A Utah man is expected to file a federal civil rights lawsuit soon against the sheriff's deputies who tasered him six times after being pulled over in May. His initial crime -- his license plate wasn't hanging properly. Police say they tasered him because he was resisting.
Immediately after Bruce Harper was pulled over, a Davis County Sheriff's Deputy yelled out "Stay in your car, stay in your car." But Harper got out, and that's where the trouble began.
He refused the deputy's demand to get back into the car. Then he refused orders to turn around and put his hands on his head. In fact, with his gun drawn, the deputy yelled "turn around" more than 60 times. Harper kept pleading with the deputy to tell him what he had done wrong, at one point even asking "are you going to shoot me?" But the deputy kept telling him to turn around.
Finally, the deputy yelled "taser," and Harper was hit with shooting electrodes. In the effort to subdue him, Harper said he was tasered five or six more times. Harper was acquitted at trial a few weeks ago of the resisting charge, but was found guilty of failing to properly display his license plate.
Harper's attorney, Mark Flores, told Salt Lake City's ABC 4, "I still find it unbelievable that someone can get pulled over for a crooked front license plate... and somehow ends up getting tasered six times."
When asked why Harper didn't follow the deputy's orders, Flores said simply, “He was afraid."
This incident raises several questions. First, did the deputies go too far on just a routine traffic stop? The media uses the term "routine traffic stop" liberally, but ask any cop, and they will tell you no traffic stop is "routine." They say you never know who is inside that car, what kind of weapon they may have, and what they are capable of. So when Harper got out of the car and refused to follow orders, he was treated as a possible deadly threat. Police have procedures for this, and this deputy was just following them.
But looking at it from Harper's point of view, he knows he didn't do anything wrong, so why is he being pulled over? And when he asks the deputy who has a gun trained on him what he did, the deputy refuses to answer, only to repeat "turn around" over and over again. That had to be frustrating for Harper. And then to apparently taser him over and over again as he yells out in agony, well, you can see why Harper would file a lawsuit.
Every law enforcement organization says when in a situation like this, just follow the orders of the officer, and everything will be all right. After watching what happened to Bruce Harper, that is probably advice worth following.