November 8, 2009

Public Rally to Protest Police Response to Taser-Killing of Michael Jacobs

This blog has been reporting on the increased number of taser-related deaths in America since the beginning of the year. One of the men killed was 24-year old Michael Jacobs. Ft. Worth police officer Stephanie A. Phillips shocked Jacobs twice with a Taser — once for 49 seconds and once for five seconds. Phillips told a detective that the first jolt was longer because "she unknowingly kept the Taser trigger engaged." She remains on active duty.

The decision by the police to allow Officer Phillips to remain on duty was the catalyst for over 50 people to march through downtown Fort Worth. The protestors called for police to stop using Tasers and punish Phillips for her involvement in the April death of Michael Jacobs, a mentally ill man. [SOURCE]

Jacobs’ death was ruled a homicide by the Tarrant County medical examiner and will be reviewed by a grand jury.

"I’m really grateful to this big old crowd for speaking on behalf of my son," said Charlotte Jacobs, Michael’s mother.

The protesters walked from the Fort Worth municipal building to the Tarrant County Courthouse carrying U.S. flags and signs, some of which read "Lazy Cops Taser" and "Tasers trample the Constitution."

The death occurred after police responded to a call from Jacobs’ parents that he was being disruptive. Police said the officer used the Taser after Jacobs became combative.

Jacobs’ family has filed a wrongful-death suit. Last month, an attorney for the family said witnesses have disputed claims that he fought with police.

On Oct. 16, Police Chief Jeff Halstead announced that his department had finished its investigation of Jacobs’ death and provided copies of the report to the FBI and Justice Department. He said officers would get more training in how to deal with mentally ill people and in the use of force. Personally, I hope that we hear more from the federal government ... either the Justice Department or congressional hearings.

Rev. Kyev Tatum, president of the Tarrant County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and organizer of the protest march, said that Tasers inflict cruel and unusual punishment on the community and that their use must stop.

I encourage all bloggers to join the Day of Blogging for Justice: Stop Taser Torture scheduled to take place on December 4, 2009. It's time to break the cycle of taser-related deaths in America!

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