Florida policewoman Tasers female shopper for yelling at her
A police officer used a stun gun to subdue a woman who yelled at her in a crowded electronics store, and prosecutors are reviewing whether to pursue charges against the customer.
While Elizabeth Beeland was trying to purchase a CD player at a Best Buy on Nov. 26, she stepped outside to talk on her phone, leaving her credit card. Concerned about the sudden exit, a store clerk suspected Beeland was using a stolen card and called over a police officer.
Officer Claudia Wright wrote in a police report that when she approached, Beeland became "verbally profane, abusive, loud and irate." She said she warned Beeland to calm down or face arrest.
In a video, Beeland is seen backing away and avoiding Wright, then crumpling to the ground after being hit with the Taser.
Wright was not disciplined, and police Chief Mike Chitwood defended her actions. Beeland was refusing an officer's orders, and using a Taser avoided use of other weapons, he said.
Police verified Beeland, 35, was using her own credit card, but she was arrested on two misdemeanors, disorderly conduct and resisting a police officer without violence. She has since pleaded not guilty, and state prosecutors are reviewing whether to pursue the case.
Beeland's attorney William Chanfrau Jr. said he is reviewing the encounter and declined further comment.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported Friday that Daytona Beach police used a Taser 10 times in November, but Beeland was the only person stunned who wasn't acting violently or fleeing.
Amnesty International and American Civil Liberties Union representatives criticized the use of a Taser on Beeland, saying yelling at an officer is not illegal and other methods could have been used.
Fox News interviewed Daytona Police Chief Mike Chitwood, who defended his officer's actions, but said that the incident was being investigated. He also admitted the woman never threatened the police officer, but the "force continuum" allows for stunning if "their actions force the officer to use physical maneuvers to establish control."
Chitwood said that the woman wasn't complying to demands from an officer and called it "passive physical resistance."
"Absolutely," Chitwood said when asked if his officer did the right thing but he added that it was "not a good incident," regardless.
(with wire reports)
This video is from Fox's Fox News Live, broadcast on December 21, 2007.