It is unclear why Victor disobeyed the order to stop, but the teenager continued pedaling, trying to escape. Ard followed his every move, driving in and out of the wrong lane of traffic and up onto the sidewalk again.
I’m sure he had it coming.
Late one night in October, a 17-year-old on a bike was chased by a police officer in a cruiser. When the boy refused to stop, the officer aimed his Taser out the driver’s window and fired. The boy fell off the bike and the cruiser ran over him, killing him.
Victor Steen was the fourth person who died in Florida in 2009 in an incident in which a Taser was used. It was the 57th such death since 2001, according to statistics compiled by Amnesty International and the St. Petersburg Times. At the time this placed Florida first in the nation as the state with the most fatalities related to Tasers, a weapon that delivers an incapacitating electrical jolt.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, Number 54 was a mentally ill man in Fort Lauderdale who was hit with a Taser after he wandered into traffic and refused to go with police. He had a heart attack and died at a hospital. Read the whole article to learn about the other normally vanilla crimes that now warrant the death penalty.
Here were the last moments of Victor’s life:
At about 12:45 a.m., said Moultrie, Victor left on a borrowed bike. From there to where the chase started was about four and a half miles. But it was about 1:45 a.m. that Officer Jerald Ard spotted Victor. Where Victor went after leaving Moultrie’s house is unclear.
Ard would later say that he tried to stop Victor because he had seen him at a construction site and thought he may have stolen something. But witness Victor Stallworth said he saw Victor ride his bicycle past the construction site without stopping. Months later, Ard gave investigators a different reason for stopping Victor: He didn’t have a light on his bike — only two reflectors.
A video camera on the dashboard of Ard’s squad car recorded the brief chase:
Ard spotted Victor and did a fast U-turn to stop him. When Victor didn’t stop, Ard veered to the wrong side of the street and up on the sidewalk behind the teenager.
The officer revved the motor, his tires screeching, as he followed Victor into the side yard of an apartment building. With his flashers and PA system on, Ard yelled at Victor to “stop the bike.”
It is unclear why Victor disobeyed the order to stop, but the teenager continued pedaling, trying to escape. Ard followed his every move, driving in and out of the wrong lane of traffic and up onto the sidewalk again. One minute and seven seconds into the chase Ard fired his Taser at Victor, who turned into a parking lot. About two seconds later, Victor fell to the ground and Ard ran over him.
For the crimes of giving the appearance he stole something (but maybe he didn’t,) and not having a light on his bike, Victor was given the death penalty.
But maybe he was a secret dangerous thug!
A video, taken from the dashboard of another officer’s car, recorded what happened in the minutes before the discovery:
Three officers squatted next to Ard’s car, looking under it at Victor. Ard unlocked the passenger side of his car and got something out. The object is light-colored and floppy, but isn’t clearly visible. Ard, holding the object, crawled under the car next to Victor’s body and stayed there for 40 seconds. Two minutes later, paramedics found a 9mm silver and black semi-automatic in Victor’s pocket.
Lab tests showed the gun had been wiped clean. No fingerprints were on it — not Victor’s, not anyone’s. Victor’s family, as well as his pastors and friends, were aghast. Victor was scared of guns, they said. He would not have carried a gun around.
Thank heavens this brave police officer saved us from the rarest of hooligans: a fingerprintless, biking bandit who is afraid of guns!
Oh well. The judge in the case said the cop didn’t behave recklessly, firing a Taser out of a moving vehicle wasn’t questionable, blah blah blah. The point is: if you disobey police orders in this country, expect to be killed.
It’s too bad no one listens to retired cops like Dave Klinger, a nationally-recognized use-of-force expert, who says it didn’t make sense to fire a Taser at Victor because – get this – he shouldn’t have died for a non-violent crime.
“You don’t Taser people in circumstances that increase the likelihood of injury unless they’re a suspect for something like rape or murder,” said Klinger.
At which point, Klinger was tasered for expressing a thought.
…not really. But maybe one day.
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