Elements of the officer’s version of events are contradicted by video footage. The department denies that this and other force cases add up to a behavioural pattern of abuse.
A Los Angeles police officer shocked a handcuffed woman with a Taser stun gun while joking with other officers at the scene, according to interviews and law enforcement records, adding to a series of controversial use-of-force incidents at the LAPD.
Officer Jorge Santander then appeared to lie about the December 2010 incident repeatedly in written reports. The three other LAPD officers who witnessed Santander stun the woman all corroborated his version of events when first questioned and failed to tell supervisors that one officer had recorded a video of the encounter, the records show.
The video shows Santander firing the Taser without warning and later displaying a Superman logo he wore on his chest beneath his uniform, according to the records. Off camera, another officer is heard laughing and singing.
The details of the case were outlined in a memo written by a prosecutor in the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office that was obtained by The Times. Police officials confirmed that Police Chief Charlie Beck is seeking to have Santander and the three others fired. All four have been suspended since shortly after the incident. Read the full article here.
The key issues raised for me from this article include excessive force (brutality), police stress and the implications, as well as whether the wrong kinds of people are still slipping through the various personality and psychological tests required to become a police officer. According to Arrigo & Shipley (2005) police experience two basic stressors for police officers include organisational practices such as boring admin work and lack of control of the “system”, and the other being the nature of police work in general, mainly being threatened or in harms way. As a coping mechanism it is not uncommon for a police officer to turn to alcohol as a form of stress relief after work, which can lead to alcohol (and substance) abuse – which can affect the officer and their ability to do their job in many ways (Arrigo & Shipley, 2005).
Could stress be blamed for tasering a handcuffed woman? I don’t think so. I see it moving more towards the abuse of power, the thrill of being in control. I see a potentially undiagnosed mental illness, sociopathic traits – or worse – psychopathic ones. It’s a scary thought straight out of a Criminal Minds episode if there are several psychopathic police officers who have acted their way into their role who are now “protecting” us.