By Eddie Griffin (BASG)
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
After watching the news footage on the tasering of Jonathan Pierce by the Arlington Police Department over the weekend, it is clear to me that this was an innocent man, guilty of nothing but trying to get out of the way of danger while police officers pursued a suspect after a high-speed chase and crash.
So, how did one police officer mistake this black Navy veteran with a young white male suspect? According to news reports, the two men were both wearing basketball jerseys, but of different teams. An eyewitness describes seeing a car race onto the parking lot, slam into a minivan, and the driver exiting and taking off on foot.
Pierce, who had been using an ATM machine inside a club at the time, exited just as people were screaming and scrabbling for cover. “So my natural reaction,” he said, was to go back inside “for safety”. It all happened so fast, he says, that the next thing he knew he heard “a loud pop” and felt a “sharp pain in my side”, and an officer on top of him.
“I didn't even see it coming,” he said. “I'm still feeling shaky about the whole situation. It all happened so fast.”
Jonathan Pierce has a reason to feel shaky after being electrocuted with 50,000 volts of electricity. He could have been the 535th taser related death in North America. Instead, that dubious honor went to Jerry Perea, age 38, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who was tasered and died on March 21, 2011.
Michael Jacobs, Jr. of Fort Worth, Texas, as many may recall, died April 18, 2009. He was victim number 424.
It was only a matter of time before Arlington police would try out their new toys, despite the many warnings. But the police chief was so determined, with Super Bowl XLV coming to the city, 300 new tasers was like a late Christmas present. Discretion is not built into the weapon, and lack of use only itch the trigger finger.
Like many taser victims before him, Jonathan Pierce has retained a lawyer and plans to sue. In times past, such law suits were like throwing stones at the Titan. But as of late, almost every taser victim is winning, because TASER International, the maker of the device, does not inform its client police department that tasers are lethal.
Taser International settles with Butler for ~$3M
Michael Patrick Jacobs Jr., Fort Worth TX, $2.0M
Stanley Harlan, Moberly MO, $2.4M
Taser $6.2M initial judgment for Failure to Warn
What is little known, to victim or lawyer, is the long term effect of taser electrocutions.
We have observed, over time, the same “shaky feelings” that Jonathan Pierce is experiencing now are the same “twitches” that taser survivors still experience, and maybe for the rest of their live.
How then can the true damage be calculated?