August 16, 2011

Taser Death: Pierre Abernathy (San Antonio, TX)

It happened again! This time a 30-year old man in San Antonio, TX was killed by taser-happy cops who couldn't figure out another way to deal with a person showing disrespect for getting a traffic ticket. The taser-killing happened in front of the man's family.

The initial call was for a wrong way driver. Police followed Pierre Abernathy, the driver, all the way to his mother's house.
Once the driver was out of the car officers attempted to handcuff him. They got one handcuff on and then he started to resist. Then he broke free,” according Police Chief Bill McManus.
I'm fairly certain that the maximum penalty for 'resisting arrest' is NOT death!

Four officers tried to make the arrest. But Chief McManus says, at about 6’2 and weighing more than 200 pounds, Abernathy was too much for them. McManus explained a taser was used to try and subdue the man; but that didn't work. That’s when police tried to use a K-9 dog to take Abernathy down.

Abernathy's family watched all of this go down from just feet away. Lee Griffin, Pierre’s brother, says his entire family was screaming at the officers that Pierre was a paranoid schizophrenic and was begging them to stop.
"He was already on the ground and they continually tased him while he was already on the ground, laying motionless,” Griffin remembers. “He wasn't saying anything. He wasn't responding and they killed my brother right in front of me."
While the department investigates, the four officers involved are on administrative duty.

The Abernathy family know Pierre wasn't perfect, but he was human and didn't deserve to die like this.
That was over, over, overly excessive. How many tasers does it take,” Tiffany Allen, Pierre’s sister, questioned. “That's what I have to ask the police department. One? Two? Cause this was about eight to ten.”
The police appear to have difficulty dealing with people who have mental illness. This isn't the first time that a mentally-ill person has been killed by taser-happy police officers. When will they learn?


Russ said...

How would you have handled the situation?

When the Taser device is activated with a good probe spread, the subject should be motionless, that is how it works! Ideally the officer would move to cuff him during the deployment. 8-10 activations is too many, they should move to another tool. The first one that didn't work probably missed, had a small probe spread or a clothing disconnect.

Villager said...

Russ - Thank you for your candor and expertise. Out of curiosity ... does the 'use of force continuum' train officers to escalate from taser gun to handgun if the taser gun is deemed to be ineffective in controlling the suspect?

Russ said...

The "use of force continuum" differs between departments. Some departments consider carotid as last resort prior to firearm. Officers in our department are taught that if one tool is not working to move to the next. There is no hierarchy other than our policy is to use Taser devices when verbal and control holds are not feasible. Taser devices, baton, OC, personal body weapons, carotid, beanbag, 40mm are all equal and less than a firearm. The task is to train so that officers have restraint in escalating force if it is not required because events occur and change rapidly and chaoticly.

Villager said...

Russ - Thank you for the insights re: the 'use of force continuum'. I hope you realize that I appreciate your expertise and your willingness to share it with us.

Villager said...

All - Police who tased Pierre Abernathy multiple times until he died have been cleared of any wrongdoing. Read more...

TigerLily said...

This is an abomination! I just heard about this and am outraged. Am working on a documentary to cover this story. In the meantime, I thought I'd share this interesting bit of info:

I don't believe this is a "minority" problem, though I can't deny that abuse is much more prevalent against minorities (I'm brown.) There are two types of people in America - tax payers and tax users. Cops, legislators, and bureaucraps are tax USERS and they are murdering us and getting away with it. And lame stream media is in their pocket. We all need to get our cameras and start documenting this and spreading the word. Shame our new "masters" we who are not in the government "club" are the slaves.

Pilove said...

TigerLily are you still documenting this murder?