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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Inside Edition Covers Tasing of Black Man

Eugene Snelling tells INSIDE EDITION that he still is unsure why he was tasered by an Austin police officer in November 2006.

It's the latest dash cam video that's raising new questions about the use of tasers by police.

A motorist in Austin, Texas, is tasered just moments after being pulled over for going just five miles over the speed limit.

From the video, the officer can be heard yelling at the driver to lay on the ground, after he had already tasered the man. The driver questions the cop, and tells him that he was hurt by the taser.

INSIDE EDITION spoke to 32-year old Eugene Snelling, the driver who was pulled over.

Snelling says that after exiting his vehicle the cop "shoved me a little bit, and the next minute, I was tased."

It happened when Snelling, his mother and cousin were on their way to Thanksgiving dinner, and were pulled over by Corporal Thomas O'Connor. The video, taken last year, has just been released by the Austin police, with the faces blurred.

As the dash cam video rolls, what started as a routine traffic stop turns ugly in just seconds.

Cop: "Let me see your drivers license and proof of insurance."
Driver: "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let me get it."
Cop: "No. Not 'whoa, whoa, whoa.' Driver's license and insurance or get out of the vehicle."
Mother: "Ok, give him the license."
Driver: "No, this guy's sitting here yelling at me for whatever reason..."

As the driver gets out of the car, the officer pulls out his taser.

Cop: "Step out of the vehicle."
Driver: "I have no idea why you're acting..."
Cop: "Step out of the vehicle. Take your seat belt off, step out of the vehicle and give me your driver's license and proof of insurance."
Driver: "I have no idea..."
Cop: "Get to the back of the vehicle; put your hands on the vehicle. Get to the back of the vehicle. Stop."

It is then that the officer tasers Snelling. Lying on the ground and writhing in pain, the driver asks why he was tasered.

Cop: "You're under arrest and you're going to jail."
Driver: "Going to jail, for what?"
Cop: "For failing to give me your driver's license."
Driver: "I'm not failing to give you anything."

Snelling tells INSIDE EDITION that he still unsure why he was treated in this manner.

This is just the latest controversial use of a taser gun by police. In this latest tasering, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has apologized to the driver and is now using the video as a training tool for all his officers.

Corporal O'Connor said he felt threatened by the motorist. The officer was suspended for three days after the incident, but has since returned to his job.

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