Exactly two years ago, two (now former) police officers horrifically and repeatedly tasered a woman who was described as obviously mentally disabled. It was an act so unnecessary, and rife with sadism, that a United States District Court Judge was compelled to give actual prison time – incredibly rare and noteworthy. The firing of officers Eric Walters and Franklin Brown is incredible enough, although the incident did rock Marion, SC residents, especially since the woman, 40-year-old Melissa Davis, was well known in the community.
Just how sadistic was this particular incident? Not only did the two officers need not electrocute her to begin with, but it’s clear from court documents that they were getting their jollies from what happened next. Even more pathetic, are the actual sentences.
Sadly, it started when Davis left the yard of a house for sale and was immediately targeted as a suspect of breaking in. Walters asked a question and blasted her with a taser. As if that were not perturbing enough, because tasers are not ostensibly meant for that purpose, it just gets more twisted from there.
A story about the incident, when it happened, based information off the now questionable police report which portrays an officer talking to Davis and explaining he would detain her before she allegedly takes off running, fights to get free, would not “comply” and might get away in order to justify repeated shocks. Prosecuted had a different account, and held that her mental condition should have been obvious.
Here is a summary of what happened according to court documents:
- First shock takes place, Davis falls to ground, head is injured
- Ordered to place hands behind back while having been electrocuted, but again, given no time…
- Shocked four more times by Walters while on ground
- Brown arrives for backup. Walters decides to take probes out of back, determining she had done nothing wrong (because Brown had checked the house out)
- But guess what? Brown alleged that one of her hands was loose from the cuffs so he shocked her three times. She was witnessed in hand cuffs, on curb and surrounded by other officers
- Then…(presumably) Brown offered to let her go if she would submit to getting shocked one more time in the forehead
- Brown told the other officers that he shocked her because he “did not want to touch that nasty b*tch”
- A previous report notes the EMS treated her for bleeding from the left eye area
- SLED investigation ordered by Police Chief Jim Grey
A vulnerable, handicapped woman shocked at least eight times while in an even more vulnerable position. Getting ridiculed and treated like an object; a toy of sadism. Walters and Brown admitted in court that she never posed any threat to them and pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of rights and unreasonable force. (It takes an obscene amount of force to get that charge.)
Judge Bryan Harwell found the behavior “inappropriate” and “unnecessary.” He was moved to sentence the two perpetrators, but only for the minimum amount of time based on federal guidelines. Walters received 12 months and a day and Brown received 18 months. They will reside in an out-of-state corrections institute with preferential consideration for their former law enforcement status. The maximum recommendation was up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Bill Nettles, United States attorney for South Carolina, said:
Law enforcement officers are entrusted with the state’s police powers to maintain and restore order. In this case, the officers abused that authority, and purposefully hurt the victim who at the time posed no threat to these officers or anyone else. No just society can tolerate this sort of abuse by those who wear the badge.
Davis, who has long required a caretaker, continues to suffer night terrors, sweats, trauma, emotional upsets and is only now starting to talk about what happened. A federal law suit seeks at least $2 million for damages and civil rights violations.
A case could be made for attempted homicide as tasers are not playthings – they have already killed over 500 people. Officers ARE trained on them and are subjected to shocks so they know what they are wielding. This does not seem to impart much empathy. Tasers were hailed as a way to replace shootings in apprehending potentially dangerous suspects, but unfortunately they are being used as makeshift torture devices when the opportunity presents. Sadly, the mentally impaired and disabled appear to be targeted for their use.
- The Insidious Response from SC Officers Who Tased Autistic Man
- Officer Fired For Helping Suicidal Student Instead of Tasing
- No Real Limitations on Tasers Used for Minor Infractions or Just Because
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