Police State Targets, Tasers, Arrests and Jails Elementary School Children
November 12, 2004
The latest police state/child horror story that police tasered a distressed and out-of-control 6-year-old is sadly unsurprising. Why not? They've used tasers on the weak and the elderly, and police across the country remain loyal to their "non-lethal" weapons even after last week's taser death.
Of course we all know that the police state and its out-of-control thugs are targeting children at an accelerated rate, with children being arrested for fighting, and being given jail time for such egregious infractions as throwing a basketball at each other.
Scroll down for more instances of children being targeted and treated like criminals in today's police state.
Fox News | November 12, 2004
MIAMI — Police used a stun gun on a 6-year-old boy in his principal's office because he was wielding a piece of glass and threatening to hurt himself, officials said Thursday.
The boy, who was not identified, was shocked with 50,000 volts on Oct. 20 at Kelsey Pharr Elementary School.
Principal Maria Mason called 911 after the child broke a picture frame in her office and waved a piece of glass, holding a security guard back.
When two Miami-Dade County police officers and a school officer arrived, the boy had already cut himself under his eye and on his hand.
The officers talked to the boy without success. When the boy cut his own leg, one officer shocked him with a Taser ( search ) and another grabbed him to prevent him from falling, police said.
He was treated and taken to a hospital, where he was committed for psychiatric evaluation.
"By using the Taser, we were able to stop the situation, stop him from hurting himself," police spokesman Juan DelCastillo told The Miami Herald
Man Dies After Police Use Stun Gun on Him
Associated Press | November 5 2004
FORT WORTH, Texas -- A man suspected of trying to illegally hook up electrical service died after police shocked him with a stun gun when he was found hiding at an apartment complex, authorities said.
Robert Guerrero, 21, was pronounced dead Tuesday at John Peter Smith Hospital where he was taken after officers subdued him with a Taser stun gun and he stopped breathing, police said.
Officers were called to the complex where residents said someone was illegally hooking up electrical service at a unit, police Lt. Abdul Pridgen said.
When they arrived, Guerrero hid in a closet and refused to come out, Pridgen said. Officers shot Guerrero with a Taser stun gun after asking him twice to come out. Pridgen said the man was then handcuffed but stopped breathing shortly thereafter.
"They had dealt with him before and had a history with him," Pridgen said. "They believed he might have had a weapon."
The stun guns, used primarily by police, temporarily incapacitate people by sending electrical charges through their bodies.
While some deaths have been linked to their use, officials of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Taser International have defended their product, now used by thousands of law enforcement agencies nationwide.
Police back Tasers despite deaths
After the latest fatality, HPD and others call stun guns safer options
Houston Chronicle | November 5, 2004
By LISE OLSEN and RHEA DAVIS
The death of a man in Fort Worth after being shot with an electrified dart this week has recharged debate about the safety of the increasingly popular stun guns.
Touted as a life-saving alternative to deadly force, Tasers are used by every major law-enforcement department in Harris County and 300 across Texas.
The sudden death of 21-year-old Robert Guerrero on Tuesday is the state's third that occurred in police custody after the use of a stun gun, based on reports from the manufacturer and the media.
The incident did not shake Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt's conviction that his pending order for $4.7 million in Tasers will help save lives, not end them.
"Tasers give officers another option besides their handguns when they are confronted by someone with a weapon other than a gun or by someone who is mentally ill," he said.
Houston's City Council approved buying 3,600 Tasers this week.
Guerrero's death occurred after Fort Worth police officers responded to a tip that someone was illegally running electrical lines into an apartment. They followed the lines, discovered Guerrero hiding in a closet and threatened to stun him if he didn't come out. Shortly after being zapped with 50,000 volts, Guerrero stopped breathing and died, said Fort Worth Police Department spokesman Lt. Abdul Pridgen.
It was the third recent death in Texas of someone who had been stunned by a Taser.
Guerrero and a 22-year-old from Johnson County who died in September were both described as having used drugs before their deaths, based on media reports. But no autopsy report in Guerrero's case was available Thursday to confirm that. In the third Texas fatality, a 51-year-old Amarillo man with heart disease suffered a heart attack after being stunned in September 2003.
TASER International defended the safety of its product in e-mail to the Houston Chronicle on Thursday and said it was prepared to assist in the ongoing review of Guerrero's death.
"Until all the facts surrounding this tragic incident are known, it is inappropriate to jump to conclusions on a cause of death," according to the company's statement.
"What we do know is that Taser technology saves lives every day, and that the circumstances surrounding this incident appear to be consistent with other in-custody death incidents where a Taser device was not used," the statement said.
Few fatal cases found
Nationally, more than 70 similar fatal incidents have been reported, said Ed Jackson, a spokesman for Amnesty International USA.
The human rights group has called for a moratorium and independent research on Tasers.
However, a 2004 Arizona Republic review of autopsy reports for people who died nationwide after being stunned showed that medical examiners mentioned Tasers as a factor in only five deaths.
TASER International, an Arizona-based company, is recording record sales and touts its product as saving at least 600 lives, based on reports received by the company from police officers who have used it.
Tasers are unregulated by the federal government.
They are available for sale both to police and civilians in almost every state, based on the company's most recent annual report.
Popular device in local area
HPD is ordering Tasers, as have the Harris County Sheriff's Department and the Pasadena Police Department.
Baytown police got them in 2000.
A few Houston police officers have used a limited number of older stun guns for several years, but the order approved this week will make new models available to all patrol officers. Police in Miami, Seattle and Phoenix all have claimed to have seen shooting incidents drop dramatically after deploying Tasers.
Local departments hope the availability of stun guns will reduce injuries and deaths to officers and citizens.
Annually, about 30 civilians are shot each year in Harris County, based on statistics provided by the Harris County District Attorney's Office.
There have been 18 shootings so far in 2004.
The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has called upon Tasers to be used only as a last resort to avoid lethal force, said Randall Kallinen, the chapter's president.
Since 1999, three officers have been prosecuted by the Harris County District Attorney's Office in two incidents involving alleged misuse of stun guns, but none was convicted.
Two HPD officers were fired in a 1996 incident involving the misuse of an older model of Taser, said Assistant District Attorney Tommy LaFon, who works in the Harris County District Attorney's public-accountability division.
In a more recent case, a Baytown officer was acquitted of charges he used a stun gun on a 59-year-old woman who was trying to collect mail for a relative in July 2003. The woman was knocking on the door with a brick and turned toward the officer with the brick in her hand when he confronted her.
In the Baytown case, the officer's supervisor defended his use of force at trial, and the officer was not disciplined.
But Lafon, the prosecutor, continues to disagree that the force used by the officer was appropriate.
D. Matthew Freeman, a Houston attorney, is representing the woman and two others stunned by Baytown officers in three civil suits pending in federal court.
Freeman says he believes Tasers are a valuable tool but can be easily misused.
Saving 'several lives'
Baytown's Lt. David Alford, who oversees internal affairs, said he believes use of force in all three cases was justified because of the erratic and violent behavior exhibited by the people who were stunned.
Alford said he's aware of several situations in which he believes that Tasers saved lives in Baytown.
"It has saved several lives," he said. "Officer injuries are down, injuries to suspects are down. It's an awesome tool."
Police State Trend: Arresting Young Children for Fighting
October 6, 2004
Police is Florida have arrested two boys, one 7 years old, and one 8 years old for fighting. We know everyone is breathing easier because a 4"6 7 year old weighing 60 pounds spent some time in lockdown after scratching a teacher. Don't worry, he's on house arrest now, so this horrible criminal won't be roaming the streets.
Police arrest boy 8-year-old after scuffle
8-year-old handcuffed, charged with battery
By James L. Rosica
Tallahassee Democrat|October 6, 2004
It was a typical scuffle between two youngsters - some name-calling, a slap on the face, a punch to the stomach.
After it was over, however, Tallahassee police handcuffed the 8-year-old boy who picked the fight and took him to a juvenile facility Monday night, charging him with misdemeanor battery and criminal mischief.
"This was children's stuff, a disagreement between two neighborhood kids," said attorney Kathy Garner, now representing first-grader Isaac Sutton, who turned 8 last month. The boy's case was made public by his mother, Pamela Kelly.
"He just needs a good talking-to," Garner said Tuesday. "This doesn't need to be handled in the judicial system."
Assistant City Attorney Rick Courtemanche, the Tallahassee Police Department's legal adviser, said the arresting officer decided there was enough evidence to arrest the 4-foot-10, 70-pound boy. And city policy requires officers to handcuff juveniles when taking them to the county's Juvenile Assessment Center, he added.
But the boy's arrest raises the usual questions about arresting kids, including: At what age is there criminal intent?
Isaac's arrest comes about a month after Jefferson County deputies arrested a 7-year-old Monticello boy, charging him with battery in the hitting of a classmate, a teacher and a principal, and scratching a school resource officer.
Johnnie Lee Morris was placed on house arrest and faces expulsion from Jefferson Elementary School, where he was in second grade, reports said.
Here's what happened Monday in Tallahassee, according to the juvenile arrest report provided by his mother:
The 10-year-old victim, whose name was not released, said he was playing basketball Monday evening at the Tallahassee Housing Authority's Pinewood Place development. Isaac walked up and called him "a black chocolate chip." The victim said, "You are."
He then tried to walk away, but Isaac kept taunting him that he would hit him, until the victim said, "Try it." Isaac slapped him in the face. The victim then picked up a rock.
Isaac's 14-year-old sister, who was nearby, said she ran over to break up the fight, putting the victim in a headlock so he would drop the rock. Isaac punched the boy in the stomach, and everyone went their separate ways.
The victim's mother later called police, and Officer Aaron Scott went to their home to interview them. Scott joined the force in August 2001, records show.
Scott also talked to Isaac and his sister, who live down the street from the victim. The sister's story matched the victim's, though she said she did not know who started the fight.
Isaac denied being in the fight, but admitted bending the victim's tennis racket while the boy was playing basketball. Scott - who did not return a call for comment - arrested Isaac and took him to the juvenile center, where he was released to his mother after midnight.
Gordon Waldo, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at Florida State University, said there's no bright line between playground fighting and criminal behavior when it comes to pre-teens.
"At least not one that everybody would agree on," he said. "In my day, we were just taken to the principal's office."
In this case, "there was violence involved, and those kind of acts have been responded to (by police) more forcefully in the last 10 years," Waldo said.
"But it sounds like something that was responded to more harshly than what would suggest," he added. "My gut response is that this was an overreaction."
Added Bryan Loney, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at FSU, "You don't often see elementary-school children taken away."
What Loney wants to know is, "Is this an isolated event? Is there a history with these kids fighting? Is this a kid with a history of impulse control?"
Kelly, Isaac's mother, said this was her son's first brush with the law. He has no behavioral or mental health problems, but does have a reading disability that kept him back in school, she said. She also guessed that the fight started because the victim earlier had spit soda at her son.
Now, it's up to the State Attorney's Office to decide whether to prosecute Isaac, who attends North Florida Christian School. The prosecutor assigned the case was unavailable Tuesday.
But, either way, he's not getting off lightly.
"Oh, he'll get punished, trust me," Kelly said. "Just like we did when we were little. You know, I was taught you're not supposed to fight each other, you're supposed to get along."
7-Year-Old Arrested for Assault
MONTICELLO, FL-September 29, 2004 — The mother of a seven-year-old Florida boy says he's too young to have been arrested, booked and taken to a juvenile facility.
Sheriff's officials in Monticello say they didn't have a choice because a warrant for battery charges had been issued for the child. He's four-foot-six and weights 60 pounds.
He's accused of hitting a classmate, a teacher and a principal, and scratching a school resource officer. But the boy's family has retained a lawyer and disputes the official account of what happened. The lawyer says the boy has an attention deficit disorder
The mother of Johnnie Lee Morris – whose name was released by the attorney – says he was held in detention for several hours.
The boy is under house arrest.
(Copyright 2004 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
8-year-old Arrested, Taken to Adult Jail For Throwing Basketball at Child
Lubbock Online | August 31 2004
ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) — An Espanola third-grader was handcuffed and arrested by police after hitting another student with a basketball, the child's mother and her lawyer say.
"The Legislature never envisioned that the law would be used to lock an 8-year-old in any jail, especially an adult jail," attorney Sheri Raphaelson said.
"This is the most egregious example of poor judgment by police that I've ever seen in my 15 years of practicing law," she said.
According to a juvenile citation for disorderly conduct, Jerry Trujillo was arrested Thursday and booked into the Espanola jail after he "got out of control and refused to go back to class."
Police Chief Richard Guillen, who was not at work Thursday, said he had few details but that officers "couldn't deal with" the boy before taking him into custody.
He said he had conflicting accounts of where the boy was held and for how long.
It's illegal to keep a juvenile at an adult facility.
Espanola school Superintendent Vernon Jaramillo said the incident was being investigated. He expected a report from the school's principal, Corinne Salazar.
The boy's mother, Angelica Esquibel, said he was sent to the school office Thursday when he raised his voice to a teacher after hitting another child with the basketball.
Esquibel, who works next door to the school, said she was called to the office, and that Jerry began crying and saying he wanted to go home.
She said a school counselor wanted him to return to class, and that when the boy ran outside and started crying louder, the counselor told him if he wasn't going to be in school, she was going to call police.
The counselor told him officers would handcuff him and put him in a cell "until he changes his attitude," Esquibel said.
Guillen said he'd been told the mother agreed police should be called. She said she told school officials not to call them.
Two officers tried to tell Jerry to go back to class and told him he had a choice — class or jail, Esquibel said. When the boy got upset and loud, they handcuffed him, she said.
The police report says Jerry was arrested, taken to jail, booked and released to his parents.
Esquibel said that when she arrived at the police station, he was standing against a wall, crying.
He told her he was placed "in a dark room with a window, a metal toilet and a metal sink," and that inmates banged on the window "saying they were going to get him and cussing," she said. He said officers told him to stop crying or they'd let the inmates get him, she said.