A Federal appellate court recently held that three Seattle police officers were justified when they stunned a pregnant woman three times who refused to sign a speeding ticket.
In 2004, at 8:30 am, Malaika Brooks was taking her son to school when she was stopped for speeding. She denied the charge and, as a result, refused to sign the ticket.
Feeling disrespected, the cops decided to arrest her. Brooks refused to leave the vehicle even after they threatened to tase her. Although they were aware she was pregnant, the officers nevertheless stunned her thigh, shoulder and neck permanently scarring her.
The Ninth Circuit held that the officers were justified in using their tasers because Brooks was obstructing them and resisting arrest. The court also noted that the officers “only” set their Tasers to “touch” mode rather than the more severe “dart” mode.
The decision is very disturbing for a variety of reasons. The officers could have hurt the baby (fortunately the fetus was fine). and stunned her in three different places Brooks presented no apparent threat of harm to the officers or threat of flight (the keys had been removed from Brooks’ car). The nature of the offense (i.e., speeding) was trivial. And, last, failing to sign the traffic ticket is not an arrestable offense and did not obstruct the officers in discharging their duties.
In New York, it is not a crime to refuse to sign a traffic ticket and it is not likely that that you’ll be tased if you refuse to do so. It does behoove you to be polite and respectful whenever stopped. Rudeness and disrespect has bought many a motorist an extra ticket.