Violence is an everyday fact of life; most of the time it is men of a certain age - from teens to early 40s - who are responsible for it. For most men, however, even the most uncouth and thuggish of them, there are limits. Most men will not use violence against the elderly or against a woman who is visibly pregnant, even if they are on the receiving end of a verbal ear bashing. Needless to say, police officers are not most men, they have special powers, and with special powers comes, or should come, special responsibilities. Alas...
Earlier this month, Humberside Police came under fire from the Alzeimer's Society
for using a taser on a 59 year old farmer who was suffering from early onset dementia. Needless to say, the police took and continue to take
an entirely different view.
Last month, a younger man who was tasered under entirely different circumstances, complained about police brutality; Edric Kennedy-Macfoy was arrested in Harrow after police turned up to shut down a noisy party, and the scene turned nasty. Mr Kennedy-Macfoy was charged with obstructing police, when what he was actually attempting to do was assist them. Rather than being part of a mob, he was a firefighter who was driving home; he stopped when he saw a youth throw a rock at a police van
, and that was his reward. The incident actually happened in September of last year but it wasn't until the case against him was thrown out that he was able to make an issue of it. Mr Kennedy-Macfoy says he believes he was treated so because he is black. The good news is that is not the case; the bad news is that you better watch out too, whitey.
Bad as the British police may be, they have some way to go to catch up with their American cousins. Back in November 2004, the visibly pregnant Malaika Brooks became involved in an incident that should really never have occurred when she was stopped for speeding, and refused to sign an acknowledgment to this effect. She also refused to get out of her car; there can be no doubt that her behaviour was unreasonable, and that had she been a man she could have been arrested using reasonable force. But reasonable force used against one individual may not be reasonable when used against another under similar circumstances.
Malaika Brooks warned the police she was pregnant, all the same, they tasered her not once but three times. Regardless of any criminal charges, a case like this will surely end up in the civil courts, as it did, and as civil cases tend to, it dragged on and on. This judgment
is from March 2010.
Now, there appears to be some finality to this long running case, because this week the Supreme Court of the United States has declined to hear an appeal
by the officers concerned; the 9th Circuit had ruled they had used excessive force, but by the same token they are not to be held liable for their actions.
It should come as no surprise that Malaika Brooks is not a lone case; Tanisha Black of Union City was another motorist who was both visibly pregnant and subdued by a taser
by our so-called guardians, presumably because they were in fear of their lives.
The Brooks judgment is far from satisfactory, and clearly there is need of a law or at the very least some common sense direction on the use of these weapons against vulnerable people. Vulnerable is the word here, because a pregnant woman is not one person but two, and the possibility or even the likelihood of causing serious damage to a unborn child - or worse - is something that far outweighs the threat posed by a belligerent female who refuses to acknowledge a traffic violation.