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Testicle-grabbing of suspect a "reasonable" use of force in Mesa County

In dealing with individuals who are resisting arrest, police officers are trained in the use of sophisticated techniques designed to subdue the unruly.

But one Mesa County deputy has discovered that the fastest way to a man's compliance is to get a firm grip on his balls.

Deputy Hassan Hassan's method of securing a recent arrest was unorthodox but reasonable under the circumstances, a Mesa County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel in this account.

On Monday, Hassan and another officer ended up in a tussle with Samuel Fazio, the target of a warrant for criminal impersonation. Fazio was resisting attempts to be handcuffed, Hassan reported, so the deputy grabbed Fazio's genitals for "two to three seconds," until he surrendered. Hassan had a Taser but no time to use it, so his method proved to be both safe and effective, the spokeswoman said.

Fazio was booked on suspicion of assault and resisting arrest. He has not to date filed any complaint regarding his treatment. Nor has the American Civil Liberties Union.

Getting someone by the balls has, of course, long been an accepted form of combat and coercion in marital situations. However, the technique has not been widely adopted in law enforcement circles, possibly because of institutional homophobic concerns about such intimate man-on-man contact. Judging from lawsuits alleging brutality, some agencies still rely on more conventional if largely discredited take-down efforts, such as the thumb gouge to the eyeball and repeated blows to the head with a large nightstick (which, in most cases, amounts to applying force to the least sensitive of the suspect's body parts).

Given the hazards of traditional methods, Deputy Hassan may well have his finger on the pulse of modern policing.

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast