Independence, Mo. – What started out as a routine Sunday afternoon traffic stop in Independence, Missouri, took a tragic turn for 17-year-old, Bryce Masters, when he was tased by an officer and thrown to the pavement, subsequently leaving him in critical condition.
Masters, incapacitated from the 50,000 volts of electricity being discharged into his body, was thrown to the ground by the officer causing him to hit his head on the pavement, lose consciousness and stop breathing
According to KCTV 5, Masters was taken to an area hospital, where he remains in critical condition with brain swelling.
Law enforcement claims the teen refused to roll his window down and resisted arrest.
“There were several commands given by the officer that I need to speak with you, I need you to roll your window down. I believe he did crack the window to the point where the officer could see but he couldn’t get him to roll it down any further. He was just being completely uncooperative with the officer,” said Sgt. Darrell Schmidli.
Police claim the teen was warned several times he would be tased if he continued to resist. “There was a wrestling match behind the vehicle where he resisted,” said Maj. Terry Storey of the Independence, Mo. Police Department.
But several eye witnesses who have come forward are telling a completely different story, claiming there was little if any struggle as the officer tased Masters while he was still in the car and then threw him onto the pavement where he hit his head.
One of those witness, Curtis Martes, 17, whose house Masters was on his way to play video games at when the incident occurred, went out to his porch when he heard Masters car pull up and was surprised to see a cop parked behind Masters. He claims that Masters couldn’t roll his window down because the window was broken and would only partially roll down.
“I hear him say from my porch he’s like ‘I can’t roll down my window it’s broke.’ The window’s they’re broke, the cable that allows the windows to be rolled down, I don’t know what it’s called it’s messed up so his windows don’t roll down all the way like they’ll kind of just inch down and stop at a certain point,” said Curtis Martes
Martes went on to describe what he saw, “He was like ‘what am I being arrested for?’ The cop just grabbed him and said ‘you’re under arrest.’ He threw him on the ground and busted his face up. In the midst of it I was just thinking I need to get ahold of Bryce’s dad cause Bryce’s dad is a cop and I don’t, I just thought that’s not the way that cops should handle it, he was just way too aggressive.”
Another witness, Michelle Baker, who lives next door to where Masters was pulled over grabbed her cell phone to record when she heard screams coming from the street.
“He pulled him out of the car, handcuffed him then drug him around the car then let him fall and it looked like he hit his face on the concrete, you could see blood coming out of his mouth and the cop put his foot on his back and moved it back and forth like he was putting a cigarette out and asked him ‘are you ready to get up now?’ You could tell the kid was going into convulsions. He turned him over and his head was dangling like this and he had blood coming out,” said Baker.
Five minutes went by in the cell phone video that witnesses say show the teen not breathing.
As is all too common, law enforcement officers often attempt to use aggressiveness to assert their perceived dominance on those they wish to dominate.
Would it be any surprise if the perceived non-compliance of Masters, by not rolling down the window, although perhaps not even physically possible for him to do if it was broken, caused the officer to act in a more irrational and aggressive manner?
Did the officer intend to attempt to force the teen, through physical violence, to respect his perceived authority as he felt he was being challenged by the failure of Masters to comply with his commands?
Over zealous cops often raise their voice and attempt to get physical when their commands aren’t immediately met, as if their magic costume or shiny badge allows them new found authoritarian rights permitting them to usurp the civil liberties of others.
The fact that another teen is in critical condition due to the brutality and militarized mentality of domestic law enforcement speaks to true nature of our current militarized law enforcement apparatus and their training methods.
Officers are indoctrinated through their training to believe they are in a war and the US streets are the battlefield. The public is idealized as the enemy in a typical ‘us vs them’ warrior mentality. With cops being trained to think of our cities as war zones and the public as the enemy, is it really any surprise innocent citizens are being beaten, battered and killed by them at such an alarming rate?
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis and on Facebook at Sir Metropolis.