See Cops Tasering 60-Something Shoplifter at Walmart: Did They Do the Right Thing?

Did Lakeside police officers who tased an alleged Walmart shoplifter said to be around sixty years of age go too far? That's a question raised by a video of the incident that circulated on social media before finding its way into mainstream media coverage. Continue to see that video and others, as well as to get details and the police response.

See also: Jamie Carrillo and Angelo Arellano Allegedly Bring Toddler on Shoplifting Trip, Police Chase

Tasings at Walmart aren't exactly unknown, as a simple YouTube search reveals. Here's one example with a particularly unfortunate title.... another clip....

...and another:

The local addition to this canon took place this past Friday, when Lakeside police officers chased an alleged shoplifter at the small community's Walmart across the street, then tased him in a scuffle near a dumpster. The footage can be found in the CBS4 report on view below.

Witness Pete Ortega captured the goings-on via cellphone video, then posted the footage on Facebook. His page is private, but CBS4 maintains that the clip went viral, with many commenters suggesting that the actions of the cops represented excessive force, particularly given the age of the supposed perpetrator.

That's not the position of the Lakeside Police Department, whose statement to CBS4 doesn't seem particularly apologetic. It reads in part: "He refused to comply with officers' request to get down, pulled him arms under him, and a struggle ensued.... He was tased and eventually complied (and) was placed into custody."

Posts about the video on CBS4's Facebook page mainly side with the LPD, although there are exceptions. Here's a sampling:
What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

This is not excessive force. The guy committed a crime, ran from officers, then is clearly resisting the arrest. The two officers are not having any luck getting his arms behind his back, so the taser is justified. No matter how many officers are present, an officer can actually do more harm to a suspect trying to force his arms behind his back. The use of the taser is to cause the suspect to stop resisting the arrest, so that he might be taken into custody without injury. Now, if they were beating him with a baton, or shooting him, I might see the point. It just amazes me how people are taking video of cops, doing their jobs, just with the hopes of starting some online frenzy to get their 5 seconds of fame...just like Mr. Ortega did here.

Thou shalt not steal....

There is no doubt that there are police officers who act like "pigs". Most do not but there is a fair share of those who do. However, in all fairness, they deal with some pretty despicable characters and they do so every day. They must assume that every suspect is willing to kill them because some are. If they don't do that there may come a day when they don't go home...ever. It behooves us to keep things in perspective.

Who cares? Don't steal and you don't get arrested.

Here's the CBS4 piece:

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts