Rapid City, SD – In August of 2014, Rebecca M. Sotherland, a police officer formerly employed for the Oglala Sioux Tribe, was videotaped tazering a citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe 17 times while he laid unresponsive on the ground on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Sotherland was indicted by a federal grand jury only days after the brutal incident and charged with violating the constitutional rights of 33-year-old Jeff Eagle Bull, by repeatedly using her Taser on him.
The federal trial for the indicted former officer began earlier this week. If found guilty, Sotherland faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The video footage shows Eagle Bull screaming in pain as he lay on the ground repeatedly being shocked with electricity by the officer. Never during the encounter did the man make any aggressive moves. Throughout the incident, he only lays on the ground writhing in pain screaming as he is being brutalized.
It’s obvious from the video footage that Sotherland wasn’t using the stun gun as a means of defense, as the man can be seen lying helplessly on the ground in handcuffs. She was using it as a means of sadistic punishment in an attempt to motivate him to get into her police cruiser.
Sotherland repeatedly yells at the helpless man to get in the car, eventually threatening that, “It’s gonna get you again,” referring to the 50,000 volts of electricity delivered by the tazer.
The disgraced cop continues screaming, “Hurry up! Get the car before it hits you again! Hurry up!” The brutal electrical assault continues as she keeps commanding the man to, “Get up and get in the car or it’s gonna get you again.”
Sotherland is seen on the now viral video standing over the top of a clearly helpless Eagle Bull. Eagle Bull was already in handcuffs and lying on the ground.
Finally in disgust the bystanders yell at the cop, “Let him go, quit tazing him! Just help him up! Just stop tazing him and help him up. One of these boys will help you.”
Sotherland responds, “You guys gonna help him up?” To which the onlooker says, “Yeah.” After that, a gentleman then can be heard saying, “I dunno, I don’t trust her myself,” referring to the cop after seeing what she has just done to the man on the ground.
At this point, a number of bystanders go over to assist the brutalized man into the police cruiser.
While the quick indictment of Sotherland was certainly a move in the right direction, it remains to be seen whether a South Dakota jury will actually hold the former officer accountable for her actions. Members of the tribe are skeptical that justice will actually be served, as South Dakota has a tenuous history with Native peoples.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, 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 been published on Ben Swann’s Truth in Media, Truth-Out, AlterNet, InfoWars, MintPress News, as well as many other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.