Columbus, OH — When Martini Smith got enough courage to fight back against her abusive boyfriend, she never thought it would end up with her being locked in a cage and tortured by police with a taser. However, that is exactly what happened and the horrifying moment that subsequently led to her losing her unborn baby was captured on video.
Smith was half-naked, standing in a concrete cell in Franklin County Jail when corporal Matthew Stice shot her in her chest with his taser. Her crime? She couldn’t remove her tongue ring fast enough.
“Take the tongue ring out,” Deputy Shawnda Arnold said. However, Smith was struggling as her hands had been cuffed behind her for six hours and her numb fingers couldn’t grip the stud to unscrew it. She pleaded with police to get her a paper towel so she could get traction on the ring, but they refused.
“I will tase you!” barked Stice.
“I just want to go to sleep,” Smith cried.
Instead of getting the helpless pregnant woman a paper towel to help her remove the tongue ring, Stice barked his warning again and then shot the taser directly into Smith’s bare chest.
The surge of debilitating electricity caused the mother to be to collapse into the concrete wall and then to the floor. Smith cried out in agony, gasping as she tried to maintain a bit of her humanity while being tortured—half-naked—by a male cop.
“Why did you Tase me?” she moaned. “I wasn’t harming nobody. I can’t just take it out.”
Just five days later, Smith would have a miscarriage.
“It stays with me like it was yesterday,” Smith told Reuters of the Taser’s pain and the memory of her loss of the child.
Once police got all the facts of the case, the charges against Smith for fighting back against her abusive boyfriend were dropped. She was entirely innocent.
Those who pay attention and fight for police accountability know that Smith’s case is hardly an isolated incident.
“Don’t break the law and you have nothing to worry about,” the police apologists say. However, Smith had broken no law and was merely acting in self-defense against a man who beat her. Instead of getting the help she needed from police, Smith was kidnapped, locked in a cage, and tortured by them to the point of losing her baby.
In a scathing report, Reuters draws attention to this problem of cops torturing people with tasers.
Reuters identified 104 deaths involving Tasers behind bars, nearly all since 2000 – 10 percent of a larger universe of more than 1,000 fatal law enforcement encounters in which the weapons were used. Some of the in-custody deaths were deemed “multi-factorial,” with no distinct cause, and some were attributed to pre-existing health problems. But the Taser was listed as a cause or contributing factor in more than a quarter of the 84 inmate deaths in which the news agency obtained autopsy findings.
Of the 104 inmates who died, just two were armed. A third were in handcuffs or other restraints when stunned. In more than two-thirds of the 70 cases in which Reuters was able to gather full details, the inmate already was immobilized when shocked – pinned to the ground or held by officers.
Tasers have “high potential for abuse” behind bars, U.S. Justice Department consultant Steve Martin, a former general counsel for the Texas Department of Corrections who has inspected more than 500 U.S. prisons and jails told Reuters. “When you inflict pain, serious pain, for the singular purpose of inflicting pain, not to accomplish a tactical objective, what is that? It meets the definition of the legal standard of excessive force, but it’s also torturous.”
Highlighting the torturous nature of deploying a taser to inflict pain and punishment, in Smith’s case, it did nothing to remedy the problem with her tongue piercing. It only served to torture an innocent woman—and its results were deadly.
Sadly, this problem only seems to be getting worse. As TFTP reported earlier this year, an 18-year-old kid was tied down to a chair and tortured for being suspected of selling drugs. The video of the incident highlighted this disturbing practice.
In the extremely disturbing video, Cheatham County Sheriff’s Deputies are seen holding Jordan Norris down with a gag while another deputy sadistically and repeatedly deploys the taser. Naturally, Norris squirmed as the electricity ran through his body. His movement seemed to provoke the deputies who responded with more taser strikes.
At one part in the video, you can hear a deputy tell Norris, “I’ll keep doing that until I run out of batteries.”
Norris said he remembered deputies asking him, “Do you want me to do it again? We got a whole bunch of batteries we can drain into you pretty much. We will do it over and over until we have no more.”
When Norris was released from prison, he was covered in burn marks from the taser. Somehow he made it through the torture without his heart stopping.
Please share this story with others so that attention can be given to this horrifying torture taking place across the country at the hands of our ostensible protectors.