Once again, we have another story that makes me glad I did not choose a career in law-enforcement.
Yesterday, at work, I read a quick ‘blurb’ story about a gentleman in Pennsylvania that is suing The State, it local police force, and several named police officers in Civil Court, hoping that something stick to someone.
As presented in the ‘blurb’ story, this guy is suing because his 24-year old son doused himself with gasoline, and that while responding to a domestic abuse call at the 24-year olds girlfriends trailer, the police shot him with a tazer, and his gasoline soaked clothes(and the 24-year old inside them) caught fire. He died a few hours later from the injuries received.
Having never experienced it, I have been led to believe by various novel and movies that burning to death is one of the worst ways to die. Still, based off this ‘blurb’ to me at least, we are looking at a no brainer…if you want to be a dummy, and pour gasoline on yourself, and not listen when you are told something by the police…well, death by stupidity looks like a very probable outcome. I was left hoping that the courts through the case out. Sorry dad, your son died from a case of the Stupids, and I feel badly for the police officer who didn’t expect this kid to burst into flames when he was shot with a tazer.
Unable to believe I had missed a story back in 2009 about a kid busting into FLAMES after being tazed, I did a little research, and found another article, with a little more detail. Even allowing for the fact that the details come out of the fathers lawsuit, meaning they are from his point of view, it caused me to reevaluate things. Not change my mind, but, it proves that having more details to make a decision with is better.
The father is alleging that the police officers should have known his son was mentally ill, as he had twice previously threatened to kill himself. Maybe dad…but is there any documented mental illness? Other than in Mayberry, I don’t expect a police officer to be familiar enough with people in his response area that he will know who has threatened to kill himself.
Next, the dad says the police should have called ‘a Crisis Intervention Team’ to deal with is distraught son. I’m kind of sad every town might feel the need to HAVE a Crisis Intervention Team. In this case, the police were responding because the 24-year old had previously been told to leave the residence. Their job was enforcing that order.
The next few points need to be taken as a whole. The father says his son was ‘not armed, not actively resisting and didn’t present a threat to the officers’. He also states there was enough gasoline fumes and that his son was still holding a container when the officers decided to taze him. Obviously…what the dad is trying to get at here is that he feels the officers should have used physical force instead of a tazer, because his son wasn’t a threat, even though he was holding a container of flammable liquid. Heck, for all the officers knew, there could have been acid or bleach, or lye or ANYTHING in that container.
I am one of the first people to jump on the ‘tazers are being used too much’ bandwagon. I think that a lot of times when in the past police officers would have talked their way through a situation, they are reaching for the tazer to end things more rapidly. I also feel that after profession quarterbacks and football coaches, police officers are one of the jobs most open to mainstream media second guessing. Having every tough decision you have ever made examined in minute detail can’t be easy.
Looking at everything here, it is pretty clear to me, 2500 miles away though the internet machine, that this kid was looking to commit suicide by cop. I am still left feeling pretty bad for the officer that actually pulled the trigger on his tazer. He didn’t go to work that day wanting to burn someone to death.
But I also understand a father who is trying to grasp at straws, trying to find someone other than himself to blame for his son being horribly dead.