A Federal appellate court recently held that three Seattle police officers were justified when they tasered a pregnant woman three times for refused to sign a speeding ticket and to exit her vehicle.
In 2004, at 8:30 am, Malaika Brooks was driving her son to school when she was pulled over for speeding. She denied the charge and, as a result, refused to sign the traffic ticket.
Feeling disrespected, the officers decided to arrest her. Brooks refused to exit the vehicle even after they threatened to stun her. Although they were aware she was pregnant, the officers nevertheless tased her in the thigh, shoulder and neck permanently scarring her.
The Ninth Circuit held that the officers were justified in using their stun guns 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 host of reasons. The officers could have hurt the baby (fortunately the fetus was fine). and tased 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.
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