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Rapid City, SD — Caught on video shooting a handcuffed and unresponsive man 28 times with her Taser, a former Oglala Sioux police officer was acquitted Tuesday of assault and obstruction charges. Although the ex-cop would have continued tasing the barely coherent man lying on the ground, concerned witnesses ordered her to stop abusing the handcuffed man and helped him into a patrol car.
On August 15, 2014, Oglala Sioux Police Officer Rebecca Sotherland responded to a call reporting two intoxicated men passed out on the front lawn of a residence on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Sotherland arrived at the scene and found Jefferson Eagle Bull unresponsive on the ground. Instead of calling for paramedics or backup, Sotherland placed Eagle Bull in handcuffs and attempted to drag him into her cruiser.
After Sotherland pulled out her Taser and began firing at Eagle Bull, a witness started recording the incident on cellphone video. Eagle Bull remained on the ground as Sotherland stood over his body and tased him over two dozen times. With Sotherland clearly not using the Taser to defend herself, several witnesses initially refused to offer her any assistance because they feared that she would arbitrarily assault them.
Using her Taser 28 times on the nonviolent man, Sotherland finally ceased her relentless attack when witnesses ordered her to stop. Sotherland eventually called for backup while two passersby helped Eagle Bull to his feet and escorted him to the patrol car.
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Shortly after the incident, Sotherland was fired from the department and later indicted on August 26, 2014. She was charged with depriving Eagle Bull of his constitutional rights, assault with a dangerous weapon, and obstruction of a federal investigation by filing a false report of the incident.
During testimony on Friday, Sotherland claimed that Eagle Bull was "playing possum," refusing to cooperate by pretending to be passed out. Sotherland contended that Bull was able to "play possum" through dozens of doses of 50,000 volts each. Sadly, the police state dependent jury bought her story.
On Tuesday, the jury found her not guilty of all three charges. After the verdicts were read in U.S. District Court, Sotherland told the Rapid City Journal that she was not surprised by the outcome “because I did nothing wrong.”
Apparently, Sotherland believes that using a Taser against a handcuffed and unresponsive man 28 times is perfectly acceptable behavior.
But according to federal guidelines, Sotherland was in complete violation. She used the taser far too many times on the man, at levels capable of inflicting serious injury or death, according to federal guidelines.
Although she would like to return to the force, Sotherland admitted, “I don’t know how it works.”