It’s about the electronics

UPDATE: Thanks to ACLU-VT director Allen Gilbert for this piece of information:

Remember last legislative session when advocates were lobbying for a new law regulating Tasers? Here's a crucial provision of the law that the Burlington Police apparently overlooked: 

(5) Electronic control devices shall not be used in a punitive or coercive manner and shall not be used to awaken, escort, or gain compliance from passively resisting subjects. The act of fleeing or of destroying evidence, in and of itself, does not justify the use of an electronic control device.






Any ideas on how they're going to weasel out of this one? 

You've probably heard the stories and seen the video of the arrest over the weekend in Burlington, where the police violently took down a young idiot who had allegedly assaulted someone else and tried to climb a telephone pole, right?

 The way the story goes, at least the way the police are telling it, they were using reasonable force to apprehend Shane Langevin. People who are sharing and commenting a video on Youtube claim the video shows police brutality.

We've learned that the first version we get of events like this is often wrong. It's entirely possible, once more videos from different perspectives are available, that the use of force will have been justified. I'm not prepared to state an opinion on that question right now.

I do think, though, that there are two important questions to ask.

First, what was the justification for the use of the taser? According to the Free Press, here's what the police say about that:

 “Langevin was able to escape my grasp and began to run away,” Czyzewski wrote in the affidavit. “Officer Rabideau deployed his Taser, striking Langevin in the lower back and upper buttocks; this caused Langevin to fall to the ground.”

 My first question is why they couldn't have apprehended him by, you know, running after him. Related to that is why they used potentially deadly force to apprehend a potentially intoxicated misdemeanor suspect who was apparently not attempting to harm or assault either the officers involved or anyone else on the scene.

My second question comes directly from the video. If you watch the video, at about 13-14 seconds you will hear a male voice shouting twice “Turn it off!” It's not clear at this point whose voice it is or what he's talking about, but my initial impression was that the officer is yelling at the bystanders to turn off the video camera.

If this is borne out by investigation it raises serious questions about police misconduct. Citizen videos have grown important for  recording and exposing questionable police conduct, and there is no question that in Vermont the people have a right to record a police officer in public. Police officers have no business interfering with lawful recording, or ordering the citizens to stop.

I'll be interested in watching how the investigation comes out. 

One thought on “It’s about the electronics

  1. Not surprised. This seems to be the knee jerk reaction when a citizen has a video device.

    Carried to the extreme you have the Fergusson MO police. With FAA cooperation the police had a no fly zone imposed over the protest area of their city. Supposedly for public safety but turns out it was all about limiting news helicopters access.

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