Pine Ridge tribal police officer Rebecca Sotherland was indicted on Tuesday for excessively tazing a man who was on the ground, helpless and unresponsive, The Raw Story reported.
Sotherland’s actions violated her victim’s Constitutional rights, prompting the indictment made by a federal grand jury which was announced this week by United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson. Sotherland was charged with Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon.
If convicted, Sotherland could potentially be sentenced to 10 years in prison, be fined $250,000, and given three years’ supervised released after prison.
The incident occurred because Sotherland was too lazy to help the handcuffed suspect into her patrol vehicle while he lay limp and unresponsive on the ground. She repeatedly shocked the man with her taser weapon, saying “Hurry up! Get in the car before it hits your again! Hurry up! Get up and in the car or it’s gonna get you again!”
A group of young bystanders recorded the incident on what appeared to be a cell phone. They counted up to approximately 17 or 18 times that Sotherland shocked the suspect. When a pair of young men went to help the officer place the suspect in the car, to keep Sotherland from abusing force, one of the young men noted the suspect was “slobbering” from the shocks.
“Sotherland obviously wasn’t using the stun gun as a means of defense, as the man is laying helplessly on the ground handcuffed, rather she is using it as a means of sadistic punishment in an attempt to motivate him to get into her police cruiser as she is seemingly too lazy to simply put the suspect into the cruiser herself,” said Jay Syrmopoulos of the Free Thought Project.
Federal agencies like the FBI and Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services are looking into the incident. This is the sort of police brutality that has sparked the unrest in Ferguson, MO as police who believe that they are above the law overextend their use of power.
The witnesses posted the video to YouTube. Watch it below: