Dear Utah Highway Patrol,
I have just reviewed an officer's own dash-cam footage of Utah man being tasered, after refusing to sign a speeding ticket.
I am exceedingly disturbed after watching this... even to the point that I can't be happy at my family's Thanksgiving dinner until I have had my say. Some salient points, as the situation seems to me, after my first viewing:
The officer is stating that the driver is being placed under arrest... but he did not use the words, "I am placing you under arrest," or anything similar, until after he had first assaulted this civilian with a taser!
He hadn't been charged with anything. And with good reason...It is not a crime, under Utah law, to refuse to sign a speeding ticket.
This is a clear-cut case of False Arrest.
The man was gesturing at the speed-limit sign, and was disagreeing more vehemently about the citation, but he was doing so only after
the officer ordered him out of the car. Why was he being ordered out of the car? At the moment that he was ordered out of the car, he was being detained. And he was being detained without Probable Cause.
Your own UHP Spokesperson's assertion that a refusal to sign a ticket is a refusal to appear in court, has little or no legal basis. Moreover, it appears to be a misdemeanor to fail to appear, only if one DOES sign a ticket. And, signing the ticket only removes the necessity that the citing officer appear in court
to testify to the speeding charge, against the driver. But! The US Constitution guarantees the right to face your accuser. So technically, we motorists would all be better served if we refuse to sign our speeding tickets.
I am a true-believer in the taser, as a good middle-ground option between guns, nightsticks and hands-on-body force. I believe they are capable
(with caveats for intelligent application of tasers!) of producing better outcomes in truly violent or violence-threatening situations (which this instance was NOT) even though there is an extremely minor risk of death in tasering some individuals with medical conditions. It's still safer than putting a bullet in someone. But, like any other weapon, Officers DO need to be properly educated on how to appropriately use them.
You are on notice: the next time I get a speeding ticket, I plan to REFUSE TO SIGN IT.
I maintain my adherence to civic duty. But in the spirit of Thoreau, I believe it most just to resist unjust policies by the Utah Highway Patrol.
I hope that others will feel the same as I do. I hope that this situation places a strain upon your public relations, and that the response of concerned citizens like myself will place an additional strain upon your resources. At best, this will alter policy. At worst, it would theoretically reduce your officers' capability to pull over as many motorists. (And, thus, to threaten this sort of attack again) This, until I am satisfied with a change to UHP policy and education of its officers.
Justice requires that officers administer the law with a firm but fair hand... and that they avoid harm to anyone (including themselves, but also including nonviolent civilians!) as much as possible. Shame on you, Utah Highway Patrol.