Capital punishment in cash strapped times --- taser suspects who are perched on the edge of a cliff

Capital Punishment Quick And Dirty

by digby

More taser madness

A porn actor wanted for allegedly murdering a co-worker with a samurai-style sword died after jumping from a cliff edge following a standoff with Los Angeles police, police said.

Stephen Hill plunged around 50 feet off a sheer rock face after being stunned with a Taser by Los Angeles Police Department officers who had been negotiating with him for several hours.

Television footage of the incident showed Hill scrambling off the edge of the cliff feet first as police moved in after stunning him.

"He jumped down off the cliff after he was Tased," LAPD spokesan Bruce Borihanh said. Whether Hill died from being Tasered, the fall or possibly landing on the sword he was armed with was under investigation, Borihanh said.

He "jumped" after being tasered? Ok. This is reminiscent of another taser event that ended in terrible tragedy for both the taser victim and the police officer who ordered the tasering.

Common sense usually tells you that shooting people full of electricity when they are in a precarious position is deadly. But in a society in which its citizens believe that police have a right to torture them into submission, it's hardly something for which the authorities will be held accountable.

And speaking of the police state, are you aware that there is now a move afoot throughout the country to make it illegal to photograph or video police in the course of their work? There is.

In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.

Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.

The legal justification for arresting the "shooter" rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested. Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where "no expectation of privacy exists" (Illinois does not) but in practice this exception is not being recognized.

Massachusetts attorney June Jensen represented Simon Glik who was arrested for such a recording. She explained, "[T]he statute has been misconstrued by Boston police. You could go to the Boston Common and snap pictures and record if you want." Legal scholar and professor Jonathan Turley agrees, "The police are basing this claim on a ridiculous reading of the two-party consent surveillance law - requiring all parties to consent to being taped. I have written in the area of surveillance law and can say that this is utter nonsense."

The courts, however, disagree. A few weeks ago, an Illinois judge rejected a motion to dismiss an eavesdropping charge against Christopher Drew, who recorded his own arrest for selling one-dollar artwork on the streets of Chicago. Although the misdemeanor charges of not having a peddler's license and peddling in a prohibited area were dropped, Drew is being prosecuted for illegal recording, a Class I felony punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.

The police should think twice about this. These ubiquitous taser videos are raucous entertainment for a large number of people and have turned the whole idea of shooting people with electricity into good clean fun. (Kids want to try it!) If they stop turning up on Youtube and television all the time, people might take them seriously and wonder whether or not they actually have any place in a free country.

h/t to bb