Another sickening dashcam video.
The age old question “Who will police the police” takes on new meaning when considering the abuse of children and teenagers by police during routine traffic stops that turn into nearly fatal encounters. Every society needs some mechanism to enforce its laws, but occasionally those who serve don’t serve. Here is yet another example from Missouri, in 2014. Sentencing for the officer occurred this week.
Bryce Masters, a 17-year old on his way to a friend’s house to play X-box, was stopped by the police. He asked why he was stopped and whether he was being arrested instead of immediately getting out of the car, angering the officer. Masters was then taser-tortured for an agonizing 23-seconds, and had his lifeless body dropped onto the pavement by the officer, who said, “Toldja!” as if he was the clear victor. Masters went into cardiac arrest, and his brain was deprived of oxygen for up to 8 minutes. The officer, Timothy Runnels, was sentenced to 4 years in prison for one count of depriving a minor of his constitutional rights. Three additional charges were dismissed as part of a plea bargain including excessive use of force and filing a misleading police report. Here is dashcam video of the encounter from youtube. The video is disturbing.
Here is an eyewitness video of the aftermath of the dashcam video, taken by Masters’ friend. The video is followed by news accounts of the incident. The officer Runnels, rather than giving aid or calling an ambulance, appears to put his boot on the neck of the unconscious teenager as another squad car approaches.
The officer violated standard police procedure as he (a) failed to call for backup support as he accelerated an encounter into violence, without reason, (b) failed to use less violent means to obtain compliance, (c) employed the taser far longer than appropriate to ensure compliance, causing the teen to go into cardiac arrest, (d) inflicted additional trauma by failing to protect the unconscious Masters as Runnels dropped his body to the pavement, face first, and then placing his foot on the teen’s neck, and (e) Runnels failed to promptly call an ambulance and administer first aid.
A chilling 33-second video from vimeo, taken by the victim Masters himself, from an excellent article by Nick Berardini and Matt Stroud on the theintercept.com, follows.
Police violence towards the citizenry has reached a crisis level. While criminal prosecutions of errant police officers have some deterrent effect, public policy does not support plea bargains that reduce charges to a single felony count with a relatively short sentence for community servants who do not serve. The ultimate solution is for officers to cease acting as an aggressive occupying force when there is no credible threat of violence towards them. This is not just a routine traffic stop gone bad. The officer unnecessarily accelerated the violence in this situation and nearly killed a teenager. It could have been your son. It could have been you. Whether the prison guards treat Runnels as a criminal or as a brother who took one for the team is unknown but he’ll be eligible for release as soon as he serves 80% of his sentence.The victim faces a lifetime of recovery. The final irony: The victim Masters’ dad is a cop.