Skip to comments.Police Stun Gun Kills Teen with Bible
Posted on 10/31/2006 6:44:53 AM PST by Types_with_Fist
JERSEYVILLE, Ill. - A teenager carrying a Bible and shouting I want Jesus was shot twice with a police stun gun and later died at a St. Louis hospital, authorities said.
In a statement obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, police in Jerseyville, about 40 miles north of St. Louis, said 17-year-old Roger Holyfield would not acknowledge officers who approached him and he continued yelling, I want Jesus.
Police tried to calm the teen, but Holyfield became combative, according to the statement. Officers fired the stun gun at him after he ignored their warnings, then fired again when he continued struggling, police said.
Holyfield was flown to St. Louis Cardinal Glennon Hospital after the confrontation Saturday; he died there Sunday, police said.
An autopsy was planned for Tuesday.
The statement expressed sympathy to Holyfields family but said city and police officials would not discuss the matter further.
Calls Tuesday to Jerseyville Police Chief Brad Blackorby were not immediately returned. The department has been using stun guns for about five months, according to the statement.
In a report released in March, international human rights group Amnesty International said it had logged at least 156 deaths across the country in the previous five years related to police stun guns.
The rise in deaths accompanies a marked increase in the number of U.S. law enforcement agencies employing devices made by Taser International Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz. About 1,000 of the nations 18,000 police agencies used Tasers in 2001; more than 7,000 departments had them last year, according to a government study.
Police had used Tasers more than 70,000 times as of last year, Congress Government Accountability Office said.
Amnesty International has urged police departments to suspend the use of Tasers pending more study. Taser International said the groups count was flawed and falsely linked deaths to Taser use when there has been no such official conclusion.
The city of St. Louis also drew unwanted attention for crime this week when it was named the most dangerous U.S. city by Morgan Quitno Press. The ranking looked only at crime within St. Louis city limits, not its metro area.
Well, isn't that something...
I guess you have to take appropriate defensive action when someone is coming at you with a Bible.
Once again, lazy/incompetent cops think the Taser is an electric squirt gun, not, as intended, a weapon to be used only when you think you need to kill the guy.
"I want Jesus "
Well, I guess he got his wish, but I'm sure that's not how he intended to find him.
Not enough details. He could have looked like he was going for a gun - in which case, would you have preferred that the cop empty the magazine of his regular firearm into the teen? Because that's the only other alternative in such a case.
I think we'll find that this kid was high on drugs and had a heart defect.
Exactly. Sounds pretty overreactive but do you expect all of the facts from the press?
Seems to me that unless he was threatening someone directly that this may be a case of ineptitude, at least based on what is in this particular story.
Someone who's acting strange, can be doing so for a number of reasons, menengitis, injury, mental illness, etc etc etc... It doesn't sound like the teen was threatening anyone directly, just acting strangely and ignoring the officers. Seems keeping folks away and handling it better than just force would have been more appropriate.
Sounds like the cops needlessly escalated the situation because someone didn't 'respect their authoritay."
Who knows what happened, I'm sure the facts will come out, maybe he was threatening others, but unless he was, it doesn't seem like the type of situation a taser would be called for.
There are enough details present -- and not present -- for me. If there was any way they could spin a scratch of the nose for "suspect appeared to be reaching for a gun", they would have.
And they've only been using the Tasers for five months. That says to me that, as a group, the PD really doesn't know what is likely to happen when they pull that trigger.
Sounds like a good lawsuit against someone.
Um.. he'd already been tazered once... and was down and struggling with them.. what exact gun was he going for when they tazered him again????
Sorry, but based on what little info is in this article, its hard to believe the cops didn't handle this situation poorly all the way around.
Now the facts will come out, and if the cops acted appropriately fine, but if some mentally unstable teen just died because a couple of cops screwed up royal they need taken to the woodshed.
At least they didn't shoot his dog.
Why do you suppose the stunned him twice?
Ah, those dangerous bible thumpers. I'm in St. Louis. No, this kid did not look like he was going for a gun. The police were scared because of his "extreme" religious position. Holding a bible and wanting Jesus. He has to be CRAZY. Hey Larry (with the GED education), stun him. Well Sgt. Bob (with a high school education), he is still struggling. Stun him again until he stops moving.
Duh Sarg....I think he would still be moving as we shock the hell out of him.
Perhaps the police thought he had one more thump left in his Bible. ;^)
Regarding police screw ups. Have you seen this?
Perhaps yelling that Name of all names incited some denizens from Hell?
Stupid police officers.
Before cops can carry Tasers, part of the certification process is that they have to be shot with it themselves. So I've been told.
Bet when the autopsy is done you won't be blaming the cops.
Death by government-appointed agents. Who says that we live in a free country?
Granted, this situation is extreme. I am sure the cops expected this to stun; in extreme rare cases, it can kill. In my town, a poor kid with 15 warrants on him ran from the cops (because his mama always told him you always run from the cops!), stopped in a dark ally, made a grab for his pants that they interpreted as a grab for a gun, and he got shot. (We had riots for days after, with Rhyming Reverends from out of town.)
I was always taught that when the nice policeman tells you to do something, you do it. You are perfectly free to challenge him, then and there. But worst case you are going to get put in a cell, and lawyers can help you then. Stay cool and cooperate.
Ten years ago, I had cop lights come on behind me. I pulled over, he came up to my window, checked my license, and knocked snow off the license plate. He then apologized for stopping me, and told me that somebody in a car like mine had robbed a bank, and he couldnt read my plate. He thanked me, and we both went on our way.
The cops should have been more careful, and the kid should have listened.
The kid sounds like he was having a psychotic episode.
I can defend one taser jolt. Two is unforgivable. The cop was just being lazy.
A stun gun is not a taser.
Well, he's pretty "calm" now.
A sad story. Somehow I think there's more to it than we're reading here.
Because they wanted to show him who was boss.
What the hell is wrong with that cop??
He should be fired! No if's, and's, or but's about it.
Well you are FREE to leave it.
File under, "Be Careful What You Ask For."
She. It is the cop that is standing that fires.
The black cop almost got killed by the female officer.
If it was a kid carrying a Koran screaming "I want Mohammed" there would be outrage EVERYWHERE today...
Hmmmm... I bet that's not what they tell the jury.
Just curious, why do YOU suppose they stunned him twice?
Couldn't tell from the video if it was she or he.
Looked like a 'he' to me, but then again, my eyesight isn't what it used to be.
I don't know. That's why I'm asking. Maybe because they trained them to do so?
Usually one stun is enough to incompacitate.
Has this become a crime to speak those words? Why would that deserve being tased?
All I know is, that was a spectacularly stupid thing to do.
It's amazing the office that was cuffing the guy wasn't shot.
the article said this kid turned "combative" and would not follow directions. that's enough to taze. but i think more will come out of this story to support the police.
i have seen guys tazed 4-5 times with limited results. all depends on what kind of drugs your on or your fat content. fat guys do not feel the effects of a tazer as much. the tazer affects your muscles, but if you have a lot of fat, the current cannot get down to the muscle as easily.
"Once again, lazy/incompetent cops think the Taser is an electric squirt gun, not, as intended, a weapon to be used only when you think you need to kill the guy."
This is another unintended consequence of feminism. In the old days, cops were expected to be physically competent to subdue suspects without deadly force, unless the suspect was wielding a deadly weapon himself.
In the old days they might have just wrestled him to the ground, or perhaps bopped him with night sticks a few times, and in all probability there would have been no fatality.
Now, though, you have to let biddy widdle bunny slippers girlywirls pretend that they're harness bulls, and this is the kind of crap you get.
And no, it doesn't matter whether there were any babes in uniform on this arrest or not. The changes are institutional and pervasive, extending to written procedures.
You are likely right, in that the police will likely be exonerated, providing the officers followed their dept.'s protocols. But that may be the underlying problem in situations like this. The protocols may not allow for more creative ways to handle situations like this.
For example, what if one of the officers told this person they would take him to Jesus if he would get in their squad car? Who knows if he would have, but given his diminished mental capacity, he might have complied with them at that point, and now tasering is not in order. Perhaps they tried this, but I would doubt it as that would likely be outside of the protocols. This tragic situation illustrates, IMHO, the difference between the old "peace officer" mentality versus the newer "law enforcement" mentality employed by most police departments, and which many other freepers have commented on over the years.
His comment was that working with physically weaker officers, usually women, was a greater threat to him and other physically stronger officers. Per the officer, in a confrontational situation with a beligerent suspect, he would be most at risk if violence would erupt. The suspect would assess the more physically powerful officer as the greater threat and would want to eliminate that threat first, then go after the weaker officer second, as they would be considered less of a threat.