Ho hum. As many people learn, some cops do love them their tasers. They’ll use them anytime and anywhere, even if you are a 72 grandmother. Even if you are an 86 year old disabled grandma on oxygen while in your own bed at home. Even if you are having a diabetic seizure while being loaded into an ambulance.
But what does it take for a police officer, known as a person who used his taser excessively, to be prosecuted for wrongful use of a taser (other than killing a man already handcuffed by tasering him 9 times in 14 minutes though even then the cop got off scott free).
We now know the answer: if the cop in question uses his taser against a fellow officer!
BOYNTON BEACH — A Boynton Beach Police officer who has a history of using a Taser improperly has been arrested for the same offense – this time near a fellow officer, according a police arrest report.
David L. Coffey, 30, was charged today with improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon or firearm and culpable negligence. He has been placed on administrative leave with pay, effective immediately, pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation, said police department spokeswoman Stephanie Slater.
According to the Boynton Beach Police arrest report, Coffey, while on duty, sneaked up behind fellow officer Rachel Loy on April 2, placed his department-issued M-26 Taser behind her ear and activated it for a few seconds. Coffey told Loy that he had done so in an effort to get “back at her for an alleged incident that occurred over a month ago,” the report stated.
You know what makes this story even better? Officer Coffey was fired back in 2008 for wrongfully using his taser on a suspected drunk driver in a holding cell, but he was hired back by the very same police force that fired him. Isn’t that just grand?
This isn’t Coffey’s first Taser-related incident. In 2007, he was fired from Boynton Beach Police after an investigation found he attacked a suspected intoxicated driver in a holding cell and later, after the man had been handcuffed, stunned him four times with a Taser.
An arbitrator later determined that Coffey could get his job back and he was rehired in December 2008.
If you want to view the actions that got Officer Coffey fired in 2008, just watch the video at this link. I’m amazed that the arbitrator ruled Coffey could get his job back after viewing it myself, but what do I know.
Well I guess we should be thankful Officer Coffey was arrested this time. Maybe now he can be fired and sent to jail. Though I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.
You know, I think the best advice I can give someone is to avoid all police officers at all times if you can, but if you do need to call 911 for help, well just remember you still might get tasered to death.
“Fred was my sister’s son. Since birth, he had this disease – epilepsy. Prior to the incident, he had not taken his medicine. I know how he would get right before an attack – very strong. On several occasions, he would hurt himself from falling on his back or face. One time he almost broke my hand when I was trying to wrestle him down, but he was not a mad man.
“He was practically beaten to death at his home before he got to the jail,” Railey continued. “His wife had called 911 and asked for paramedics to be sent over to the house. She called to get him stabilized. Instead, they sent a police officer. His wife didn’t understand why they sent the police instead of medics. Then his nine year old son called again, asking them to, ‘Send the truck with the medicine,’ which I think he was referring to an ambulance.
“When the police officer showed up, he remarked, ‘I’ve got this,’ even though the wife kept telling him that he could not handle Fred without the help of medics. At that point, the policeman took his stick or baton and tried to hit my nephew. The hits were blocked, and then my nephew took the stick away from the policeman and hit him in the nose. At that point, the policeman issued an “officer down code” and 15 squad cars with some 20 officers arrived,” Railey said. “He was badly beaten and near death before he reached the jail.”
Frederick Williams was an epileptic. He was tased numerous times while clearly restrained by police. Here’s the story by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the cover-up of his death (via Common Dreams).
Williams died almost a year ago, officially of a heart attack and subsequent brain damage. In the aftermath, no one on Conway’s staff was disciplined. (The deputy who administered the Taser charges was fired later on unrelated charges. He had shot a neighbor’s dog.)
And while Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter promised Williams’ family a prompt investigation, he did not deliver. By January seven months after Williams’ death the family became so frustrated that they referred the case to the FBI.
Claiming his honor had been insulted, Porter then announced he was dropping the investigation altogether.
So in March, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution requested a copy of Porter’s investigative file, including the videotape. Under the Open Records Act, the file had become public record once the case was closed.
But rather than release that file, Porter changed his tune yet again, saying, “I have never officially closed my investigation other than a few remarks to reporters.”
Last month, Porter finally brought the matter before a county grand jury. Even then, however, he did not seek indictments; his purpose, he said, was to ask the grand jury whether it wanted to look into jail policy on use of Tasers.
And the grand jury never got to see the tape. […]
Curious about how law enforcement professionals might react, I described the case to David Klinger, a former police officer and now an associate criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Klinger specializes in police policies about the use of force and is the author of “Into the Kill Zone: A Cop’s Eye View of Deadly Force.”
The use of Tasers as a “pain compliance tool” is not unusual, Klinger said. It causes intense pain, and officers commonly use it to force suspects or prisoners to comply with orders.
But Klinger was surprised by the repeated sustained use of the stun gun against Williams it was fired five times within a minute, although Conway doubts all five charges hit Williams’ body. And while cautioning that he had not seen the tape, Klinger said he would have “a great deal of uneasiness about it” if the Taser was used as described to him.
“If it happened as you describe five or six large deputies holding him, he is already restrained, in an institutional setting it’s fairly hard to argue that’s a reasonable use of force,” Klinger said. […]
So to review: Almost a year after the death of a fully restrained prisoner, a Gwinnett grand jury is finally convened to look into the matter. However, it is not asked to consider criminal charges; it is not shown the videotape; it is not told that Tasers might be lethal; it does not hear evidence that sustained use of a Taser against a fully restrained man might not be considered a reasonable use of force in law enforcement circles.
In other words, the grand jury was used by those in power to make an uncomfortable case go away.
I can’t say I know what justice is in this case; I just know that this isn’t even close.
Jay Bookman is the deputy editorial page editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
And here’s the video of Fred Wiliam’s death for what’s its worth:
But hey, at least Officer Coffey got arrested and will never get to use his taser to abuse and torture people as a police officer ever again — maybe.