Friday, August 14, 2009

It Seems Oh, So Reasonable

I'm sure I'll be in the minority on this one, but here goes ...

I was watching the Today Show this morning, when Meredith Vieira interviewed Audra Harmon and her attorney, Terrance Hoffman ... this interview was about a traffic stop made by Deputy Sean Andrews back in January, in which he ended up tasering Ms. Harmon ... twice.

Ms. Harmon, needless to say, has filed a lawsuit. Ostensibly "to bring awareness not only that anybody can be a potential victim, but also awareness to the police officers who have the Tasers to be a little more judicious and think it out a little more before they use this kind of device. Then the overall picture is whether or not Tasers should be used in law enforcement." But also, you know, to make them pay for the police brutality.

Having watched the interview, then the dashboard cam (sans actual sound, but with added voiceover by Ms. Harmon), I have to say ... were I a juror in this case, I would not side with the plaintiff.

Go ahead, get it out ... you know you want to.

Until such time as I see the actual dashboard cam footage with the original sound (been looking, haven't found, but it may be the department in question doesn't have sound, or simply hasn't released it), I see no reason to merrily jump on the police brutality bandwagon ... here's why:

  • Ms. Harmon took it upon herself to step out of her vehicle. Why? Even I know you never step out of the vehicle unless told to. This is seen as a clear act of aggression by many police.
  • Her reasoning, in her own words, "because I wanted to see the tape" (e.g., prove it, bub). What?!? No. Not even remotely a good enough reason. You want to see the tape, you go to court and see it like everyone else, you're nothing special.
  • Then, again in her own words, "I get back in my car and it should have been over right there." Um, why? Far as I know, it is not okay to start a pissing contest with the authorities and then feel you have the right to decide when it's over. Honey, you started it, now own your decision. Not only that, although Ms. Harmon repeatedly claims not to have waived her arms, etc., she is clearly confrontational by body language.
  • Then, "he asked me to get back in the car" ... to which she replied, "show me the tape." Really? So, instead of immediately doing as asked, she once again confronts an authority figure. 'Kay.

Elsewhere in the interview Ms. Harmon mentions she gave the officer the opportunity to search her bag and her vehicle for the cell phone (oh, yeah ... forgot to tell you he originally pulled her over for talking on a cell, an act which she is disputing - says she was leaning her chin on her fist and that may have confused him).

My first thought (and yes, admittedly I already am not taking her word at face value), is she passed the cell phone to her 15 year old son, who was in the vehicle with her. Were I the police department reviewing this case, I'd investigate all cell phones this family has, and check the records to see if any were in use by a nearby tower during the time of this traffic stop. I'm just saying.

So anyway, then she's upset that she was in the back of the Deputy's unit for almost 40 minutes while her 15 year old son and 5 year old daughter remained supposedly unattended. Um, no ... don't think so. What, the officer drove off with her in the car and left the kids by the side of the road? And double what, you seriously expect me to believe said 15 year old hasn't babysat said 5 year old about a zillion times? C'mon, people.

Besides, if she was so worried about them, why did she take the EMT up on the offer to go the the hospital? Now, some people have questioned why an EMT had to come to remove the taser barbs, but think about it: the deputy isn't going near her with a 10-foot pole, and she's cuffed behind her back. Somebody has to come and do it, and who better than the folk who can then give the tased a once-over to ensure no imminent heart-attack?

You notice the EMT didn't make the decision, but rather asked Ms. Harmon if she wanted to go. And she, horribly concerned for the safety and welfare of her two young (unattended) children, went; "and that's where they, um, did it. Made sure that my heart was beating and everything."

Oh, I'm pretty sure all involved were clear that Ms. Harmon's heart was, indeed, beating. Just saying.

This entire scenario smacks to me of entitlement, and it's that, more than anything else, which drives me up the wall (enough so that I freely admit a bias of epic proportions against the plaintiff in the first place).

Anyway, the Deputy Andrews charged Ms. Harmon with speeding, talking on a cell phone, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct ... and yes, all charges have since been dropped.

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