“Is this the hill you want to die on?” – Anon
On July 16th in Cashion, Oklahoma, 65-year-old Debra Hamil was tased and arrested by Officer Charles Massine during a traffic stop which originated due to a broken tail light on Hamil’s vehicle.
Hamil has been charged on two counts:
1- Battery/Assault and Battery on a police officer
2- Resisting an officer
Video from Officer Massine’s body camera has been released by Cashion PD. I’ve included a decent version of it below. [I haven’t located the complete video posted somewhere that could be linked. What’s missing from this one is how pleasant and courteous the officer was to leading up to her belligerence, and, how her attitude didn’t change once she was in the back of his police car. Missing parts of it have shown up in different videos on Youtube. Should I find it complete, I’ll post it here.]
The facts as we know them regarding the stop
– Hamil’s tail light was broken.
– Hamil admitted to knowing about the broken tail light for 6 months, and intentionally didn’t fix it.
– Driving with a broken tail light is against the law in Oklahoma, thus the stop was justified, as was the citation.
What we know about the citation
– Officer Massine chose to issue a ticket instead of a warning because of the 6-month time period the tail light was broken, which Hamil admitted to knowing of and did not repair.
– Oklahoma law is clear, drivers who are issued citations must sign them in order to be released on their own recognizance. The signature is an acknowledgement/agreement to either pay the fine or appear for the court date. Those refusing to sign are subject to arrest.
What we know about Hamil’s actions
– Hamil refused to sign the citation after being given multiple opportunities to sign it.
– Hamil, when told she was under arrest, she immediately verbally resisted and physically resisted by failing to exit the vehicle as ordered, then rolling up the window.
– Hamil fled in her vehicle, instigating a pursuit.
– After pulling over during the pursuit, she again refused to comply with the officer’s orders, both verbally and physically.
– Hamil kicked the officer.
In my opinion, Officer Massine showed proper restraint in his use of force, and completed his duty in the most humane way possible under the circumstance.
As I have stated in the past, once the words “you’re under arrest” are announced, by hook or by crook, you WILL BE ARRESTED. The only unknown factor is how much force will be required for your compliance. In this case, Hamil decided she was not going to be arrested. She stated it, she fled, and she was physically combative. All for naught, because, once again, she was GOING TO BE ARRESTED. And, when a person is non-compliant, there is no “pretty” way for them to be arrested. It will always look brutal and excessive to the casual observer.
Per usual, the internet “use of force experts”, plentifully found in the comments of social media posts, are claiming the Taser deployment was “unnecessary”, however, it’s use here was an act of mercy. Officer Massine could have continued to wrestle with Hamil and, through pain compliance and brute strength, forced her hands behind her back, which would have most likely resulted in a shoulder, or other injuries, to the suspect.
Many media outlets covering the story have only included screen shots or partial video of the event. The headlines read as some version of: ‘Elderly Woman Tasered Over Tail Light.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. She was tased because she ran from police, was physically combative, and blatantly resisted arrest.
By failing to tell the whole story, they sway public opinion towards the officer, and police in general, to the negative. The half truths once again fueling the fire of today’s “outrage”, compounding an already tense relationship between cops and the public.
– Mainstream media cannot be trusted as a full source of information. Getting a handle on the facts of an event will require research effort well beyond what any modern “reporter” is willing to to put in.
– The time to take a stand over a citation is not on the side of the road – this is why we have courts and lawyers.
– If we disagree with a law, that’s what voting, redress, and jury nullification is for. Starting a fight with a cop is not going to change anything other than one’s place of residence. If that fact ever ceases to be, police will be useless, and lawlessness will prevail. We can’t have it both ways.
This entire affair could have been avoided with a signature on the ticket. However, due to her own actions, Hamil will now be signing unnecessary checks to her attorney.
My advice: When interacting with police, don’t be Debra Hamil
“The actions of the Cashion Police Department on July 16 were egregious and unnecessary. The thought that a 65-year-old woman, known to the community as the grandmother of two boys lost in the 2012 Piedmont Tornado, needed to be tased and arrested for not signing a ticket offends common notions of decency. The people of Cashion and the State of Oklahoma are no safer because of the actions of [the officer]. His unnecessary escalation and use of force served no purpose other than to torment and embarrass Ms. Hamil. We are exploring all legal actions which may be taken to vindicate Ms. Hamil’s civil rights.” – Edward Blau, Attorney