FanDuel - WFBC

May 04, 2010

Phillies fan tasered after running onto field: A police officer used a Taser gun to apprehend a fan who ran onto the field during a Phillies game Monday night, and the team and the police are investigating whether it was an appropriate use of force.

posted by BornIcon to baseball at 08:19 AM - 74 comments

If a fool belongs to a subset of the human race that includes individuals who purposely throw up on law enforcement in the same location under similar circumstances, one could see where drawing Tasers might make more sense than trying to lasso the varmint.

Based on previous incidents, they might want to go directly to live ammo in Chicago.

posted by beaverboard at 08:46 AM on May 04

Wow - since when does a guy causing a nuisance justify use of potentially deadly force. This isn't a game son - you are interrupting our commercial opportunities! ZAP!

posted by kokaku at 09:08 AM on May 04

It's hard to know the idiot's intent, and the risk of death from a Taser is extremely low. If you are one of those who is at risk, or someone who doesn't want to get Tasered, just stay in your damn seat.

posted by TheQatarian at 10:44 AM on May 04

I'm going to say that it is too much force. Tasers kill people. In Arlington, the police have used a Taser four times this year, two of the people died. And, they were situations like this one where someone wasn't following orders, but was not being dangerous.

posted by bperk at 10:44 AM on May 04

I guess I'm going to have to get used to this "dude who vomited on someone" being brought up every time something happens in philly the same way the media brings up the "snowballs at santa claus" thing for the last couple decades.

posted by DudeDykstra at 10:49 AM on May 04

someone who doesn't want to get Tasered, just stay in your damn seat

And if you're not breaking any laws, what do you have to fear from the police anyway? I'm going to go give them my tax returns and a copy of my diary just in case I broke some laws I don't know about. Or have been thinking about doing so.

posted by yerfatma at 11:13 AM on May 04

someone who doesn't want to get Tasered, just stay in your damn seat

I realize this is the interwebs and so people are prone to exaggeration, but seriously? The society you want to live in is one where breaking any rule could get you a strong dose of pain and possible electrocution? You trust both the people who make the rules and the people who deliver the punishment that much?

posted by kokaku at 11:53 AM on May 04

The society you want to live in is one where breaking any rule could get you a strong dose of pain and possible electrocution? You trust both the people who make the rules and the people who deliver the punishment that much?

Personally, I sure as hell don't. But if I knew that there was the possibilty of being tasered for running onto the field, my ass would stay in my seat babysitting my $8.50 beer.

This just me but I always thought running on the field was kinda dumb.

posted by BornIcon at 12:08 PM on May 04

Assume for a moment that the risk of being tasered is an effective deterrent to future field-runners. Does the end justify the means?

Consider also whether it would be an effective deterrent to the handful of people who would wish to inflict harm on a player or official. If the virtual certainty of jail time is not a sufficient deterrent, would the risk of tasering make any difference? Would the insane Seles attacker have thought twice? Or the raging father-son duo who pummeled Gamboa? If it's a deterrent to anyone, it's the harmless teens and drunks that so many of us like to laugh at and cheer for. Is it really so important to contain those people that we must electrocute them on site, while thousands of children look on in amazement and confusion and horror? Is that ethical?

posted by cl at 12:39 PM on May 04

Another option would be to deputize the mascots and let them handle things on the field as they best saw fit.

You can stockpile a lot of different non-voltage-based tools of humiliation and subduction inside one of them big ol' wooly suits.

First, the offender gets pantsed and depilatoried by a lime green smurf, then he gets hosed off and hustled over to help scrape and paint the Walt Whitman Bridge.

Gotta go check those times in the full dress 40 from the mascot combine.

posted by beaverboard at 12:51 PM on May 04

But if I knew that there was the possibilty of being tasered for running onto the field, my ass would stay in my seat babysitting my $8.50 beer.

If you knew it would result in the police dropping a tactical nuke on the field, that would work too. But it probably wouldn't justify the act*.

* Depends on the city and stadium

posted by yerfatma at 01:10 PM on May 04

If the virtual certainty of jail time is not a sufficient deterrent, would the risk of tasering make any difference? Would the insane Seles attacker have thought twice? Or the raging father-son duo who pummeled Gamboa?

Probably not. But it may have stopped them - particularly the father/son duo who attacked Gamboa.

And how do you determine if the person is harmless or a psycho with a knife? After they stab someone? (those Ligue scumbags had a knife on them as well. According to Deadspin, the younger Ligue regards that attack as the highlight of his life. And he recently had a "shorty" so Chicago can look forward to three generations of Ligues running onto the field.)

I'm not defending the use of a taser (Except for the Ligues. I'd pay to see them tasered). But there needs to be a bright line between the field (or court) and the stands.

If some "harmless" drunk decides to run on the field, he should be arrested. If he's running away from the cops or a security guard, he's gonna get taken down. I'd prefer a clothesline or a body slam.

But when people such as Gamboa or Seles have been beaten and stabbed on the field, it's not for law enforcement to determine the intent of the idiot drunk on the field. They just need to stop him.

posted by cjets at 01:23 PM on May 04

I'm for the tasering in a case like this. I agree that when some moron runs onto a playing field full of professional athletes, anything can happen. That guy could be armed and determined to take one of them out. It's probably why most security personnel don't try to bodyslam him. Although, in my opinion, the thrill of national attention and their share of "15 minutes of fame" seems to be a stronger allure than the consequences administered by law officials, be it a bodyslam, a shot from a taser, or a shot from a Smith-Wesson.

At least with tasering, all it's designed to do is disrupt the target's control of muscular and body functions. The worst that can really happen to him is peeing all over himself in front of 50,000 people.

posted by NerfballPro at 01:50 PM on May 04

I think a good measure is to look at the history of baseball, how many 'running on the field' occasions there have been (a few a season?), and how many have ended up violent (sounds like 1 in baseball from the comments). Are you going to react with tasers for that? Life is not a nice safe affair and no amount of violence will make it so.

posted by kokaku at 02:15 PM on May 04

But it may have stopped them - particularly the father/son duo who attacked Gamboa.

This was the justification Tim Kurkijan gave on ESPN (you'll be shocked to know the two ESPN talking heads who weighed in while I was eating lunch both heartily endorsed the behavior taken by security for one of their broadcast partners). The problem I have with it is it's an after-the-fact justification. Every person who talks in the movie theater could be a suicide bomber plotting to detonate their device. It doesn't mean I should be allowed to beat them senseless.

ESPN finished their hour broadcast with another fine piece of journalism, showing a map of how "You, The Viewer" voted about the Taser incident (as though mob rule were a useful indicator). The map showed one state against the Tasering (with two states, I'm proud to be in one of them, not voting enough to register). A sea of red Pro-Taser opinions. Except the vote was 53% to 47% with a margin of error of 2% so it was basically a dead heat.

It pains me to think people are making decisions about their civil liberties and personal freedoms based off of one corporation paying another corporation, resulting in Herm Edwards explaining the whole thing was perfectly acceptable for the same reason zoos have moats. You're giving in to them. Christ, I used to wish I could vote for Ronald Reagan as a nerdy little kid and I've grown up to be Jello Biafra instead. Though I don't know if I changed: it's just not safe to implicitly trust the gubmint to make the right decision no matter what the consequences are.

At least with tasering, all it's designed to do is disrupt the target's control of muscular and body functions. The worst that can really happen to him is peeing all over himself in front of 50,000 people.

Well, that or dying. I'm struggling with another crime (other than a capital murder in a state with criminal punishment) that requires the actor to give up the right to their bodily functions. I'd be careful about giving that one up just to keep the pace of baseball games fast enough for advertisers. Because if they gave a shit about the players or coaches, why couldn't they get those two clowns in Chicago jail time?

And I'm going to guess Philly is not one of the places where the requirement for a cop to carry a Taser is they have to be hit with it first.

posted by yerfatma at 02:19 PM on May 04

I think that if the police order you to stop and you resist then a taser or other non lethal method is appropriate. If you don't want to be tasered then just obey the order to submit when given by the police. I guess there is a small risk of death or injury by taser but there is probably a similar risk by being tackled, choke hold or whatever. If the dude has a heart attack because he is chased by the police or visa versa then who's fault is that, obviously it is the jerk who can't behave himself or obey the laws or commands of law enforcement.

The minute this ass wipe decided to run onto the field it was fine in my book for the police to stop him by whatever non lethal force the determined to be prudent. I hate second guessing the police as they have a difficult job and if I were a cop I would rather taser the guy then risk injury trying to physically subdue him.

In a perfect world I suppose the police would just kindly and politely ask the perp to please leave the field and he would do so. Sometimes it just doesn't work that way.

posted by Atheist at 02:31 PM on May 04

If the dude has a heart attack because he is chased by the police or visa versa then who's fault is that, obviously it is the jerk who can't behave himself or obey the laws or commands of law enforcement.

Any smart apple who's gonna jump onto a playing field during a professional sporting event, with athletes far bigger than him, likely doesn't have a weak enough heart to be fatally affected by a shock from a taser.

In a perfect world I suppose the police would just kindly and politely ask the perp to please leave the field and he would do so. Sometimes it just doesn't work that way.

Nope, in a perfect world he wouldn't have even made the jump onto the field in the first place. Nor would we even be discussing this!

posted by NerfballPro at 02:52 PM on May 04

Atheist - is it possible that there are people who have good reason to fear the police? are there instances where 'resisting arrest' has been used to cover up criminal behavior by the police? are there cases where police have used tasers inappropriately?

I'm addressing the larger question of taser use, not this specific case of running on the field. Because the broader acceptance of taser use is what sets the stage for arbitrary use like this.

posted by kokaku at 02:55 PM on May 04

I think that if the police order you to stop and you resist then a taser or other non lethal method is appropriate. If you don't want to be tasered then just obey the order to submit when given by the police.

What if I'm minding my own business celebrating a win by my team and the cops decide to beat me and then cover it up? How about if I'm riding my motorcycle and get forced over by someone identifying themselves as a police officer and then the police break into my house (either with a forged warrant or an illegal one) to try to seize property that contains proof of their misdeeds? Should I just obey their orders then?

Maybe I watched The Grapes of Wrath one too many times, but you people are too willing to trust your fellow citizens just because of their job. Hopefully Tom Joad will still be around when it counts.

"I'll be all around in the dark. I'll be ever'-where - wherever you can look. Wherever there's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad - an' I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise, and livin' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too."

posted by yerfatma at 03:06 PM on May 04

I don't like tasers, or beanbag guns, or any of the supposedly non-lethal crowd control devices that are made available to police. Police are trained to regard their firearms with all due seriousness -- don't point if you're not willing to use it, don't use it if you're not willing to kill, as the saying goes. While I'm sure that there are police officers who regard firearms as big-boy toys, I believe that the large majority have an appropriate respect for what a firearm can do. I don't know that the same is really true about the so-called non-lethal devices. In fact, in the case of Victoria Snelgrove, it was quite clear that manufacturer's guidelines for safe usage were being ignored, and that officers were doing things that they had been specifically cautioned not to do. Would a police officer ever exhibit that kind of carelessness with a firearm? Would a police officer operate a firearm without even knowing the rules of its safe operation?

With that said...if you run onto a field, you're stupid. If you show up at what promises to be a drunken riot with people torching cars, and you hang out as a spectator enjoying the show...well, sorry to speak ill of the dead, but that's a damn stupid thing to do too. Just as it's stupid for cops to treat their "non-lethal" weapons like they're nerf guns, it's stupid for a bystander to assume that they can't be really harmed by these devices, and to go nose to nose with cops who are armed with them. Job One is looking out for yourself and making sensible decisions on your own behalf...it isn't expecting someone else to do it for you.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:10 PM on May 04

People are way too cavalier about taser use. Far too often, taser use is lethal force. Before tasers, officers didn't have any more trouble getting those idiots off the field. So, why escalate to a more serious level of force at all?

Sure, people should follow lawful orders. Everyone agrees with that. I think the disagreement comes with what should be the penalty for failure to follow lawful orders? Is death okay? Tasers have caused over 200 deaths according to Amnesty International.

posted by bperk at 03:11 PM on May 04

if you run onto a field, you're stupid.

Yeah, absolutely and I just want to make clear I'm not endorsing a God-given right to take a lap in Fenway Park. I don't think that's really up for discussion. I'm just concerned by the faith people have in the modern police force and technology. People still joke with pride about not being able to program their VCRs (or whatever piece of electronics). How many of those fun folks are carrying TASERs©?

Also, I'd ask that you all conform to the proper capitalization and copyright indications with each mention of this very valuable brand. It's all laid out in a convenient 2.2 meg PDF.

posted by yerfatma at 03:15 PM on May 04

This one happened at Gillette Stadium in 2008. Suppose Junior Seau had suffered a career-ending injury in the incident, would fans object to the use of a TASER? I'm don't think they would. What if the guy in Philadelphia had not been intercepted and had caused injury to a player? It's true the guy was a harmless drunk, but in the light of the Monica Seles incident, when someone makes a threatening move, you don't wait to see what he's up to. The police in Philadelphia were only recently issued TASERs and were required to undergo extensive training in their use. I very much doubt that any of them was bragging about how incompetent in their usage he was.

I enter the following as a commentary and not as any topic for further discussion in this thread. What I sense in many comments above is a very strong distrust of authority. For those who have commented this way, you are not alone. Much of what is happening in US politics these days is fueled by just those sentiments. I feel it is healthy to question authority and demand its accountability, but in a clear case of someone disobeying the law, authority must be obeyed. If you want to question its correctness, then do so after the flames have died down and a dispassionate look may be taken at the incident.

Recommended soapbox suppliers available upon request.

posted by Howard_T at 04:56 PM on May 04

I'm basically rejecting the assertion that jumping into the field to run around is a threatening move and that authority must respond with force. They could let that guy run around until he's worn himself out, escort him off the field, and ban him from the stadium.

posted by kokaku at 05:16 PM on May 04

Suppose Junior Seau had suffered a career-ending injury in the incident, would fans object to the use of a TASER? I'm don't think they would.

Yes, I would. The whole point of escalating the amount of force is that regular force isn't enough. They got that guy off the field just fine without any escalation. If you are suggesting that the police should assume that anyone on the field intends to harm a player and should immediately be tasered, I disagree on that as well.

posted by bperk at 05:32 PM on May 04

Stop the useless speculation. It isn't evidence. Guy should not be tasered. It's not like this is a different world now, scary and full of crazed maniacs at every turn. Running onto the field is a public nuisance (and the Seles guy wasn't really rushing the field). Fucking everyone is so damn taser happy and the hysteria levels are annoying.

The proper response to running on the field is to be gang-tackled by slow fat guys wearing yellow raincoats. So endith the lesson.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:58 PM on May 04

The whole point of escalating the amount of force is that regular force isn't enough.

So if the guy struggles and throws a punch, you wouldn't object to the regular force of an arm twist, resulting in a dislocated shoulder, or a return punch, resulting in a broken jaw, or perhaps the use of a baton? Of all the possible means of force that could be applied, I think that the TASER could be the least likely to cause damage that lasts longer than a few minutes. TASER training includes the trainees being subjected to a TASER hit. They would know how it feels and its probable long-term effect.

They could let that guy run around until he's worn himself out

...and when his success at making an ass of himself and getting his face on TV at the cost of a fine is evident, you will find yourself chasing more than a few "fans" off the field during a season.

posted by Howard_T at 05:58 PM on May 04

....if I knew that there was the possibilty of being tasered for running onto the field, my ass would stay in my seat babysitting my $8.50 beer.

Wow, what I wouldn't give to have a sports facility where beer only costs $8.50 .

posted by tommytrump at 05:59 PM on May 04

when his success at making an ass of himself and getting his face on TV at the cost of a fine is evident

Running onto the field gets you tossed in jail at least overnight and there's a hefty fine. TV networks never show people on the field anymore. We're always told fans running on the field begets fans running on the field, and I buy it to a certain extent, but if there's no TV time, why would people bother?

posted by yerfatma at 06:17 PM on May 04

Zapping the guy was overkill; but, given the heightened security fears in our day and age, he/we should not be surpised by extreme uses of force.

Running on to the field is stupid and dangerous, not to mention cliche.

posted by Tigginator at 06:41 PM on May 04

Attendance at the game: 44,817

Number of people tasered: 1

Number of people who trespassed onto the field of play: 1

I've never been the best math student, but that seems straightforward enough to me.

If you don't want to get tasered, don't go on the field.

At baseball games that I attend, there's always an announcement telling fans not to enter the field of play.
I don't have a ticket in front of me, but I suspect those instructions are also on the back of your ticket.
Maybe it shocked some common sense into the guy's head, he sure needs it.

posted by tommytrump at 08:16 PM on May 04

I'm not in favor of this dude being tased, but I'm 100% in favor of Mike Ditka tackling him.

posted by Joey Michaels at 08:46 PM on May 04

Jesus Christ, all this protectiveness for a Class A moron? Fuck him, fuck his still-tingling gonads and fuck his sure-to-be-stupid offspring.

As Tommy points out, it's a given you are not supposed to be out running around on the field. If you choose to do so, you will be forcibly removed from said field by whatever method the security force sees fit.

If it's Tasering, fine. If it's getting knocked flat and stomped a little, so be it. If it's you getting a pair of dislocated shoulders from the double chicken wing applied by a pissed-off cop, good luck shaking off the last drop in the can, Sparky.

I'm all for protecting the rights of normal, everyday citizens going about their business. I'm not for protecting jackasses.

Sure seems like some of you are.

They got that guy off the field just fine without any escalation.

Yep, in that instance they did. How'd it work out for the first-base coach in Chitown?

If you are suggesting that the police should assume that anyone on the field intends to harm a player and should immediately be tasered, I disagree on that as well.

Running onto the field is a public nuisance (and the Seles guy wasn't really rushing the field).

Drunk guy bolts into your house through your back door while you're making dinner and proceeds to start screaming in the kitchen and running in circles. There's a Taser on your counter.

You:

A) Let the young man run himself out of breath because you believe he means no harm, or

B) Drop that motherfucker.

Before you answer, consider that the players, coaches and umpires on the field are unarmed and have no idea the intention of the drunk young friend they have just gained.

Your answer?

posted by wfrazerjr at 08:56 PM on May 04

How, exactly is a drunk guy running through my house the same as running onto the field at a ballgame?

How about a streaker? Do you tase a streaker? Same crime. Shit, that one could be out rapin'! He's ready to go!

And my answer is.... I don't have a backdoor! Ha! I live in an condominium! Heh heh. The game is mine!

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:50 PM on May 04

I'm for protecting jackasses, including those who truck in false equivalency and provocative rhetoric.

posted by Hugh Janus at 10:10 PM on May 04

One night later, another fool on the field in Philly. No taser this time.

posted by Scottymac at 11:46 PM on May 04

There is no difference between a man running onto a field and a man running into your house if you view the safety of others as equal to your own. If you don't mind the occasional stabbing or first-base coach beating, I can understand your view.

Yes, you tase the streaker. He has no weapon, but has already proven himself unstable. Remove him (or her) forthwith.

This is not a matter of protecting the idiot. It's a matter of protecting everyone else.

Fuck the idiot.

posted by wfrazerjr at 12:09 AM on May 05

There is no difference between a man running onto a field and a man running into your house if you view the safety of others as equal to your own.

You must have a MASSIVE house, or you think baseball games are played in squash courts.

Other than the guys chasing him, he didn't get within 50 feet of anyone else on the field.

posted by grum@work at 01:05 AM on May 05

...and when his success at making an ass of himself and getting his face on TV at the cost of a fine is evident, you will find yourself chasing more than a few "fans" off the field during a season.

Funny, you should mention that. Apparently intrigued by the national response to Monday night's incident, another fan rushed the field in the 9th inning of Tuesday night's game too. This time he gave himself up almost right away before any means of force could be employed. Another fan, another 15 minutes of fame.

posted by NerfballPro at 03:51 AM on May 05

Best reponse I've ever seen to a streaker was at a World Cup rugby match in Belfast. An Australian guy jumped onto the pitch in the buff and ran out to the middle. The security boys did nothing at all, thereby failing to complete the presumably desired "chase me!" part of the equation, and leaving the Aussie standing in the middle of the pitch all alone and not quite sure what to do next. In the end, he just turned round and went back to his seat.

Not that this has anything to do with that. I'm with Weedy - the proper response to a pitch invader is a comedy chase by out of shape old men in slippy shoes and high visibility jackets.

posted by JJ at 05:48 AM on May 05

There is no difference between a man running onto a field and a man running into your house if you view the safety of others as equal to your own.

And yet US law says there is. One of them I can happily beat the shit out of, the other not so much.

posted by yerfatma at 08:20 AM on May 05

JJ - especially if the stadium starts playing Yakety Sax

posted by kokaku at 08:41 AM on May 05

Other than the guys chasing him, he didn't get within 50 feet of anyone else on the field.

So no one forced to chase this moron down had to get within 50 feet of him? I'd suggest you get out your yardstick and remeasure. And in the instances of Monica Seles and Tom Gamboa, those people definitely got a little closer than 50 feet.

So which group are we more interested in protecting -- the potential attacker or the potential victims? It seems to me the majority of people here want to view this as a harmless prank in the face of a number of instances where what generally might be Charlie Drunk out for a stroll on the basepaths or the court has turned out to be a dangerous idiot (or two).

I'm not for waiting to find out who Charlie really is. Charlie took his chances when he climbed over the railing.

Charlie's getting tased.

And yet US law says there is. One of them I can happily beat the shit out of, the other not so much.

Of course you can't rush the field and beat the crap out of Charlie, no. But you're being too literal. Again, put yourself in the place of the players and security staff. Why wait and find out intentions? You wouldn't do it in your home, would you?

By the way, here's a somewhat on-topic list of fan incidents, including this gem:

March 15, 2010 - During the first period of a KHL playoff game between Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg and Salavat Yulaev Ufa at the Yekaterinburg Sports Palace, a drunk Avtomobilist fan climbed over the glass behind Salavat's bench and hit Salavat goaltender Vitaly Kolesnik over the head with a stick several times. Kolesnik was left with a concussion and with blood pouring down his face, and had to be escorted from the arena by medical personnel. Avtomobilist were fined one million rubles ($33,500) by the KHL for having inadequate security. The fan was arrested.

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:18 AM on May 05

The fan was arrested.

And no one has seen him since...

The question isn't would you do the same if the guy ran into your house, the question is did the security guards use excessive force. That's a judgement call. I didn't see it, only saw a picture and read an article, but from where I'm sitting, a taser seems excessive.

Another question is whether or not the security guard's potential use of a taser is going to prevent an actual nutter to is intent on harming a player or official from doing so. My guess is no. As has been mentioned, if the idea of certain jail time isn't putting him or her off, why would they care about getting tased?

I did notice in the photo in the article that the security guy is also carrying a gun. Does he have set peramaters for when he can use that? What are they? By your logic, fraze, he could equally well have opened up on the guy.

posted by JJ at 10:05 AM on May 05

Local cops where I live, are tasered as part of their taser training. I think that gives them the respect for what this weapon can do.

posted by Debo270 at 10:47 AM on May 05

I Think if you want to run on the field, you should get laid out by a player. Just ask this Browns fan. He got to meet James Harrison. I bet he would have rather been Tased.

posted by Debo270 at 11:00 AM on May 05

WeedyMcSmoky:

How about a streaker? Do you tase a streaker? Same crime. Shit, that one could be out rapin'! He's ready to go!

Hold on a sec. Is he packing wood?

kokaku:

JJ - especially if the stadium starts playing Yakety Sax

I'd pay good money to see that.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 11:08 AM on May 05

Other than the guys chasing him, he didn't get within 50 feet of anyone else on the field.

So no one forced to chase this moron down had to get within 50 feet of him? I'd suggest you get out your yardstick and remeasure.

I'm guessing you didn't read what I wrote.

And in the instances of Monica Seles and Tom Gamboa, those people definitely got a little closer than 50 feet.

I'm sorry, do you think an officer with a taser would have been able to stop those from happening? If you do, you're nuts. The Seles attack was from a guy sitting in the stands. Unless they had their tasers out and pointing at the guy from before he started, it's impossible.

The Gamboa attack was also a direct bee line from the stands to the incident. Nobody had a chance to react, nevermind whip out a taser and fire with pinpoint accuracy to hit one of the attackers.

In the case of the tasered Philly fan, he had been running around in the outfield, threatening no one at all, and then he was tasered. That wasn't necessary.

posted by grum@work at 12:15 PM on May 05

In the case of the tasered Philly fan, he had been running around in the outfield, threatening no one at all

How do the cops and security guards chasing him know he's not armed? And why should they give him the benefit of the doubt?

What if one of them tackles him and he pulls a knife and slashes at them or stabs them?

I'd agree, in this particular case, that the taser seemed unnecessary. But it's a judgement call. And who's to say that cop was not thinking about Gamboa or Monica Seles and the possibility that this "harmless idiot" was armed?

posted by cjets at 01:23 PM on May 05

And why should they give him the benefit of the doubt?

Because that's how the law works. Or at least it used to.

posted by yerfatma at 01:33 PM on May 05

Because that's how the law works. Or at least it used to.

So a cop is chasing a fleeing criminal and they're supposed to assume that he is not armed? You want to show me a cite for that?

posted by cjets at 02:05 PM on May 05

As an aside, I think so much of one's position on this depends on whether or not they think a taser is non-lethal.

I think most of us agree that physical force should be used to stop someone in this situation. The question seems to be whether or not the Taser was excessive force.

I think it was excessive. But I can also understand why a cop would rather tase some moron running on the field than try and physically subdue them with the dangers inherent in doing that.

posted by cjets at 02:09 PM on May 05

I think so much of one's position on this depends on whether or not they think a taser is non-lethal

Probably true, but not so for me. For me it's the fact we didn't have TASERs for hundreds of years and yet managed to stave off anarchy. Now that we do have them, they've become the first option in too many cases. I know being a cop is a tough job and it seems like it gets harder year by year, but I think some of that difficulty stems from the growing divide between law enforcement and civilians and the lack of dialog from either side. Easy to say, I know.

posted by yerfatma at 02:59 PM on May 05

So a cop is chasing a fleeing criminal and they're supposed to assume that he is not armed? You want to show me a cite for that?

1. Not really a 1:1 comparison. How is some dope on a field he can't get off of a "fleeing" "criminal"?

2. Want to show me all the suspects shot in the back by cops in your state this year? Can't imagine there are a ton. Even the police aren't happy about trying to impose a fixed set of rules of engagement for all situations in all locations. Rather your vision* of cops shooting every suspects who runs away, the LAPD doesn't even let cops fire at moving vehicles being used as a weapon.

I thought this bit from the link was germane to the discussion (as opposed to me cherry-picking bits that fit my thesis):

"The mind-set of police administrators in a community like that is going to be different than police administrators working in a rural setting, where for the most part people are law abiding and support police. If somebody there is shot or TASERed by police, they are more likely to shrug their shoulders than engage in any violent disobedience. We've got to make that concession."
* Easy, I'm joking

posted by yerfatma at 03:06 PM on May 05

How is some dope on a field he can't get off of a "fleeing" "criminal"?

He ran onto the field of play knowing it was a criminal act. When confronted, he fled rather than be arrested. It may be a minor crime but it still makes him a fleeing criminal.

Want to show me all the suspects shot in the back by cops in your state this year?

I googled "los angeles police shootings".It came back with 3,210,000 hits. I don't know how many were in the back.

Even the police aren't happy about trying to impose a fixed set of rules of engagement for all situations in all locations. Rather your vision* of cops shooting every suspects who runs away, the LAPD doesn't even let cops fire at moving vehicles being used as a weapon.

No, my vision is one of nuance where an experienced cop makes a lightning fast evaluation based on the specific facts of the situation. I said in my earlier posts that I thought physical force is a necessity but that the taser was excessive.

However, based on other incidents (Gamboa, Seles and others), I could understand why a cop would use a taser. It appears to me that you are the one who wants a bright line rule, i.e. never use a taser to subdue someone running onto the field. And, for the most part, I could agree with it.

Now that we do have them [tasers] , they've become the first option in too many cases.

I couldn't agree more.

I know being a cop is a tough job and it seems like it gets harder year by year, but I think some of that difficulty stems from the growing divide between law enforcement and civilians and the lack of dialog from either side. Easy to say, I know.

I'm not sure how running onto the field like a moron (drunk or otherwise) and resisting arrest does anything but disservice to that dialogue

posted by cjets at 03:53 PM on May 05

How do the cops and security guards chasing him know he's not armed?

Because it's the same cops and security guards that frisked him and checked his bags before he came into the stadium that day.

posted by grum@work at 04:12 PM on May 05

Because it's the same cops and security guards that frisked him and checked his bags before he came into the stadium that day.

The Ligues had a knife that they managed to sneak past security. As did Gunther Parch and (in airports) countless others trying to unmask the TSA as incompetent. (Spoiler alert: They succeeded).

Do you really think it would be difficult to smuggle a knife or boxcutter into a stadium?

posted by cjets at 04:21 PM on May 05

No - so why haven't we had a slew of public murders on our hands at stadiums?

Hey, if you want to live in a place where any transgression will be met by the greatest application of force available, then you and I want to live in different places.

There is no difference between a man running onto a field and a man running into your house if you view the safety of others as equal to your own. If you don't mind the occasional stabbing or first-base coach beating, I can understand your view.

There is a substantial difference. At the stadium there is security personnel, trained to handle such situations. One presumably also has a few thousand people in it.

And you keep bringing up the two examples and insist that they be the standard by which all others are measured. That's a bit hysterical. By that reasoning security should just shoot any trespasser just to be sure.

Lowest crime rates of all-time but you would rather treat everyone as a potential murderer. Something not right with that picture.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 06:31 PM on May 05

Do you really think it would be difficult to smuggle a knife or boxcutter into a stadium?

Did the kid have a boxcutter in his hand? Did he make any motion towards retrieving a weapon from his pockets? Or were the security guards afraid he'd quickly MacGuyver his hat, towel, and belt in deadly weapon?

Did they really think he was going to escape custody? That he'd leap into the stands and disappear?

Was he looking at charging at a player/umpire?

If the answer is no to all these questions, I fail to see any reason to use a taser on the kid.

posted by grum@work at 08:21 PM on May 05

Jeez guys, Read my fucking posts. Seriously. Here's what I said:

No, my vision is one of nuance where an experienced cop makes a lightning fast evaluation based on the specific facts of the situation. I said in my earlier posts that I thought physical force is a necessity but that the taser was excessive.

posted by cjets at 09:15 PM on May 05

I'm guessing you didn't read what I wrote.

No, it just didn't get through my thick skull. My apologies.

I spoke with four Ontario Provincial Police officers this afternoon. They were split down the middle.

Two of them said they would not have tasered the fan because they felt he posed no real threat to anyone and would have run himself tired shortly. The other two felt it was best to subdue him as quickly as possible to minimize the possible harm to both those around him and to the fan himself.

All four, however, felt there was no ethical issue in using the taser. All of them carry one, have been trained to use it and could understand why it was used. They didn't necessarily agree with it, but understood.

I get where the rest of most of you are coming from. I just don't agree that you wait around for someone ignoring direct orders from a police officer to further reveal his or her intentions. You drop that person in the most expedient fashion possible.

And you keep bringing up the two examples and insist that they be the standard by which all others are measured. That's a bit hysterical. By that reasoning security should just shoot any trespasser just to be sure.

I think Hugh will be all for protecting both of us.

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:03 PM on May 05

Perhaps not surprisingly, coaches and players support the tasering.

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:12 PM on May 05

Yeah, I read that too, and to be honest - I can see the point, I just think that's not the precedent we need.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:49 PM on May 05

posted by grum@work at 08:37 AM on May 06

Where'd you lift the cartoon, Grum -- The Paranoiac Standard?

Although I could totally get behind tasering smokers.

Yeah, I read that too, and to be honest - I can see the point, I just think that's not the precedent we need.

Understood, Weedy, but the precedent set the other way could be a dead umpire or player. You can't works backwards from dead to correct the policy.

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:44 AM on May 06

And grum's cartoon is paranoid?

posted by cl at 10:10 AM on May 06

Suppose it depends on where your trust lies, cl -- fans running around on fields or cops?

I know where mine is.

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:33 AM on May 06

No - so why haven't we had a slew of public murders on our hands at stadiums?

Because we don't have slews of public murders anywhere, because there just aren't slews of murderers in the population. Most people aren't murderers, and if they read in the paper that the cops have taken their tasers away, they're not going to say, "Oboy! Here's my chance!" and become murderers.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:39 AM on May 06

Where'd you lift the cartoon, Grum -- The Paranoiac Standard?

It's from Tony Auth, a Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartoons. He works for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

posted by grum@work at 10:53 AM on May 06

Suppose it depends on where your trust lies, cl -- fans running around on fields or cops?

Given the ratio of running-fans : injuries vs cops-with-tasers : injuries, I'll go with the fans running around on the field.

posted by grum@work at 10:55 AM on May 06

Phillies to police: We'll handle it.

"The police department is conducting an investigation into the use of the Taser gun on the field jumper on Monday night," the [team's] statement read. "The Phillies have had discussions at the same time with the police department concerning incidents of field intrusion. It has been agreed that in ordinary circumstances involving field intrusion, the Phillies' game-day security personnel will make the apprehension of the field jumper and turn him over to the Philadelphia police on the field for handcuffing and subsequent charging."

posted by cl at 11:53 AM on May 06

I was hoping to elicit some responses to the Phillies' decision from those of you who think the Taser was an acceptable (if not preferred) use of force.

The team basically took it upon itself to handle field runners with good old-fashioned slippy-shoed, windbreaker-clad security personnel (i.e. ushers). Should a tragedy occur in the future, it'll be the team's ass and not the PPD's. But the Phils seem to have calculated that the risk of PR damage from police apprehensions, with everything that can come with them, is greater than that from potential on-field attacks. And I would be surprised if MLB didn't advise them. I think they made the right call.

posted by cl at 12:17 AM on May 08

Given the undeniable fact that Tasers can cause death in rare situations, it seems highly excessive to use one on a fan running around a field who wasn't threatening anyone. The fan's not going anywhere -- the field is a confined space. If the fan had a heart attack out there, no one would be suggesting it was appropriate force.

It was a good shot, though. And the photo right before he takes it is hilarious.

There is no difference between a man running onto a field and a man running into your house if you view the safety of others as equal to your own.

A person in your house is a threat to you in a confined space. This guy was dozens of yards away from anybody, aside from his pursuers, and he was running away from them. I don't see the comparison.

Does anyone here really think the cop believed that someone was in danger at the moment he fired the Taser?

Of all the possible means of force that could be applied, I think that the TASER could be the least likely to cause damage that lasts longer than a few minutes.

The Taser's the only force with any real chance of killing him. If Tasers didn't occasionally kill people, I think there'd be much less criticism of the cop's action.

posted by rcade at 07:50 AM on May 08

The Taser's the only force with any real chance of killing him.

Unfortunately not true. There are quite a few so-called "non-lethal methods" that have ended in death (and we're not talking about people with exceptionally weak hearts here, either). The Taser is one of many.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:23 PM on May 08

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