Tasers gone wild

By By Nicholas Pappas

By Nicholas Pappas

I’ve been pulled over — many times. Like the usual teenager, I considered the speed limit as more of a thoughtful suggestion than an actual posted law. The only part of our body we actually lose weight in as we age is our right foot.

I’ve met Officer Friendly. He’s the one with a smile, a moustache and a happy reduction.

“Sure, you were going 20 over,” he grins. “But for a limited time, I’ll give you the low price of 10 over. Just sign here.”

Then there’s Officer Angry. He’s the one with a scowl, a moustache and an ass harder than the road. There are only two words you should ever say to Officer Angry: “Yes, sir.”

On Sept. 14, Vernal resident Jared Massey said a few words too many and was Tasered for his jabber. He screamed in pain. His pregnant wife ran out of the car shaking and crying. I know this because I saw it on YouTube.

So did about 700,000 other people.

The video doesn’t make the Utah Highway Patrol look good. Officer Angry, aka John Gardner, left his halo behind on this one. It has caused an online uproar. The word “pig” has been tossed around more than a hacky sack in the middle of a group of hippies.

I won’t give you a scene-by-scene breakdown. Watch the video if you must — everyone else has. You’ll find two very important notes.

First, Jared Massey is an ass. He’s the guy who everyone hopes won’t find out about the barbecue. The man likes to hear himself talk.

Second, John Gardner is not a patient man. After Massey refused to sign the ticket, Gardner was faced with two choices: he could have written “refuses to sign” on the ticket or hauled the loudmouth to jail. Gardner chose the latter and decided a Taser would be the best way to shut him up.

Massey isn’t a dangerous criminal. Massey is the guy who answers his cell phone during a movie or brings his brood of children to a classy restaurant.

Massey is guilty — guilty of being annoying. But that isn’t enough to warrant 50,000 volts.

In the last five years, Tasers have killed more than 200. The term non-lethal weapon is an oxymoron. If someone’s heart is at a heightened state, there is a chance he or she will experience heart failure after being Tasered.

What could put your heart at a heightened state? Perhaps having a Taser pointed at you?

I would not take away an officer’s Taser anymore than I would take away his gun or his badge. The police must have every means available to keep order. The job isn’t easy. Even if officers are never in harm’s way, putting up with people like Massey is hard enough.

Yet if everyone were Tasered for being annoying, our streets would be full of convulsing, screaming people. The 15-item express line at the supermarket would be a pile of bodies. There would be no one to run the Department of Motor Vehicles. Rocky Anderson would have never accomplished anything as a quivering mass on the floor.

Gardner is just another in a line of uniformed men who treats his badge as a license of superiority. His biggest concern, as shown in the video, was that Massey didn’t know who was in charge.

His concern should have been safety. His concern should have been to uphold the law peacefully. Too often those drawn to a profession of authority are the very people who should be given none.

Gardner should be punished. Anything less would be shocking.

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