Saturday, April 25, 2009

Take That, Brat

Cop Tasers Teen-Ager Five Times for Not Getting Off His Bike Fast Enough

Posted by Digby, Hullabaloo at 1:02 PM on April 24, 2009.

Is the government allowed to shoot citizens with electricity solely because they fail to do what agents of the government tell them to do?

For those who don't want to read any further, the short answer is no. But in reality it gets a lot more complicated, as the following story will show. Regardless of the correct answer, I think it's safe to say that if you are in the presence of a cop who has a taser, you stand a good chance of being tasered, just for breathing.

Here's a story about a teen-age bicyclist who was tasered five times for failing to respond to a police officer's order to "get off the road." It is written by a lawyer who specializes in bicyclist rights and he asks the fundamental question: do you have a right to not comply with a police officer? It's at the heart of the taser question because nine times out of ten, people are not being tasered because they are threatening the cop or anyone else; they are tasered because they fail to comply with a police officer's order. So, the question is, do the police have a right to shoot someone with electricity simply because he or she is arguing with them or refuses to promptly obey their order?

If police used these things sparingly and had to answer to boards of inquiry whenever they are used, it would be one thing. But they are using them pretty much in any situation and often when they already have someone in custody. And while it's true that as a practical matter one is well advised to cooperate with police, I find it difficult to see how we are a free people, with rights guaranteed by the constitution, if the government is allowed to shoot citizens with electricity solely because they fail to do what agents of the government tell them to do.

(This story is from Bicycle Magazine)

Road Rights: The Right to Disobey Cops
Yes, even the police are wrong sometimes.
By Bob Mionske

A few months ago, I received a phone call from a cyclist with an incredible story about an incident in Lawrence County, Ohio. Because the cyclist-a guy named Tony Patrick-was in need of an attorney, I hooked him up with Steve Magas, a contributing author to Bicycling & the Law, and a well-known bicycling attorney in Ohio. After hearing Tony's story, Steve took his case. More about that later; first, let me tell you about Tony.

Weekdays, Tony runs his small construction company in Huntington, West Virginia. Weeknights, and weekends, Tony, a Cat 2 racer, can often be found hanging out at Jeff's Bike Shop-that is, when he's not out on a training ride, or racing. And that's not unusual; Jeff's Bike Shop is the center of a vibrant racing scene in Huntington, the second-largest city in West Virginia, and the home of Marshall University.

(Editor's note. This story just got to be too long, and frankly, a little boring. So I decided to cut it off at this point. Sorry. I left the final 3 paragraphs so those who wished could try to fill in for themselves what must have been in the middle. I have a good friend who does this with boring novels. He has read over 50,000 novels using this technique.)

Bob Mionske is a nationally known cycling lawyer with a practice exclusively focused on representing cyclists. An advocate for the rights of cyclists, Bob is the author of Bicycling & the Law, the first book written for cyclists on their legal rights and responsibilities since 1895. Bob is also a former U.S. Olympic and pro cyclist; Bob represented the United States in the 1988 and 1992 Olympic games, and was the National Road Race Champion in 1990, amassing a record of over 100 wins during his racing career.

If you have a cycling-related legal question or a comment about this blog, please submit it below. If you have a private legal question for Bob, please submit it to Bob and he will try to privately respond to as many of these questions as he can; some questions may be selected for answering in Road Rights. General bicycle-accident advice can be found at For more of Bob's perspective on bicycle law, be sure to visit his blog, and for Bob's take on bicycle culture, visit

Important notice:
The information provided in the Road Rights blog is not legal advice. The information provided on this public web site is provided solely for the general interest of the visitors to this web site. The information contained in the column applies to general principles of American jurisprudence and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in the various jurisdictions and therefore should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice. Understand that reading the information contained in this column does not mean you have established an attorney-client relationship with attorney Bob Mionske. Readers of this column should not act upon any information contained in the web site without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.

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