Police Taser Sober Woman for Refusing Blood Alcohol Test

Radley Balko has the sordid details:

Cops pull over a Noblesville, Indiana woman for allegedly running a red light. She’s on her way to get some flu medication, so they confront her in the parking lot of a Village Pantry.

They give her a series of roadside sobriety tests, which she passes. They then ask her to take several breath tests, which prove inconclusive. At this point, the cop tells her she must either submit to a blood test on the spot, or go to jail. She says she’d like to call her lawyer first. Cops tell her she isn’t allowed, and order her to put down her cell phone phone. She says again she wants to call her lawyer, and continues to try. At this point, the cop — who had just gotten his taser and had yet to use it — says “Okay, taser time!” The two cops then hold the woman down, and taser her several times.

The department maintains its officers acted properly, save demonstrating poor taste in saying, “Taser time.” Radley and I disagree.

Update: Bill Jempty emails with an Indy Star article that contradicts my headline: “Marshall, the owner of MG Photography in Noblesville, is serving probation for operating a vehicle while her blood-alcohol content was 0.08 or more, operating while intoxicated, public intoxication, resisting law enforcement, battery, disorderly conduct and intimidation.”

I wonder, though, if the conviction was required on the grounds that she refused the blood test on the scene? I’m unable to get the video to load to get clues as to her state of intoxication.

Update 2: Craig Sender emails a Gallup poll released today showing that policemen rank near the top of public esteem for ethical behavior.

Honesty and Ethical Ratings of People in Different Professions,
2005 Gallup Poll

(sorted by Very high/High)

%
Very high/
High

%
Average

%
Low/
Very low

 

 

 

Nurses

82

15

3

Druggists/Pharmacists

67

28

4

Medical doctors

65

31

4

High school teachers

64

27

7

Policemen

61

31

8

Clergy

54

35

8

Funeral directors

44

42

8

Bankers

41

48

10

Accountants

39

51

7

Journalists

28

44

27

Real estate agents

20

58

20

Building contractors

20

58

19

Lawyers

18

46

35

Labor union leaders

16

43

35

Senators

16

48

35

Business executives

16

52

30

Stockbrokers

16

56

23

Congressmen

14

44

41

Advertising practitioners

11

50

35

Car salesmen

8

41

49

Telemarketers

7

31

60

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. physics geek says:

    I know why police officers close ranks when accused of misconduct: many such allegations from criminals are simply used as a way to prevent a conviction at trial. However, when a cop obviously goes over the line, such as in this case, it is uncumbent upon his brethren to punish him instead of pretending that nothing untoward happened.

    I hope that she sues, and I hope that she wins big. Winning big, in this case, meaning that she gets to taser the overly zealous officers until they wey their collective pants.

  2. Steven Plunk says:

    More and more I see officers trained in a fashion that pits them against us. It should stop.

    A routine traffic stop is not an excuse to abuse a citizen. We all have a right to question the tactics used by police without being assaulted by them. Wanting to telephone your attorney and being tasered for it is clearly misconduct. This woman was not a threat to the officers, they were just angry she questioned their authority.

    Officers are trained to never allow citizens the upper hand in any situation. That would include asserting a fundamental right or simply winning an argument about the law. I’ve seen it first hand. Using physical intimidation is part of that training, even on women and children.

    Again, it’s the training methods and goals that lead to this. Somewhere, much higher up, our leaders need to recognize that a citizen’s rights are still important and that a reasonable amount of risk is assumed by becoming a police officer. With awesome power comes awesome responsibility.

  3. T. Harris says:

    I live in southern Indiana and the cops, especially in small towns, go out of their way to be assholes. Typically they’re young, sporting buzz haircuts, running around playing Barney Fife because they can’t (won’t) find a real job. A retired state trooper recently told me that the only times he EVER took anyone in for a blood test was when they were obviously intoxicated or possibly under the influence of drugs. For some reason these gung-ho types think that a badge gives them carte blanche to behave any way they want, and people are getting damn sick and tired of it. They need to start firing some of these young punks before someone gets killed or seriously injured.

  4. Meanwhile, earlier this year a guy driving an 18-wheeler hit my car and sent me flying off the road. He failed (to my eye) field-sobriety tests and did register alcohol on the breathalizer, and he ended up not even being cited, let alone arrested or tasered.

    One would think that there would be a happy medium between that and this tale.

  5. physics geek says:

    The video of this incident can be found here.

  6. Jonk says:

    The real shame when citizens rights are stomped upon is that said citizens must spend months, if not years, attempting to enforce the rights they should not have to enforce in the first place.

    The ultimate catch-22 of our Republic.

  7. Steven Plunk says:

    Steven Taylor’s experience shows the police officers lack of professional consistency.

    ANY amount of alcohol detectable in a commercial driver is illegal. A citation should have been issued. It would not have been a DUI but it would have been a major violation for the driver.

    It both cases it is misconduct. Doing too much and not doing enough, both bad.

  8. ICallMasICM says:

    “Okay, taser time!”

    Sounds like the cinema classic ‘Super Troopers’

  9. Herb says:

    One rarely sees an Indiana Police Department fire an officer. The reason is that most counties don’t pay enough for the officer to live on let alone raise a family on. The local politicians seem to be to busy and not concerned about the citizens that are supposed to protect. The politicians only concern is “How much money can we take from the citizens”. Just check the budgets of most Indiana Counties and you will be supprised how little they spend on police depts. and how many pet “Pork” projects they have. It also seems that most county prosecutors “look the other way” when it comes to decipline of any police officer for fear that the county will be sued and their jobs are at stake if they lose a court case.

  10. LJD says:

    Watch the video. This woman is guilty of resisting arrest. She refuses the orders of the officer, and reaches into her car! (For a GUN, maybe?) She struggles against the officers, and get’s stunnned. Folks, this is what “non-lethal” instruments are for.

    What permanent physical injury did she sustain? Look at it this way: Maybe it was the best for HER safety. If the officer has wrestled her to the ground and arrested her, she may have been really hurt.

    Yes, you get to call a lawyer. No, you don’t get to do it in the middle of an investigation. Her whimpering “police brutality” was especially funny.

    Bottom line is that she WAS drunk, and DID resist. “As for the evidence of drunken driving — a measurement of 0.10 blood-alcohol content that was obtained after the tasing and Marshall’s insistence on a blood test”

    The officer’s comment was stupid, but he was justified in the use of non-lethal force. It was no more stupid than this drunk lady’s behavior. The smart thing to do is shut up, follow the officer’s instructions, and let your lawyer do the talking. In my state, you can refuse FSTs, and breathalyzer tests. If you are truly innocent, you have nothing to lose.

    Being a police officer is a difficult job. If all the critics here think they can do a better job, by all means, sign up.

  11. Jinian says:

    The headline is incorrect. The woman had a BAC of 0.10, based on the blood test that was taken following the tasing. She was convicted on seven counts. The tasing may not have been justified, but “sober” is a stretch.

  12. Just Me says:

    Major lesson learned from this incident, is when a cop tells you to do something, you need to do it.

    Traffic stops and domestic violence calls are two of the scariest times for a police officer-it is when the majority of them are killed or injured. There is good reason cops want to see your hands at all times, and want you to follow their directions. It is as much for your safety as the cops.

  13. James Joyner says:

    Just Me: While I understand your point, the idea that when a cop tells you to do something, you need to do it is too far down the road to fascism for my tastes.

  14. ricky says:

    Hey, she resisted arrest, was drunk, dis-obeyed orders from a cop, acted like a bitch…

  15. McGehee says:

    James, Just Me is right — but you need to put the emphasis on the correct syllable: “when a cop tells you to do something, you need to do it.”

    After that is when you call a lawyer and the media, if necessary. Anyone who tries to fight with a cop during the stop is putting lives in danger, and not only his or her own. Period.

  16. Justin says:

    Some of these posts show a really low intelligence quotient.Steven Plunk and physics geek would be the first to cry out for police help. They are obviously total idiots. You can tell the facts have been totally distorted in this case.