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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

 
Well at least we know we're free

by digby

From the taser files:

The fire was all around Dan Jensen.

He could see it. He could smell it. He could hear it.

It was close enough to touch. It was burning down his neighbor's house. It was creeping toward Jensen's own fence 10 feet away, and he started spraying the fire with his hose.

Police ordered Jensen to get back, and he complied.

But after a few minutes passed without firefighters arriving, a frustrated Jensen stepped forward and leaned down to grab the skinny gray garden hose once again.

That's when he heard the order.

"Hit 'em! Take him down! Tase him!"

Within moments, Jensen was on the ground. He felt electric.

"It was all over me," Jensen said. "Crawling all over me."

The 42-year-old commercial fisherman is still struggling to comprehend exactly how things deteriorated so quickly Thursday. He said he doesn't understand why police shot him with a Taser that night as he tried to battle a house fire at 3420 Beechwood Ter. N.

Jensen's family, friends and neighbors have been quick to defend him and accuse police of crossing a line.

"It was wrong," he said. "There's no way around it. … I was fighting a fire. I wasn't fighting police. I thought they were here to help me. Instead, they hurt me."

Police said they can sympathize with the stress Jensen was under. But they said he put himself and officers in danger when he refused to back down from fighting the fire.

Pinellas Park Capt. Sanfield Forseth told the Tampa Bay Times authorities could have even charged Jensen with obstruction, but decided against it.

But wait, you say. This man was putting himself and the authorities in danger and the police had no choice.

Really? How about this: turn off the water. Cut the hose. Pull him back. Talk to him.

Tasers are dangerous and not just to the public --- they obviously present an even greater threat to the critical thinking capacity of police officers. Once they have them in their hands it appears they are compelled to shoot first and ask questions later. The idea that you have to shoot a citizen full of electricity in this situation is absurd. Moreover, it's a fundamental abuse of authority under color of law. Imagine if they'd walked up behind him and hit him over the head with a baton. Or shot him in the leg. Just because it doesn't leave a mark doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.

They had no need to hurt him. Tasers just make it so easy.


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