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Hullabaloo


Friday, July 11, 2014

 
Dispatch from taser nation

by digby

This has only happened a few times so it's no biggie:
A police officer here who said he meant to fire his Taser, not his handgun, has been charged with a misdemeanor in the shooting of a fleeing panhandler.

Officer Jason L. Shuck, 36, was charged Wednesday with misdemeanor third-degree assault in the May 9 shooting near a neighborhood Walmart. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail.

"The best explanation that I have is that my ... brain was saying Taser ... but my body moved faster than my brain," Shuck told an investigator, according to the probable cause statement filed in Greene County Circuit Court.

Police Chief Paul Williams said Shuck remains an employee of the Springfield police on paid administrative leave. Williams said Shuck, like any officer according to policy, might remain on the force even if he is convicted of the misdemeanor.

Williams said he has not made a final decision about Shuck's employment.

"The internal investigation is separate from the criminal investigation, and it is in process," Williams said.

Shuck and his lawyer could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Eric David Butts, 27, who had been seeking money outside the Walmart, was shot after Shuck confronted him and Butts started running away. He was hit in the lower back.

Butts, who has been diagnosed with mental illnesses including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, suffered serious intestinal injuries. He is a convicted burglar who had served time in prison and was wanted on a warrant for failure to appear in court on a parole violation.

The shooting has left Butts unable to use the bathroom normally, at least temporarily. A colostomy bag collects his intestinal wastes.
I'm sure tasering him was necessary. After all, he was panhandling --- and the he ran away, thus was no longer doing the thing he was being rousted for. Of course he needed to be shot full of electricity, nobody argues with that. It's a shame the officer made a boo-boo and shot him in the back with a bullet instead. But, you know, if you're a mentally ill person living on the streets who is known by police you should always make sure your voices aren't telling you to stop doing what the police are telling you to stop doing in any way but the way they are telling you to stop doing it. You're asking for trouble.

Honestly, the shooting in the back is a terrible thing. But from the sound of it it actually was an accident --- the cop was negligent, but it doesn't appear he meant to shoot him. But the fact that nobody questions the officer's decision to taser a mentally ill panhandler who was leaving the scene is even worse. Yes, he had failed to appear in court and had a warrant. So what? He's schizophrenic, known to the cop, and pumping him full of electricity for failing to comply in a situation like this is as cruel as beating him with a nightstick. Unless someone's life is at stake, there's just no excuse for it.

(Also note the lovely authoritarian tone in the rest of the newspaper article as it excuses taser deaths. Yikes ...)


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