A lot of police officers would do well to understand that not every perceived challenge of their authority requires the use of force. They would do well to understand that if their “suspect” isn’t presenting a clear danger to them or to others, it’s okay to prioritize common sense over their fragile blue egos and find a better and less dangerous way to assess a situation.
In other words: You really don’t need to Taser a 65-year-old panhandler in the back just because he ran from you.
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According to NBC News, on July 10, 2018, Atlanta Police Officer Jon Grubbs used a Taser to shock then-65-year-old Black man Jerry Blasingame during a foot chase after Grubbs caught Blasingame in the street asking drivers for money. According to a lawsuit filed by Blasingame’s attorney, Grubbs exited his patrol car and told Blasingame to stop. When Blasingame moved out of the street to a guard rail, Grubbs ran toward him.
“Grubbs gets out of the car and starts chasing my client—a 65-year-old man—and for what? For potentially asking people for money?” asked Blasingame’s attorney, Ven Johnson.
Blasingame, now 69, fell and broke his neck after being shot with Grubb’s stun gun and is now paralyzed from the neck down.
Jerry Blasingame now needs round-the-clock care costing $1 million a year, and has $14 million in medical bills so far, attorney Ven Johnson told jurors.
Jurors found that Officer Jon Grubbs used unreasonable force against Blasingame, who was 65 years old and had been asking drivers for money on July 10, 2018. He was paralyzed from the neck down and is now 69 years old.
Jurors found that the Atlanta Police Department should pay $60 million and Grubbs should pay $40 million, WXIA-TV and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The city has filed a motion for a directed verdict. A ruling from a judge on that motion may amend the jury’s verdict.
But Judge Steve Jones basically laid out the truth of the matter in his instructions to the jury.
“The record would allow the jury to find that Mr. Blasingame had not been committing a serious crime before he was tased/ that Officer Grubbs did not fear for his safety/ and that the exigent circumstances were not otherwise so severe as to permit Officer Grubbs’s use of force,” Jones wrote Friday.
That’s exactly it. A “back the blue” enthusiast will always argue that it’s a person’s own fault if they get hurt or killed running from police, but, when you think about it, cops prove citizens (especially Black people) have reason to fear them when they are literally the only ones on a scene to cause anyone physical harm.
Blasingame wasn’t an immediate danger to anyone. He was an elderly man who was down bad and in need of help. Now, he’s paralyzed from the neck down because a cop thought it was more important to assert his authority than be humane.
It’s a shame and hopefully, Blasingame gets every last dime he is owed.
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