Tasering cannot be a substitute for talking to people respectfully and responsible investigation of an incident. A police officers job is to de-escalate violence with professional training - not to play bully with taser guns.
29 Jul 2009
MANASSAS, Va. - Prince William County Police responded to a noise complaint at a child's baptism party. By the time they left, a grandfather and a pregnant woman had been Tasered.
On Tuesday night, a Manassas family said cops went too far. The 55-year-old homeowner is a church family counselor and a bible study teacher. He says he was hosting a party for his new godchild.
However, he and the pregnant mother of the baptized boys face serious charges. Relatives are charging police used excessive force just to quiet down the backyard party.
Family members say it was supposed to be a happy day to celebrate the baptism of the two little boys. Home video captures the party moments before police arrive following a noise complaint. You can hear children's laughter above the sound of music.
Edgar Rodriguez says the backyard celebration came to an abrupt halt. After some confusion, his 55-year-old father, Edgar Rodriguez, Sr. says he was asked for an ID and handed it over. Then, he was Tasered three times.
The elder Rodriguez explains how he pulls out his wallet. Interpreting for his father, Edgar says, "He took out his wallet. He had the license in his hand and gave his wallet to his wife. When he lifted up his hands with his license, he started feeling the electric shock in his back."
"All of a sudden he got Tasered in the back and then this side, and then officer in the front of him Tasered him from the front. My dad was not under arrest. We never heard anyone say you're under arrest," said Edgar Rodriguez, Jr.
Prince William County Police issued a statement confirming two people were Tasered at the Baptism party.
A spokesperson says, "The officers contacted the homeowner, who was highly intoxicated. The officers explained the noise ordinance to the homeowner, who refused several requests to turn down the loud music. Rodriguez began to act disorderly and refused to identify himself to officers."
The family's home video tape captures some moments as Rodriguez was Tasered, and then charged with public intoxication in his own backyard.
The pregnant mother of the baptized boys was Tasered, too. The family says the woman tried to help Rodriguez, who was on the ground. She was charged with assaulting a police officer.
"They Tasered her in the back. She didn't assault the officer. She was assaulted by officer," said Edgar, Jr. who was just steps away from his father.
The family calls it excessive force, and they say all of it happened in front of a yard full of children.
"When they came in they were in a defensive mode like we were criminals. Everyone felt that is how we got treated like criminals for celebrating a child's baptism," said Rodriguez.
The 25-year-old pregnant woman remains in custody tonight--separated from her family. After her arrest she was detained by immigration and customs enforcement.
The family says after hearing about the incident, the police chief has ordered an internal affairs investigation.
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