June 8, 2012
The superintendent of the Chicago Police Department says that the reason one of his officers used a Taser stun gun on a woman days away from giving birth because “you can’t always tell whether somebody is pregnant.”
At eight-months pregnant, Tiffany Rent says she would think officers would have been aware of her condition before they assaulted and arrested her on Wednesday morning outside a South Side drug store.
“I was standing at the squad car close enough for him to see that I was pregnant,” Rent tells the Chicago Tribune.
The department says nothing was wrong with the ways officers acted, though. According to the police report, Rent“attempted to take off” after being ticketed for parking her car in a space reserved for handicap persons outside of a Chicago Walgreens when she was subjected to an electric pulse from a Taser gun. The maximum fine for using a handicap parking space without authorization in Chicago is $350.
Moments earlier, Rent tore up the citation and said, “I ain’t giving you (expletive),” according to the official report. That, apparently, was enough for cops to use force.
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy says he believes that it isn’t always possible to determine if a suspect is or isn’t pregnant so in the end it’s matter of upholding the law.
“Well, first of all, you can’t always tell whether somebody is pregnant. So, you want to use it where you are overcoming assault or preventing escape. That’s what it boils down to,” Supt. McCarthy tells the Tribune.
To do as much, Rent was shocked by the Taser, then dragged out of her car, forced to the ground and handcuffed — in front of two of her young children and her boyfriend. Joseph Hobbs, the father of the child, suffered a dislocated elbow and was also arrested by police for trying to intervene. Sharita Rent, Tiffany’s sister, tells the Tribune that some officers on the scene reportedly made “nasty, cruel comments” and suggested to the expectant parents that they “call Jesse Jackson.”
“How could you be that cruel to a human being? A pregnant human being?” asks the sister.
Later Wednesday, a nursing supervisor at the Roseland Community Hospital ran tests on Rent and said her unborn child appeared to be in good health, but the expectant mother still has concerns — she has lost two children during pregnancy before.
“That policy has been in effect for quite some time,” McCarthy adds. “Whether or not the policy has been adhered to is going to be examined separately from the investigation into the use of force. So we’ll keep you posted on that, and we’ll see how it plays out.”
The latest incident follows an episode earlier this year in Dekalb County, Georgia where Officer Jerad Wheeler was accused of kicking a woman nine months pregnant, prompting her to receive emergency surgery.