During the incident, Deputy Mercado-Vargas foolishly mistook Bennett's perfectly natural frustration - perhaps at being forced to deal with an idiot on a power trip - mistook the perfectly normal body language of frustration as a threat, and basically went ape-sh_t. Bennett was tasered twice and seriously roughed-up. Read the details here [LINK].
All the arguments about who was in the wrong in this stupid incident are resolved by the clear fact that all the charges against Mr. Bennett were tossed, and it is the El Paso County Commission that is currently rummaging around in their desk drawer looking for their cheque book.
One wag suggested that tasers make bad cops much worse. This incident seems to back up that opinion.
El Paso County commissioners voted today to pay $56,000 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit involving a Peyton man who was shot twice with a stun gun in 2007 by an El Paso County sheriff’s deputy following a traffic stop.
The $56,000 settlement, which will be paid to Jiles Theron Bennett, 48, and his wife, Jill, is only a portion of what the case will actually cost county taxpayers. In addition, El Paso County paid approximately $105,000 in legal fees and other costs associated with the federal lawsuit, El Paso County spokesman Dave Rose said today. The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s office also incurred the cost of two trials in county court involving the traffic citations and a misdemeanor stemming from the incident, as well an appeal. Bennett said he prevailed in both a trial before a judge and in a jury trial ... [LINK]
A frankly stupid series of bad decisions leads directly to huge settlement expense. And it seems clear to me that the deputy in this mindless incident would have been much less likely to escalate if he had not been equipped with a taser and brainwashed as to its appropriate application. Your opinion may vary, but I don't believe the deputy would have used any other weapon in the circumstances described. The taser is essentially unique in this regard, which makes it a very dangerous and financially expensive device.