Police in Georgia Taser Schoolteacher

Published July 16, 2010

A 57-year old school-teacher living in rural Georgia calls the cops to report a prowler. The cops respond by tasering her repeatedly.The woman’s name is Janice Wells and much of what happened to her in front of her house was recorded by the camera on the dash of Lumpkin police officer Ryan Smith’s patrol car.


In the video, Wells, who is hidden from camera view because she was reportedly laying on the pavement in the fetal position after being  pepper-sprayed by Richland  police officer Tim Murphy, can be heard pleading, "Don't do that! Don't do that!"


"Get in the car. Get in the car. You're going to get it again," Smith answered.
The two police officers are off the force after the incident. Smith, who allegedly tasered wells 12 times, but claims he only tasered her three times, resigned after  eight days but remains unrepentant. 


"I did what I had to do to take control of the situation," Smith told the Atlanta Journal Constitution about his decision to repeatedly discharge his taser. Lumpkin Police Chief Steven Ogle says the video is shocking.


Murphy was fired after admitting he used pepper-spray when trying to arrest Wells.


While it’s good the cops were relieved of their duty, we have to ask ourselves, when all the madness stop? When will African Americans get the protection from the police that they pay for? Wells a tax-payer and teacher is tasered after calling the police for help. Why didn’t it matter that she was the one who called the cops?  The struggle reportedly arose because she wouldn't answer questions about her neighbor who was waiting with her until the cops got there. When she refused, the responding officer called for backup and that’s when the police officer from Lumpkin showed up with a taser, prepared to zap.

We as a society need to check ourselves. Cops have to learn to exercise control and must be held accountable for their actions. We hear about case after case … from Oscar Grant to Ayana Jones to Oscar Grant, cops using excessive force in the field with little or no repercussions. 


We, as a society, have to stop endorsing this approach. We have created, and tolerated, a world where police officers who tase school-teachers are allowed to continue to patrol the streets.


Unfortunately, no criminal charges are pending in the case, according the Lumpkin city attorney. He said that the GBI and Southwest Circuit District Attorney's office have both declined taking on the case due to "no indication of criminal misconduct." Meanwhile, Janice Wells is threatening to sue the city and has hired an attorney. Wells told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview, “All of it’s just unreal to me. I was scared to death. He kept tasing me and tasing me. My fingernails are still burned. My leg, back and my butt had a long scar on it for days.”

 

Written by <P>By Betsy Jones, BET News</P>

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