Almost a million people have watched this video on YouTube. Back in the day, no one had a video camera upon which to record these sorts of police “antics.” If a local newspaper reporter happened to be on scene and wrote it up the Managing Editor would have tossed the resulting copy into the circular file without a moment’s hesitation. These days, cell phone cameras and YouTube are holding police to a higher standard. At least in theory—given that the thin blue line is made of piano wire. Still, I reckon it’s new technology 1, armed police thuggery 0. Until cops pony-up for Apple’s cell phone video jammer thingie. Yes, that Apple. Watch this space. Make the jump for a run-down of the pre-party (what happened before the video began) from medialite.com . . .

A police officer in Toledo, Ohio has been placed on paid leave after a video depicting him forcing people on the ground and brandishing a taser at them went viral this month. Officer Eric Hart is merely being placed on administrative leave while the Washington Township police conduct an investigation.

Hart reportedly stopped a vehicle for having an “altered” license registration sticker, at which point another local resident got out of his car and told Hart, “I’m fucking sick of you cops.” That’s when it got ugly.

Officer Hart wrote in the report that he ordered Mr. [Aaron] Tatkowski to get back; when he allegedly refused, the officer said he pointed his stun gun at Mr. Tatkowski, who yelled for spectators to videotape the encounter. [ED: It’s not clear if the weapon pointed at the prone perps’ head was a TASER or a firearm. What’s your guess?] The passenger from the first vehicle, Cassandra Meyers, got out of the vehicle and approached the officer, who had Mr. Tatkowski handcuffed on the ground.

The officer wrote he had his gun out and pointed through open vehicle doors.

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96 Responses to How to Win Friends and Influence People By Pointing a Weapon at Someone’s Head [NSFW]

  1. “An officer in distress”. You could say that. More like “an officer who’s lost his mind. Send help quick.”

    • This is why it is true that there is no such thing as a good cop. A good cop gets fired very quickly.

      The police are nothing other than the iron fists of government. They are there to force us to obey the politicians assholes.

  2. Is it possible that was a taser and not a pistol he was pointing at them? Even then it seems he went a bit off the deep end, but I have no idea what happened before the camera started rolling. If he was assaulted by one of the three and that was a taser it might justify his behavior. That said it looked like a firearm to me.

    • I could be wayyyyyyy wrong here, but watch when he holsters whatever he’s holding. He holsters it on his strong side. Dont most cops carry the taser on the weak side in something like a cross draw configuration? To me, since he holstered whatever it is on his strong side, it seems likely that it is his gun and NOT a taser.

        • You got me there, the way he was waving it around sure looked like he was using his dominant hand. Looked kind of like he’d done this kind of thing before too. Still, things aren’t always what they seem to be. Probably not in this case though.

    • Gov, looked like a gun to me. What’s the need to point it at people who’re face-down on the pavement and handcuffed? The guy’s a nut. If his PD hadn’t figured that out before, which I bet they had.

      • Well even if it was a taser it would be hard to justify his behavior. I was just thinking that maybe the guy on the ground jacked the cop in the jaw or something, in which case waving a taser at his head might not be appropriate, but it would be understandable. I give it a 98% chance the cop is just an unstable dickhead though.

    • Video quality is poor, but it looks like a Taser to me. I have seen local LEOs and Sheriffs appendix carry their Taser on the strong side.

      The unanswered question in all the ruckus is, was it a legitimate traffic stop? Was there actually something wrong with the license or was it just an excuse to pull them over and harass them?

    • I wonder if the seizure of that property–however brief–was a legal warrantless seizure. I don’t see how the phone posed a danger to anyone, or how it was connected to the arrest–custodial or otherwise–of the person who it was seized from, or that it was being seized for evidence, or how it was being used in the commission of a crime (although I’m not “up” on Ohio wiretap laws). On the face of it, it seems to be very close to a Fourth Amendment rights violation. I spend a lot of time with my local police officers, and they are very concerned with staying on the right side of the constitution. This officer doesn’t seem to be so much concerned.

  3. There is no legal or moral justification for pointing a gun at the heads of two downed and handcuffed people. Regardless of why they’re handcuffed, that is ridiculous. Repugnant behavior by the praetorian. Must make him feel like a real man to rough up a bound and helpless woman.

  4. Without knowing what precluding the video, there are a few things to note:

    1. The officer was having a power trip and being abusive. Picking the guy up off the ground and yelling at him to stand up when his feet are off the ground. Throwing the phone at the end are just a few examples.

    2. Good acting by the lady. The lady seemed to exaggerate what is going on. Yes officers do have the right to use reasonable force, and some of what the officer did was wrong, but the impression that I received was anything that was done to her, she yelled that she was in pain.

    Right or wrong, my guess is there are failures on both ends. The cop had a power trip and it clearly showed.

    • The truth is that many women are indeed very sensitive and that’s not necessarily acting. It could be a reaction from fear, or it could be pain. It’s a myth that women can stand pain better than men, the opposite is generally true, and women generally are not exposed to pain very often, so when pain is inflicted they can react strongly.

    • You might be surprised how practiced officers are in the use of pressure points and joint manipulations to cause pain and attain physical compliance. (The Rodney King incident is an example of attempts to attain compliance by striking specific nerves; and, at the time, officers were trained to repeatedly strike the nerves until the suspect complied … Which doesn’t work too well when a guy is high on PCP or bath salts; but I digress …)The adult male was getting some fingers in his brachial plexus trunk nerves as he was placed in the car. It’s a technique police are practiced in which promotes compliance but does not look painful to uneducated observers. This demonstrates that the officer was practiced in causing pain (as nearly all officers are). The woman appeared to be having her arms lifted behind her back, which can be extremely painful and cause nerve, muscle, and ligament damage if carried to an extreme. I don’t know if that was justified and I’m not qualified to make a judgment on that, but I do believe she was experiencing a degree of discomfort.

      • I can and will make a judgment. Since the girl was in handcuffs and on the ground, the Policeman was at a minimum twice her size, the man was already locked in his cruiser, she posed absolutely no physical threat to him. Aside from being mouthy, which may or may not have been justified on her part, he had absolutely zero reason not to treat her gently and in such a way as to not cause undue physical discomfort. He apparently did not think this was necessary. She may or may not have exaggerated the degree of distress she was in, but at that point there should have been zero reason for her to have anything to complain about. It’s not like this was a felony stop or they were wanted fugitives, they were just ordinary people being stopped for a vehicle registration infraction.

        Whatever else happens to this officer, he needs to be made to stand as a target dummy for their next Taser training class.

  5. Looks like a taser in his right hand, which he holsters on his right side as well. Near the end of the video, he walks back to his patrol car and it looks like a firearm is on his left side, reinforcing the likeliness it was a taser. The older guy on the phone even mentioned someone was about to be tased.

    Anyone know the events leading up to this video? Or are we all just piling on the cops without facts or reason? What amazes me is that the “armed intelligentsia” are always keen on pointing out the gun grabbers lack of facts and logic in their arguments and their reliance on emotion. Yet when it comes to the 5-0…

  6. Well he has certainly ‘won’ a friend and influenced me with his behavior. I think he needs to resign and leave the country, permanently.

    Tom

  7. EDIT: This was supposed to be in reply to EATENG a couple comments above, but it put it at the bottom of the page instead…

    Why would he A). use his (assumed, if he wears his gun on his left as EATENG posited above) non-dominant hand to control the taser one handed? B). Wear his gun on his weak side if he is actually right handed, and holding a taser that he holsters on his right side…something doesnt add up here.

    • There’s a possibility that the cop is just an idiot and really has no idea which side his sidearm and taser should be on. Not like cops are famous for technical prowess . . . .

    • @JoshinGA: don’t know if you are familiar with the whole Oscar Grant incident where the officer claimed to have mistakenly drawn his gun when he intended to use his taser, which resulted in the shooting death of mr. Grant. Since then, quite a few departments have trained to use tasers and firearms in different hands so as to never confuse the two.

  8. If I have said it once, I have said it a million times: the reason cops act like this is because they are always told they are the greatest heroes living today. When you are constantly told you can do no wrong, you start to act that way.

    • When that’s reenforced by no or inadequate punishment, the problem is compounded a hundredfold. No, a thousandfold.

      You might call it “misbehavior reenforcement”.

    • Police, Paramedics, and firefighters are told this in training for a reason: Take control of the scene. No one else can take control if you’re better then them, therefor you’re in control.

      It creates issues at times, but is necessary.

      • It doesn’t create “issues”; it creates tyranny and hatred of police. Explain the necessity of pointing a gun (or a taser, if you insist, but I think you’re wrong) at people who are shackled face down on the pavement. Or of picking a guy up by his arms and yelling, “GET UP!”

        • The object is too blocky even by Glocks standards, it is most definitely a TASER. I mean, damn, you can even see at ~1:20, he does a move that looks exactly like activating a safety on a TASER.

          As for the other stuff, are you an officer, paramedic or firefighter? Do you deal with situations such as this on a daily basis? No? Well, I do. Yes, they’re handcuffed but he’s still the only officer on scene with a bunch of angry people… and officers have been killed by handcuffed people before, infact way too often, which just shows how little you actually know about situations such as this.

          As for yanking the guy up by his arms and saying “Get up” how do you propose to lift a ~200lb angry pissed off guy safely?

          Don’t know what video you were watching, but the guy who had the object pointed at him was not facedown, but rather face-up. Object went away before he was facedown.

          Don’t mistake my experience for slacking and allowing abuse… hardly, but the totality of the circumstances were a bunch of pissed off people mad that they were handcuffed (most likely for being aggressive in the first place) and an officer not using any excessive force as shown on the video.

      • Steve, if you are one of the good guys, thank you for what you do, however, the very fact that you are so close to the issue that you can’t see why so many people commenting here are so aggravated by this officer’s behavior sort of points out the problem.

        The police have developed their own way of looking at and dealing with situations. The people they are sworn to serve seem to feel that their responses are not always in tune with the public’s rights or the constitution. We do not know what level of aggression the man in question displayed when first encountered, but once everyone was cuffed and it was pretty obvious that the bystanders were not posing a threat the officer’s overly aggressive handling of the subjects was way out of line. These were not people charged with or wanted for violent crimes. The more belligerent actor was cuffed and placed in the car, with what was very obviously small regard for his physical well being. (I was a medic, I know how to help someone to their feet without manhandling them. That cop just didn’t give a sh!t.) He was on an adrenalin fueled power trip and angry and his actions were not such as to bring credit upon himself or the organization he was representing. Or you.

  9. I’m disgusted that no one helped them as they were being attacked by that guy dressed in black. People need to stand up to these thugs or this will continue to happen. He is the reason militias exist. Government authority comes from the consent of the governed. If there is no consent its rape pure and simple.

    • I was thinking the exact same thing. Get two or more citizens out there with their modern muskets trained on this wannabe-doughnut-pantry of a cop. Park their vehicles around his car so he can’t leave.

      Sure, more cops’ll show up eventually, but then it’s the word of one blue-in-the-face porker nutjob against the word of all those witnesses.

  10. Without reading any of the comments, my first thought looking at the object in question was “TASER” and didn’t understand what the hubbub was.

    I still don’t get the hubbub.

  11. Wow, a lot of comments considering the video shows NOTHING of what leads up to it. Just maybe they deserved to be treated like that, maybe not but you cannot tell by this video.

    • If you want to live in a country where cops are allowed to treat people the way they think they deserve to be treated, start packing your bags. I’ll be happy to help you. I might even give you cab fare to the airport. Not in MY COUNTRY, you don’t.

    • Regardless of the circumstances leading up to the beginning of the video, unless they were armed assailants, NOTHING the officer did to them physically after they were subdued and cuffed was justified by the situation. He was arrogant and confident that whatever level of force he used, even when he knew he was being videotaped, would not result in any adverse consequences within his department.

    • That video shows a cop battering to two people, and destroying the property of another. What came before he got them into handcuffs has absolutely no bearing on the way he abused them afterward. That lowlife ought to be on his way to a prison cell for aggravated battery, battery, assault, and destruction of property. Losing his job only would be a travesty. Keeping his job would be reason enough for the next citizen who encountered him in his official capacity to kill him in self defense before he can subdue them.

      If the rule of law is to rule (and I hope it will) officers like him must be removed and prosecuted the first time they pull something like this. One cannot respect the police if they field a man like that after they have been shown what an animal he is.

  12. Somewhat oddly, the thing that bothered me the most was how the officer threw the phone of the old man at the end.

    First, what justification did the officer have to confiscate the man’s phone? Especially seeing as he was on the phone with the police. Stopping the man from contacting the police shows that the officer is trying to cover up his actions by keeping the rest of the department in the dark.

    And then, just throwing the phone on the ground instead of, say, ending the call and handing it back. This video was obviously shot in a trailer park or similar, where the witnesses are definitely lower-income. Did anybody else catch the look on the face of the old man when his phone was thrown down? He isn’t a wealthy man, and is most likely signed into a contract on that phone. It’s not like he can easily replace his phone after it is broken by this miscreant. To the officer, the phone is not important. But to the older owner, it may represent two or three paychecks. That kind of elitism and disrespect from a “public servant” makes me sick.

    • It’s a four-way intersection, with sidewalks. It’s not likely to be a trailer park, simply because of that. There are two trailers in partial view, true, but I’ve yet to see a “trailer park” at a four-way intersection. An actual home is partially seen.

  13. I bet a lot of people are going to hate me for this, but someone has to play devil’s advocate, so here goes…

    First, my overall impression here is lack of professionalism and bad tactics. There are nicer ways to pick people up who have been handcuffed, and he looked indecisive walking back and forth, turning his back on people. If he thought there was enough danger for handcuffs, he shouldn’t have walked away from them. The weapon sure looks like a Taser to me, which I believe makes the pointing it at people a lot less serious than if it were a firearm. My department says I better have a very good reason for using a Taser on someone in handcuffs, though. I personally would not be pointing it at these people.

    It seems like people aren’t clear on what actually happened before the video starts. Note that the truck is behind the patrol car- he didn’t stop the truck, the truck driver decided he needed to be part of a traffic stop. Bad enough when a car stops behind you, but this guy got out and walked up screaming and swearing. Those of you who aren’t police may have differing opinions on what is appropriate response for an angry and aggressive man interfering with a traffic stop, but if you choose wrong, you might end up like this trooper, shot in the head.

    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/84350477.html

    Now, don’t take this to mean everyone who walks up or stands nearby is a suspect to be arrested. I once had a guy come flying up behind me and get out of his car with a hammer in his hand and a furious look on his face, and I didn’t shoot him. It turned out he wanted to remove yard sale signs that were posted near where I had stopped, but you wouldn’t have known from the things he was screaming at me when he got out.

    Would he have attacked me if I hadn’t seen him and flipped the retention strap off my holster? We’ll never know, but he walked up way too close for comfort before veering off to the signs. I firmly believe, though, that if he had been shot, it would have been considered a justified shooting. It wasn’t a shooting at all because I didn’t panic, and made a conscious decision not to shoot.

    In the video, the man on the ground had interfered with a lawful traffic stop, and in an aggressive manner. I’m not aware of a state where it’s legal to interfere with police- in WA it’s called “obstructing a law enforcement officer.” This justifies being detained and maybe arrested, but not abused.

    The woman was apparently screaming at the officer from inside the truck. This is a judgement call, you could treat it as she might try to fight to protect her boyfriend, and detain her for that (there’s a reason why nobody goes to a DV call alone), but I would prefer telling her to drive the truck away far enough that she wouldn’t be interfering with the traffic stop. If she refuses, then she can either walk away the same distance, or be arrested for obstructing. If she chooses ‘be arrested,’ then this is also not a justification for abuse. I’m not sure she was being abused, though, I’ve had more than one person scream at me because they were mad about being arrested, claiming I was hurting them when I wasn’t even touching them.

    Even on PoliceOne, though, the comments run about 100% against grabbing the camera. He definitely needs some refresher training, but this is more than a guy who wanted to beat up a family for expired license tabs.

    • Thanks for the breakdown. Coming from you, as a demonstrated Peace Officer, I truly appreciate it.

      However, as a counter-point, this entire situation hinges on enforcement of an immoral, illegal, and un-Constitutional TAX. This LEO is fulfilling the role of tax collector and then abusing people who take umbrage with it. The founders would have put up this this kind of behavior… back then, tax collector = tar and feathers.

      • I see your point, but do you mean that there should be no traffic laws, or that they should be enforced with something other than fines for violation?

        I drove like a fool when I was younger, and as much as I would like to think I was a skilled driver back then, I probably put people in danger. Took four speeding tickets before I started thinking it was a bad idea.

        • This particular case, at least according to one of the linked articles, was for expired registration tags. So, it was purely tax enforcement.

          As far as other traffic laws, only harming others or their property should be illegal, as in, causing actual damages to others.

    • Why was some guy who didn’t even intend on braining you with a hammer screaming at you? You said he was there to pick up signs. Your story makes no sense.

      What was he screaming at you?

      • The story makes no sense because he made no sense. There was no good reason for him to be screaming at me, he just showed up with a hammer and started screaming at me while walking quickly in my direction. It was a few years ago, I don’t remember exactly what he said. Something about me being an asshole and that he hated police.

        The point is, while performing normal job related duties, crazy people can show up. And it wasn’t immediately clear that he didn’t intend to hit me with the hammer.

    • Hasdruble I appreciate and understand your take. What I’m seeing is this; his treatment of these people in handcuffs, his prisoners, is brutal. He could have kept them all there where they were until more police arrived if he had chosen to, but he didn’t. What he appears to do to me is to intentionally injure or to injure without concern through his negligence two citizens who are now compliant with him.

      If he had simply left them on the ground and let no emotionally involved officers claim them, if he had not walked around threatening them with a weapon when clearly they were down and not trying to get up, if he had gently removed them from the ground, if he had been polite in his address, if he had not assaulted and robbed the older man standing off to the side I wouldn’t be saying what I’m saying, but that man should not be a cop.
      He’s temperamentally unacceptable for a police officer.
      If he were on my local force I’d be looking to either have him relived, or else hurt so badly he couldn’t preform the duties. In no way would I let what he did go. If that particular officer wanted to arrest me we’d either have a stand off until more officers arrived or else a gunfight, since I know he likes to abuse prisoners, I’ve seen the video. It doesn’t matter if those people were fighting or shooting at him prior to the video. What he does is to abuse prisoners in handcuffs who are largely compliant.

      I’ve always liked your comments and found them sound and wise. If you’re backing this piece of trash however, I’ll have to revise my opinion of you as well.

  14. I cannot wait for the day when something like this happens and instead of just recording it and yelling at the cop, the citizens respond by a dozen or more people holding the cop and gunpoint and detaining him.

    • Yes a dozen non uniformed citizens pointing guns at a cop when his backup shows up. 2 things for sure at that moment. Dead people on both sides and Totenglocke will have been no where near the incident. But he’ll sit at his keyboard and urge others on into the battle.

      • Why would they need to point a gun at him when backup shows up? Also, why would “backup” be coming at all since they would have detained him instead of letting him radio for help. They simple hold him at gunpoint, cuff him (they may or may not do the SOP beating / macing / tazing), then lock him in the back of the cruiser. Then, they call 911 and report a violent man yadda yadda and let the police arrive without anyone pointing guns at anyone.

        • Yep, I should know better than to acknowledge a tr0ll. Any way since I’m here. Get a dozen of your best buddies together and follow a cop around til he does something you figure is wrong. Then swoop in to cage him for the authorities. You’ll be a hero.

      • Totenglock is both an idiot and a maniac. That said in this case he’s almost right. Running out and braining this abuser, who commits battery, aggravated assault and robbery on camera would be both justified and noble. Sticking around would be madness. Had someone dropped this lowlife in the street with a bat or a pistol I’d be applauding and hoping they got away. That person not only has no business being a cop, his behavior would have invited armed response from a third party were he not in a uniform.

        That guy belongs in a prison cell, certainly not behind a badge.

        If I honestly thought that was how the police would deal with me during a traffic stop, I’d attempt to shoot/flee my way out of all traffic stops. Luckily that maniac is a rarity. I suspect he’ll never wear a badge again. If he does, whoever kills him does society a favor. That man is an abusive criminal, all the worse because he has a badge.

        • Ardent. I do not disagree that this cop should not be a cop. He may even have earned some criminal charges or couch time with his behaviour. But if he’s killed by a frightened citizen he will be buried as a hero and the citizen will either die or go to prison for a very long time.

          We live in an electronic age. His over the top behaviour was caught on film and shown to the world. Nobody was killed and hopefully his days in authority are over.

          In West Virginia a young man killed a cop on the side of the road. It was clearly a case of self defense. The cop was married and was stalking a young woman that the young man was seeing. The cop pulled him over in a traffic stop and proceeded to terrorise him and threatened him with a gun. In panic the young man fired and killed the cop.

          The young man was sent to prison. This was 30+ years ago. Our system does not see citizens killing cops as a heroic act of resistenc.

          Film at 11 is still the best way to deal with a rogue cop.

  15. Last night I was watching Alaska State Troopers on TV where the Trooper was encountering a similar incident with a woman. Even though he was several feet away she was yelling that he was hurting her. She wouldn’t respond to his calm instructions to calm down and stop yelling. Eventually he handcuffed her and she calmed down. After getting to the root of the story he un-cuffed her and warned her that her actions were not warranted.

    His profession demeanor was great. His training in personal interactions showed significantly. He is the type of LEO that truly serves the people.

    The officer in the above video clearly demonstrates that he has not had the proper training and appears that he is using the “Good Old Boy” backwoods cop mentality that really pisses people off and gives a bad name to all of the great LEOS out there. Yes he is reacting to several aggressive persons; however, better training would have produced better results.

    Also, taking the phone away from the old man appears (IMHO) to constitute theft or at the very least constitutional illegal seizure.

    • Taking the phone does look to be illegal, but the old man will probably have to sue the department for anything to happen. If I write a theft or robbery case for a non-officer taking an object out of someone’s hand and throwing it to the side, and they weren’t injured, it will get thrown out by the prosecutor in a second. Unless it was a DV case, and even then it’s not certain.

      A lawsuit should win pretty easily, though, because I think there’s a bunch of case law in his favor. Not sure how much he would be awarded in damages because he was only deprived of the phone for a few moments, but he should win.

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