Blytheville, AR — The body cam video from a Blytheville police officer was released this week showing a glaring case of excessive and unnecessary force with a taser. The victim in the video has since filed a lawsuit against the department.
According to police documents, the officer was responding to a non-violent domestic argument. Chardrick Mitchell’s ex-girlfriend called police on July 4 after she alleged he wouldn’t let her into his apartment to get her clothing she left inside.
When officer Stephen Sigman showed up, he asked Mitchell for his name and told him to let his ex-girlfriend in to get her things. According to the court documents, Mitchel “politely refused.”
Mitchell was seen in the video yelling at the woman. However, no crime was committed and it was unclear whether or not his ex-girlfriend actually had any of her property inside his house.
Attorney James W. Harris, who filed the case Wednesday in Mississippi County Circuit Court on behalf of Mitchell, explained that the officer became increasingly angry with Mitchell and threatened to charge him with obstruction.
The lawsuit then accuses Sigman of using a taser when Mitchell walked toward the apartment’s front door. According to the suit, Sigman told Mitchell that he was under arrest “either at the moment the [taser] was fired or just as the [taser] was striking Mr. Mitchell in the back.”
We can see in the video, as Mitchell stands up from the car to walk away, Sigman immediately and without warning tasers him. Only after he’d fired the taser does Sigman tell Mitchell that he’s under arrest.
After he was tased, Sigman arrested Mitchell and charged him with obstruction of justice, disorderly conduct and refusal to submit to arrest.
“At no time did Mr. Mitchell resist arrest, especially since he had already been [tased] when he was first told he was under arrest, even though he had at that point committed no possible criminal act,” the document reads in part.
According to Harris, the description of the incident in the police report does not match the body camera video. Sigman said that he tasered Mitchell because he told him that he was under arrest but he kept walking. However, from the body camera video, we can see that this is a lie.
Sigman is seen lying on the video as well. Sigman said he told Mitchel that he was under arrest before he tasered him. However, that is not seen on the video.
“I am appalled at the actions of Officer Sigman, as well as the inaction of Chief [Ross] Thompson in correcting this officer’s gross misconduct,” Harris said, noting that Sigman remains on the police force.
Whether or not you agree with Mitchell’s behavior in the video below, the fact remains that officer Sigman unnecessarily tasered him and then lied about it. When officers are allowed to callously dole out punishment like this, the public suffers.
Had Mitchell fallen and hit his head, he could have been seriously injured as a result of this officer’s unnecessary escalation. Time and again, we see officers needlessly tasering people and end up causing serious physical harm and even death.
UPDATE: In January of 2017, Mitchell was awarded $35,000 in a civil settlement.
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