Per the following article, apparantly tasering a pregnant woman, Maliaka Brooks, is in the interest of the public’s safety, as far as these cops were concerned, and the two dead-from-the-neck-up judges who ruled in their favor.
Ms. Brooks went on to deliver a healthy baby, but, she still bears the psychological and physical scars of her encounter with Seattle’s finest.
Yes, by all means, taser that ferocious pregnant woman with no regard for her unborn child. Perish the thought of allowing her to remain unscathed from the vigilant protection of savage cops Sgt. Steven Daman, Officer Juan Ornelas and Officer Donald Jones, who have itchy trigger-finger taser mentality. Hell, they’ve taken the keys out of the ignition by then, why the need to taser Ms. Brooks as she sat in a car she could not start?
Most shocking of all is that there was one judge, U.S. District Judge Richard Jones, who actually believed that the cops violated Ms. Brooks’s rights in using excessive force in tasering her, and that judge rendered a fair decision for her. Usually the courts roll over, play dead, sit up, and fetch their bones from the DA, dirty cops, and abusive cops who never met any part of the Fourth Amendment they could like or respect.
But, as must be expected, reality bites and tears asunder when the two fine upstanding judges, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judges Cynthia Holcomb Hall and Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain , decided that abuse of citizens is on the okey-doke, and rendered in their opinion to side with the cop’s actions.
Then again, I am not surprised.
The courts, both SCOTUS and state, have been giving free rein to cops to abuse and terrorize citizens.
I wonder how those same judges would respond if their family members were treated so brutally?
I wonder what kind of a tune would they be singing when the shoe fits on the other foot?
Then again the nasty, brutish abuse of Black American women is as old as America.
Court: Seattle police OK to stun pregnant woman
By GENE JOHNSON (AP) – 4 days ago
SEATTLE — Three Seattle police officers were justified when they used a stun gun on a pregnant mother who refused to sign a traffic ticket, a federal appeals court ruled Friday in a case that prompted an incredulous dissent.
Malaika Brooks was driving her son to Seattle’s African American Academy in 2004 when she was stopped for doing 32 mph in a school zone. She insisted it was the car in front of her that was speeding, and refused to sign the ticket because she thought she’d be admitting guilt.
Rather than give her the ticket and let her go on her way, the officers decided to arrest her. One reached in, turned off her car and dropped the keys on the floor. Brooks stiffened her arms against the steering wheel and told the officers she was pregnant, but refused to get out, even after they threatened to stun her.
The officers — Sgt. Steven Daman, Officer Juan Ornelas and Officer Donald Jones — then stunned her three times, in the thigh, shoulder and neck, and hauled her out of the car, laying her face-down in the street.
Brooks gave birth to a healthy baby two months later, but has permanent scars from the Taser. She sued the officers for violating her constitutional rights, and U.S. District Judge Richard Jones allowed the case to continue. He declined to grant the officers immunity for performing their official duties and said Brooks’ rights were clearly violated.
But in a 2-1 ruling Friday, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. Judges Cynthia Holcomb Hall and Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain held that the officers were justified in making an arrest because Brooks was obstructing them and resisting arrest.
The use of force was also justified because of the threat Brooks posed, Hall wrote: “It seems clear that Brooks was not going to be able to harm anyone with her car at a moment’s notice. Nonetheless, some threat she might retrieve the keys and drive off erratically remained, particularly given her refusal to leave the car and her state of agitation.”
They also noted that the force used wasn’t that serious because the Taser was in “touch” mode rather than “dart” mode, which hurts more. They reversed the lower court’s opinion and held that the officers were entitled to immunity from the lawsuit.
The officers’ lawyers, Ted Buck and Karen Cobb, said the officers made the right decision under the circumstances they faced.
“Police officers have to have the ability to compel people to obey their lawful orders,” Buck said. That’s all the court recognized today. The 9th Circuit just applied the law instead of getting caught up in the otherwise unfortunate factual circumstances.”
The majority’s opinion outraged Judge Marsha Berzon, who called it “off the wall.”
“I fail utterly to comprehend how my colleagues are able to conclude that it was objectively reasonable to use any force against Brooks, let alone three activations of a Taser, in response to such a trivial offense,” she wrote.
She argued that under Washington law, the officers had no authority to take Brooks into custody: Failure to sign a traffic infraction is not an arrestable offense, and it’s not illegal to resist an unlawful arrest.
Berzon said the majority’s notion that Brooks obstructed officers was so far-fetched that even the officers themselves didn’t make that legal argument. To obstruct an officer, one must obstruct the officer’s official duties, and the officers’ only duties in this case were to detain Brooks long enough to identify her, check for warrants, write up the citation and give it to her. Brooks’ failure to sign did not interfere with those duties, she said.
Furthermore, Brooks posed no apparent threat, and the officers could not have known how stunning her would affect the fetus, or whether it might prompt premature labor — another reason their actions were inexcusable, Berzon said.
Brooks’ lawyer, Eric Zubel, said he would ask the 9th Circuit to rehear the case.
“This is outrageous — that something like this could happen to a pregnant woman, in front of an elementary school, at 8:30 in the morning, to someone who posed no threat whatsoever,” he said.
Here are previous articles on the tasering of Ms. Brooks.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Pregnant woman ‘Tasered’ by police is convicted
By HECTOR CASTRO
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
She was rushing her son to school. She was eight months pregnant. And she was about to get a speeding ticket she didn’t think she deserved.
So when a Seattle police officer presented the ticket to Malaika Brooks, she refused to sign it. In the ensuing confrontation, she suffered burns from a police Taser, an electric stun device that delivers 50,000 volts.
“Probably the worst thing that ever happened to me,” Brooks said, in describing that morning during her criminal trial last week on charges of refusing to obey an officer and resisting arrest.
She was found guilty of the first charge because she never signed the ticket, but the Seattle Municipal Court jury could not decide whether she resisted arrest, the reason the Taser was applied.
To her attorneys and critics of police use of Tasers, Brooks’ case is an example of police overreaction.
“It’s pretty extraordinary that they should have used a Taser in this case,” said Lisa Daugaard, a public defender familiar with the case.
Law enforcement officers have said they see Tasers as a tool that can benefit the public by reducing injuries to police and the citizens they arrest.
Seattle police officials declined to comment on this case, citing concerns that Brooks might file a civil lawsuit.
But King County sheriff’s Sgt. Donald Davis, who works on the county’s Taser policy, said the use of force is a balancing act for law enforcement.
“It just doesn’t look good to the public,” he said.
Brooks’ run-in with police Nov. 23 came six months before Seattle adopted a new policy on Taser use that guides officers on how to deal with pregnant women, the very young, the very old and the infirm. When used on such subjects, the policy states, “the need to stop the behavior should clearly justify the potential for additional risks.”
“Obviously, (law enforcement agencies) don’t want to use a Taser on young children, pregnant woman or elderly people,” Davis said. “But if in your policy you deliberately exclude a segment of the population, then you have potentially closed off a tool that could have ended a confrontation.”
Brooks was stopped in the 8300 block of Beacon Avenue South, just outside the African American Academy, while dropping her son off for school.
In a two-day trial that ended Friday, the officer involved, Officer Juan Ornelas, testified he clocked Brooks’ Dodge Intrepid doing 32 mph in a 20-mph school zone.
He motioned her over and tried to write her a ticket, but she wouldn’t sign it, even when he explained that signing it didn’t mean she was admitting guilt.
Brooks, in her testimony, said she believed she could accept a ticket without signing for it, which she had done once before.
“I said, ‘Well, I’ll take the ticket, but I won’t sign it,’ ” Brooks testified.
Officer Donald Jones joined Ornelas in trying to persuade Brooks to sign the ticket. They then called on their supervisor, Sgt. Steve Daman.
He authorized them to arrest her when she continued to refuse.
The officers testified they struggled to get Brooks out of her car but could not because she kept a grip on her steering wheel.
And that’s when Jones brought out the Taser.
Brooks testified she didn’t even know what it was when Jones showed it to her and pulled the trigger, allowing her to hear the crackle of 50,000 volts of electricity.
The officers testified that was meant as a final warning, as a way to demonstrate the device was painful and that Brooks should comply with their orders.
When she still did not exit her car, Jones applied the Taser.
In his testimony, the Taser officer said he pressed the prongs of the muzzle against Brooks’ thigh to no effect. So he applied it twice to her exposed neck.
Afterward, he and the others testified, Ornelas pushed Brooks out of the car while Jones pulled.
She was taken to the ground, handcuffed and placed in a patrol car, the officers testified.
She told jurors the officer also used the device on her arm, and showed them a dark, brown burn to her thigh, a large, red welt on her arm and a lump on her neck, all marks she said came from the Taser application.
At the South Precinct, Seattle fire medics examined Brooks, confirmed she was pregnant and recommended she be evaluated at Harborview Medical Center.
Brooks said she was worried about the effect the trauma and the Taser might have on her baby, but she delivered a healthy girl Jan. 31.
Still, she said, she remains shocked that a simple traffic stop could result in her arrest.
“As police officers, they could have hurt me seriously. They could have hurt my unborn fetus,” she said.
“All because of a traffic ticket. Is this what it’s come down to?”
Davis said Tasers remain a valuable tool, and that situations like Brooks’ are avoidable.
“I know the Taser is controversial in all these situations where it seems so egregious,” he said. “Why use a Taser in a simple traffic stop? Well, the citizen has made it more of a problem. It’s no longer a traffic stop. This is now a confrontation.”
Taser lawsuit allowed to go to trial
A federal judge says a civil-rights lawsuit against three Seattle police officers can go to trial next month, ruling that the officers used…
By Mike Carter
Seattle Times staff reporter
A federal judge says a civil-rights lawsuit against three Seattle police officers can go to trial next month, ruling that the officers used excessive force when they Tasered a pregnant woman who refused to sign a traffic ticket in 2004.
U.S. District Judge Richard Jones ruled that a lawsuit filed against the officers by Malaika Brooks can go to trial July 7. The judge, however, dismissed the city, the Police Department and Chief Gil Kerlikowske from the lawsuit, saying there is insufficient evidence to show the incident sprang from improper training or the negligence of policymakers.
Jones noted in his ruling that he must consider the evidence in a light most favorable to Brooks but points out that there is little dispute about the facts surrounding the November 2004 traffic stop that led to the incident: Brooks, 34, was stopped for speeding in a school zone. When she refused to sign the citation the officers decided to arrest her.
When voice commands didn’t work, court documents show, they used a “pain compliance” hold on her arm. When that didn’t work, Officer Donald Jones jolted the woman with a Taser three times “in rapid succession.” Brooks was seven months pregnant at the time.
“Any reasonable officer would have acknowledged numerous factors limiting the degree of force he could use against Ms. Brooks,” the judge wrote. Court documents show Brooks did not threaten the officers or otherwise resist except by clutching the steering wheel and refusing to leave the car.
Ted Buck, one of the attorneys representing the officers, said he had not read the decision and could not comment. However, he did say that a judge or jury would have to address the issue of what an officer should do in such situations — use a Taser, which causes no permanent injuries, or risk an officer or suspect being hurt “trying to drag someone from a car.”
Brooks, he said, “weighs something like 240 pounds.”
“How long are the officers supposed to wait around?” he asked.
In their court filings, the officers argued they were concerned that Brooks might drive away and injure the officers or others.
The judge pointed out, however, that one of the officers swore in a declaration that he had reached into the car and taken the keys from the ignition.
“In the face of this admission, Defendants’ repeated insistence that Ms. Brooks might have hurt someone with her car is wholly unconvincing, at best, and a misrepresentation to the court at worst,” the judge wrote in an order issued late Thursday. “The facts before this court show that Ms. Brooks posed no threat to anyone.”
Moreover, the officers were not in a life-and-death situation where they had to make a split-second decision. “Using a Taser to inflict extreme pain to effect the arrest … of a nonviolent pregnant woman already under police control is a Fourth Amendment violation,” the judge wrote.
Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or email@example.com