Remember this guy? Now it’s an 86 year old grandmother that cops have gone after, according to Lew Rockwell in a story highlighted on the Drudge Report this evening. Members of the El Reno, Oklahoma police department tazed her while she lay in bed, apparently threatened by her “aggressive posture.”
When are we going to stop seeing stories like this? I doubt anytime soon, unfortunately, for a variety of reasons (on a related note, you’d be stunned – no pun intended – to learn how many municipal police departments in this country now operate paramilitary-style SWAT teams).
I suppose I should issue the perfunctory “most cops are great, etc, etc, etc,” right about now, before I slam these particular police officers. Frankly, that’s really not my concern.
You can read the story, but basically what happened is that ten police officers entered this lady’s home after emergency operators received a call that she may not have taken her medications. She didn’t want them there, so they stepped on her oxygen hose and tasered her not once but twice, then handcuffed her. She received burns, was bleeding, and became unconscious at one point.
This strikes a real chord with me right now, because I happen to be visiting my grandmother for a couple days in Lincoln, Nebraska. If police ever did anything like this to her, you can bet I would be furious. Anybody would.
I’m for law and order. And cops have a tough job. Sometimes they’ll encounter situations where force is required. Sometimes it might be a tough call, and I’m not opposed to giving them the benefit of the doubt. This does not appear to be one of those times.
In Columbia, Missouri, a group has started a petition to prevent the use of tasers. From what I understand, their proposal would apply to anybody, not just law enforcement, so I don’t support it. But it’s a decent way to start the conversation about proper use of these weapons by cops.
As a final word, I normally keep things pretty prim and proper on here but let’s just be real. Lona Vernon – the 86 year old woman mentioned above – appears to be a victim. A victim of police brutality. I do not advocate acting on these principles necessarily, but I do not see how the conclusion can be escaped that she would have been justified in using a taser or other instrument of self defense against the armed individuals (the police officers) in her home. If she had done no wrong, had asked them to leave, and they attempted to assault her, I can’t see how she would not have been within her right to defend herself.
Again, I want to be crystal clear that she should not have actually done that. As a practical matter, it probably would have made things worse (heck, maybe this group of cops would have used their firearms at this point). Additionally, just because something is morally acceptable doesn’t mean it’s the wisest way to proceed. But as something worth thinking about, there it is. (If anybody wants to try to portray me as an intemperate for suggesting an unarmed elderly woman has a right to defend herself against a group of ten armed men, please go right ahead – but be prepared to be put on the rhetorical defensive yourself).
Whatever the details, whatever the reason, there simply would appear to be no good reason for a large, armed group of uniformed police officers (who were told to leave the property) to assault an elderly, unarmed woman as she lay bedridden. As citizens and as human beings, we ought to be outraged and demand action when something like this happens.