Caught on YouTube: Tasered for contesting a ticket

Don't tase me bro, Highway Patrol edition.


Farhad Manjoo
November 29, 2007 4:24AM (UTC)

On Sept. 14, a 28-year-old man named Jared Massey was driving down Highway 40 between Roosevelt and Vernal, in northeast Utah.

He passed by a construction zone and a sign pointing out a reduced speed limit of 40 MPH; Massey, apparently missing the sign, continued going at more than 60 MPH and was pulled over by Utah Highway Patrol Trooper John Gardner.

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What happened next is documented in the video captured by the trooper's dashboard camera, posted above: Massey asks the trooper why he's being stopped, insisting that there was no speed-limit sign. The trooper writes up a ticket.

Massey says, "If you're going to give me a ticket ... we're going to go look for where the 40 MPH sign is."

"Well, you're going to sign this first," Trooper Gardner says.

"No I'm not."

The trooper asks Massey to step out of the car. Massey begins to walk back toward the patrol car in order to look for the speed sign, but the trooper yells at him to turn around and put his hands behind his back. The officer points his Taser at Massey.

Massey looks stunned but does not comply; he begins to walk away. Gardner fires the Taser.

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The scene is horrific, with Massey falling to the ground in agony, his pregnant wife screaming at the cop to exercise some restraint, and the trooper yelling at everyone to do what he says.

Is this anything but a naked abuse of power? When Massey asks the officer why he's being arrested, the trooper says, "because you did not obey my instructions."

In fact, as the Salt Lake Tribune points out, refusing to sign a ticket is not grounds for arrest. Gardner could simply have noted down the refusal and issued the citation anyway.

Thank heavens for YouTube. Massey obtained the video by filing a public records request. He posted it online last week, and since then it's received millions of viewers. CNN, Fox News, and others have covered the arrest as well, putting the video into heavy rotation.

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The Utah Highway Patrol is investigating whether the officer violated the department's Taser policy. The Masseys say they will decide whether to file a lawsuit after the police department reaches a verdict in the case.

Be sure to watch to the end of the video. As Massey is explaining to Trooper Gardner that he was within his rights to demand some explanation for his being stopped, another officer arrives on the scene and asks Garnder what's going on.

"Oh, he took a ride with the Taser!" Gardner says jovially.

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(Via Boing Boing.)


Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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