A South Carolina cop pulled an 86-year-old man over for running a red light this week, but the man suffered from dementia and stepped out of the car and looked as if he was about step into oncoming traffic.
Kingstree police officer Stephen Sweikata said he decided to save his life by tasering him.
The taser struck Albert Hatfield, causing him to fall on the asphalt, striking his head and breaking his nose.
And now he is in a medical induced coma.
Even though the cop claims he tasered the man for his safety, Kingstree police said Hatfield said he took a “fighting stance,” which is the routine allegation when police try to justify an unsuitable incident.
Odds are, the police report will also say he “clenched his body” while acting “belligerent” because these are the common phrases police use to justify the unsuitable.
After all, the initial excuse where Hatfield was tasered while trying to walk into traffic was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in South Carolina.
According to the Post and Courier:
University of South Carolina law professor Seth Stoughton, a former officer, said Kingstree’s explanation of the encounter draws a conclusion about why force was used without giving necessary details to support it. Stoughton called the case “problematic.”
“The court has been very clear that officers can use Tasers to defend themselves or defend someone else who is being attacked,” he said. “I have yet to see an officer who would legitimately fear your average unarmed 86-year-old.”
Scrutiny of police use of force, particularly against black people, has spread nationwide in recent years. Much attention has focused on shootings, including the 2015 killing of Walter Scott by a North Charleston officer.
Taser use also has garnered criticism. The federal appeals court that oversees South Carolina ruled last year that officers couldn’t use Tasers on people just because they are a threat to themselves, a decision that forced agencies in the region to rewrite policies.
So that is why they are now saying the deputy feared for his safety rather than the safety of the elderly man, who probably could have been escorted away from the traffic without the use of a taser.