A South Dakota police officer is facing an indictment for repeatedly Tasering an unresponsive man who was already handcuffed, an incident that bystanders caught on video.
According to KELO radio, Pine Ridge tribal police officer Rebecca Sotherland, 32, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury for violating the Constitutional rights of citizen in her custody.
United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced the indictment. Charges of Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon could mean that Sotherland faces up to 10 years in prison as well as a possible $250,000 fine, three years’ supervised release and $100 assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.
On August 15, witnesses filmed Sotherland repeatedly shocking a man on the ground with an electric stun gun and ordering him to get up and get into her squad car. Handcuffed and incoherent, the man was unable to comply. This sent Sotherland into a rage as she shocked him again and again.
“Hurry up! Get the car before it hits you again! Hurry up!” Sotherland shouted before hitting the stun gun’s trigger. “Get up and get in the car or it’s gonna get you again.”
Onlookers pleaded with Sotherland, begging her to stop hurting the man, even offering to move the man into the vehicle themselves if she will just stop shooting the blasts of electricity into his body and making him bellow and moan in pain.
Jay Syrmopoulos at the Free Thought Project wrote, “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.”
Finally, the onlookers loaded the man into the car, but not before the incident was caught on tape.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services are working jointly on investigation of the incident. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Collins and Kevin Koliner with assistance from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
Watch video of the Tasering incident, embedded below via YouTube:
[Taser image via Flickr user hradcanska, Creative Commons licensed]