August 19, 2009
What started out as an innocent backyard celebration ended with Tasers, tears, and handcuffs for one Virginia family. Prince William County Police responded to a noise complaint at the home of Edgar Rodriguez, a 55-year-old grandfather celebrating his grandchildren’s Baptism—’cause we all know how crazy our Baptisms can get! What happened afterward is at the heart of the matter and is still not clear because the police and the family have very different accounts of the ensuing events.
Family members say that police used excessive force for no apparent reason. But police say Rodriguez refused several requests to turn down the loud music, acted “disorderly” and refused to identify himself. The family claims that the police just began to indiscriminately Taser Rodriguez, eventually resulting in Abuelito being Tasered three times and charged with public intoxication…even though he was in his own backyard!
[efoods]The 25-year-old mother of the twin boys whose Baptism was being celebrated, Leticia Elias, was also Tasered. The pregnant mommy was then charged with assaulting a police officer. Her family contends that she was the one who was assaulted by the police when she ran to Rodriguez’s side in an attempt to help him after he fell to the ground. After her arrest, Elias was detained by immigration and customs officials.
Chief Charlie Deane has ordered an internal affairs investigation in an attempt to straighten out the whole mess. Excessive police force seems to be a recurring safety issue for people of color. With this latest incident occurring just weeks after Harvard Professor Henry Louise Gates Jr. was arrested, it is seeming more and more dangerous to be black or Latino in your own home these days.
What do you think: Were the police out of line or were they just doing their job? Even if the party was loud and Rodriguez was intoxicated it seems a bit unnecessary to Taser an abuelito and a pregnant mami, no?