dr X said:

    “Curious to know what the “shut up and do as your told” crowd thinks of this.”

    How about “this proves that the system works. She was innocent and the charges were dropped.”

    Actually no, it proves that the system does not work, because Sean Williams is still employed in a position of authority with the potential to abuse the citizenry instead of being indicted and tried for (at the very least) assault.

  16. #16 |  gilrod | 

    Some communities have tried psychological testing in hiring police and firemen, but the first time one got rejected for being potentially unstable, he and his lawyers manufactured a discrimination lawsuit. It’s cheaper to settle than to defend, drop the testing and continuing to hire sadists and morons.

    There ARE tests that are very effective in weeding out bad candidates, but these better ones are expensive and testing usually goes to the lowest bidder whose tests are usually worthless.

    Also, testing counters the most common ways of hiring: nepotism and an old boy network. And that’s why nothing will ever change.


  17. #17 |  johnnyQ | 

    How did we ever maintain order before the advent of tasers? I think it’s absurd to see gangs of overly pumped up suburban cops with their gym gloves and batman utility belts cruising malls or prominently safe street corners. If they like uniforms so much and feel the need to bully then they should find another profession – in professional sports or the army as point man for a Baghdad street patrol…or open up a Burger King.

  18. #18 |  Anarchist Attorney | 

    Screw you people who say obey illegal orders and accept unjustified tickets. We have rights we reserved to ourselves. Sovereignty stems from we the people, not from respecting cops. If a cop gets it wrong, call him on it. You have rights HE has to respect. If he gets out of hand, you get to sue. WTF kind of patriots are you cowards?

  19. #19 |  Scott | 

    I just read thru all the responces above and one thing is being left out – read the whole Story – the officer arrested the Mom, put her in his car and left the two kids sitting by the side of the road. They were left sitting there for 45 mins before someone (dont know who) came and got them. This officer needs to be in jail or fired for that alone

  20. #20 |  goatchowder | 

    Never argue with a cop. Collect your evidence, note his or her lack of evidence, make careful notes after the cop is gone, and argue with the JUDGE instead.

    Or, better yet, force the cops to make their case in court. Don’t give “your side of the story”– give no positive testimony. Force the cop to tell “your side” via asking questions on cross-exam you already know the answer to– to make the cop basically destroy his own case. If he’s lying, that’s perjury, a pretty serious offense for anyone, especially a cop. Any judge can see through it quickly.

    I have fought several tickets in court and won. I won three of them because the cop was embarassed to show up– he knew he didn’t have the evidence. The last one I won because the cop actually cursed at me, IN COURT, IN FRONT OF THE JUDGE and everyone. The judge called him aside after we were done.

  21. #21 |  seth | 

    I didn’t always hate cops. But after seeing a few of these incidents, I sure do now.

  22. #22 |  JSG | 

    Ruling by fear? It sure seems that’s what police are doing.

    People say not to fight with police, but that’s just fear, isn’t it? Fear of being harrassed further, fear of being physically assaulted, fear of being arrested or killed.

    Thank goodness for the cameras on police cars- those things seem to do a better job of protecting us from police than anything. It will be a very sad day if the Blue Wall of Silence starts “accidentally destroying” car videos.

  23. #23 |  Pat | 

    Re: advice on dealing with cops: my lawyer once advised me that if you think you MAY have done something wrong, do NOT answer the officer’s questions and if you think you MAY have had a drink too many, do not submit to road-side tests. (Note that I do NOT condone drinking and driving!!) They are only trying to build evidence against you.

    The advice came about after I made what my lawyer called a “contingent threat” by telephone, to a cretin who had been harassing my family for a long time. The police were useless. In an unwise moment I found his name and number and made the call. “If you don’t leave us alone, I will find you and beat the hell out of you” sort of thing. He, unbelievably, reported it to the police and I got a call from an officer who was a complete asshole, asking the details of my call, which I refused to give, on a hunch that I MAY have done something illegal. Turns out, in my jurisdiction, contingent threats are totally legal (as they should be! e.g., “stop touching my wife or I will kill you”). But this officer screamed at me, threatened me and lied to me, in order to find out what I said over the phone – that is, in order to build a case against me. I was told to be prepared to be arrested, but nothing ever came of it. And in case you’re wondering, yes, the police were completely ineffective at stopping the cretin’s harrassment of my family. He just moved on.

    My lawyer summed up his advice: Many calls from his clients come from the road, “I just got pulled over, what should I do?” and people sometimes cooperate with the police when they shouldn’t, because they are afraid of being arrested and so they walk the lines and touch their noses and recite the alphabet. Little good ever comes of this. If you’re at this point, you can politely decline to participate, though you will likely be arrested. But an arrest is nothing compared to a conviction and the moment you are stopped they are building a case for your conviction.

  24. #24 |  Jane | 

    Damn, next thing you know some cop will be arresting a man for getting pissed off when he’s accused of breaking into his own house.

  25. #25 |  Mike | 

    What the hell ever happened to “Officer Friendly”? When I was growing up in a small town in Connecticut in the 70’s, I was taught that cops were our friends, there to protect and serve. Was this guy afraid that she was a threat in any way? No, he just wanted complete obedience and didn’t get it. The police do have that authority, but they are not being taught when to use it.

    Is this the desired result of any interaction with the police? Can’t an officer be taught to be kind and still be strong? Is that impossible?

    NO. It isn’t. When I lived in Stamford CT, a city of over 120,000 people, I was pulled over rolling through a stop sign. When the officer came to the car, I handed him my license and registration and said, I’m sorry officer, I’m late pickup up my daughter from her after-school program. It’s totally my fault, but she’s most likely standing there all by herself and sometimes they leave kids alone. (I wasn’t actually late, but cutting it close and sometimes they leave early. And yes, I know, we changed to another program about a week after that).

    The cop in this video would have told me to shut up and probably lectured me on parenting, or even arrested me up for child negligence! The cop in Stamford, considered my daughter’s safety and asked me where the program was. I told him and he said to get going and he’d follow me there. We did that and when he saw my daughter waiting with a teenager he got out of his car, sent me on my way and started asking the teenager questions about the program.

    Imagine that. A police officer who actually listens to the people he serves and protects.

  26. #26 |  Withers: Ten random thoughts | Gay News Blog | | 

    […] For those convinced Henry Gates was arrogant and  got what he deserved, what do you say about this video? Did the woman get her comeuppance? Will you defend the police? Or wonder what this story has to do […]

  27. #27 |  Dave | 

    #15 made a good point.

    I was stopped in Georgia on my way to a music festival because my license plate was improperly displayed (in my back window, rather than the rear bumper), but because i chose to stop on the left side of the road instead of the right shoulder, the officer took it as a “suspicious act”. I was removed from my car and asked if they could search my vehicle for drugs. I declined, stating that i wasn’t pulled over for suspicion of illegal substances, but rather an improperly displayed license plate.

    This only further fueled their desire to search my vehicle, so they brought the drug dog over. The dog DID NOT make any indication (or display any erratic behavior that would have constituted the presence of illegal substances), yet they claimed he did and began their search anyway.

    After they dismantled my entire vehicle, including opening a sealed and wrapped present for a friend back home, it was determined that there was no presence of any illegal substances in my vehicle, and i was given a warning for the plate. They essentially wasted an hour and a half of my time to do all of this. I know, it could have been much worse, but still.

    Do you think they were right for what they did? Does choosing the opposite side from the “norm” to pull over a suspicious act? And if so, how could they even determine erratic driving as evidence of the presence of illegal substances in my vehicle? Wouldn’t they rather do a field sobriety test and see if i was drunk? Since they didn’t do that, this leads me to believe that the cop was an ignorant fuck.

  28. #28 |  kahlil501 | 

    it would be better to hear something instead of the woman’s interpretation, which sounded so calm.

    “show me the tape, please show me the tape”

    this sounds made up but you cannot verify without sound in the tape. i think there was a heated argument going on and the cop was agitated and pissed off. the woman should probably not curse and lie in front of her kids. the cop was probably just really pissed off. tasing the woman was too much- he could have just given her plenty of tickets and left.

  29. #29 |  Nunya | 

    You see one Cop doing something he should not, you see a cop in the news who is corrupt, yet many jump on ALL Cops with their comments as though there are no goods ones left.

    There are BAD lawyers, teachers, doctors, etc …. but they usually do not make the news.