Responsibility can be defined as “Owning up to the effects of your actions”.
One of the biggest War Handwavium tactics is to be irresponsible, to downplay the effects of your actions. Rather than acknowledge that bombing and invading a country, irresponsible psychopaths try to spin their actions with “They’ll welcome us as liberators”.
It’s been interesting to see this same level of irresponsibility play out with Tasers.
Tasers are a weapon that are issued to police that are supposed to be used only when deadly force is justified but the police officer doesn’t want to have to shoot the person with a gun.
Instead, tasers are being used by police when a person refuses to comply with police orders. And repeatedly, news articles are reporting people dying from being tasered.
Intended use: non-deadly force in a situation that justifies deadly force.
Actual use: Sometimes deadly force in a situation that doesn’t justify deadly force, but rather the officer wants compliance.
That’s the basic level of irresponsibility right there. Tasers were issued to police as a resplacement for deadly force, so they wouldn’t have to shoot someone. But the reality is that a lot of cops are using tasers in situations that would never justify using a gun, in non-life-threatening situations, and the use of the taser itself is sometimes deadly.
If the police as a whole were fully responsible for the actions of their individiual officer’s actions, they would acknowledge the effects of their actions. But what usually happens is one cop uses a taser where lethal force was not justified, someone dies from the taser, and then the police union closes ranks to protect the officer, and the city closes ranks to protect themselves from being sued.
But there’s a second level of irresponsibility from police use of tasers. It’s the refusal to own up to the fact that using a taser in a non-lethal situation must neccessarily escalate the situation.
It’s not surprising that a lot of news stories about police using tasers and people dying are stories about people who are mentally handicapped or drunk getting tasered. Imagine a cop who expects complete and absolute compliance with his every order. And he’s talking to someone who is mentally handicapped and doesn’t understand, or someone who is drunk and isn’t goign to comply out of drunkeness.
Neither mentally handicapped nor drunk are violent threats. They just don’t comply with every order given. But in the stories that make the news, the cop facing a menally handicapped person or a drunk person is completely incapable of distinguishing the difference between non-compliance to orders versus a violent threat justifying the use of deadly force.
And in the latest story, witnesses say the cop brought his own beligerent attitude to the scene, and the cops needless use of the taser escalated a non-violent situation into something where a drunk man was shot to death.
The irresponsible twist here is the cop refusing to grasp that his actions, the use of a taser where a taser was NOT needed, that his actions took a non-violent situation and escalated to a situation where someone died.
And there is even a third level of irresponsibility here. Something called the “Garrity Rule”. Based on a 1967 Supreme Court Ruling in “Garrity v. New Jersey”, anything a cop says can NOT be used against him in criminal prosecution, it can only be used for departmental investigation. So, if a cop kills someone they shouldn’t have killed, but the Garrity Rule is in effect, the most that can happen to him is he’ll lose his job. He can’t go to prison for murder, even if it was murder by every other definition.
So, what happened was this: A drunk guy refused to follow a cop’s instructions. The cop tasered the guy. That escalated the situation and the drunk guy tried to get away. The cop responded by shooting the guy eight times, killing him.
Any use of a taser not justifying deadly force needs to be automatically deemed a crime. Tasers kill people every year. The use of a taser in a non-violent situation will likely escalate the situation. Cops need to be trained to used tasers as a substitution for their firearm, not as a way to extract compliance to their orders. Tasers have become the new “rubber hose”, a way to inflict pain on someone without getting into trouble. (Rubber hoses didn’t leave marks. Tasers leave marks but the courts have thus far refused to condemn their use in non-violent situations)
And the Garrity Rule needs new legislation to deal with police investigations and criminal activity by cops so that cops don’t use it as a “get out of jail free” card whenever they know they screwed up and broke the law.
Article about the actual incident: