Police officers run the gamut, from really good ones, those are the guys people tend to refer to as officer friendly, all the way on down the scale to the one who thinks that because he has the badge and the gun he rules the world, some of these will tell you, “I am the law!” From the video below it is really not clear if officer Eric Hart of the Washington Township Police Dept. in Ohio is one of the bad ones, he may be somewhere in the middle, but he certainly isn’t “Officer Friendly.”
Officer Hart has been placed on paid administrative leave after the video surfaced on Youtube showing him waving his tazer in the face of Aaron Tatkowski and his daughter-in-law Casandra Meyers as they lay on the ground with their hands cuffed behind their backs. He also has on the ground Meyers 14-year-old son. At one point during the event he is seen grabbing the boy by the arm and shouting at him,“When a police officer asks you to do something, that’s what you listen to.”
There are some conflicts in the various stories so it is not very clear exactly what did happen. The video begins with Tatkowski, Meyers and her son on the ground and officer Hart standing over Tatkowski waving his taser in his face as they argue. Tatkowski says that he drove up and found Hart blocking his driveway. He claims that when he got out to ask Hart to move his car he was told to get back in his truck, according to him he complied and was immediately pulled from the cab by Hart who threw him to the ground and cuffed him.
Washington Township Police Chief, Christopher Kaiser said, “He’s not in trouble, but to keep things above-board, we put him on administrative leave until an internal investigation is fully complete. “I’m not saying he did anything wrong, but we’re trying to show we’re not trying to sweep this under the rug or cover it up.”
Tatkowski was charged with misconduct at an emergency, obstructing official business, and resisting arrest. He was released on his own recognizance after entering a plea of not guilty. Meyers was also charged with obstructing official business, tampering with evidence, fictitious plates, and a tax payment warrant, she too was released after pleading not guilty.
All of the parties involved were in a heightened emotional state and it is difficult to tell especially without having the initializing event on the video but it does appear that officer Hart was not on his best professional behavior and so probably does bear some of the blame for this situation getting out of hand. We will have to wait for the outcome of the investigation to see who was most to blame but there is no really good reason for any officer ever brandishing his taser in the face of an already subdued individual, no matter how argumentative he is.