Prepare to be tasered, funny man

This is the new punishment for cracking a bad joke, and being somewhat cranky after falling on the stairs:

Marin County resident Peter McFarland and his wife Pearl returned home from a charity fundraising event. McFarland slipped on steps leading to his home and suffered injuries to his leg, arm and head. His wife then called paramedics from a nearby fire station who helped him in and treated his wounds.

McFarland says as the paramedics were leaving, two Sheriff’s deputies “bolted into his home.”

“The sheriffs ran up the stairs into the room here like a bunch of cowboys,” he said.

ABC7 obtained the audio and video captured by a camera mounted on the Taser. It shows McFarland sitting on a couch with the gun’s laser beam targeted on his chest. The deputy repeatedly tells him that he is going to take him to a hospital to be evaluated because of a comment McFarland made previously that he would “shoot himself in the head.”

It is unclear who heard the comment but McFarland told ABC7 in an exclusive interview that it was just “hyperbole” and that he was tired and in pain from his injuries.

The interchange continues for about five minutes with the deputy ordering McFarland to get up from the couch. Finally, McFarland yells at the deputies to get out of his home and then stands up. At that point, a deputy fires his Taser — not once, but three times as McFarland cries out in obvious pain on the ground while the other deputy tries to handcuff him. All the while, the deputy tells McFarland to stop resisting.

Watch the video in order to judge for yourself how much McFarland was “resisting” arrest. He can barely climb off the couch, perhaps because he’s 64-years-old and has a heart condition. Oh, and he’d just tumbled down some steps.

The Sheriff’s office said it takes allegations of excessive force seriously, but also “That reaction can all too often also be influenced by using only small, selected segments of a much lengthier video that better depicts the complexity of the event in question.” So ABC has also posted the full, unedited video here. Again, judge for yourself if McFarland posed any grave threat to the officers.

Maybe cops should be required to attend comedy clubs once a week so they can recognize a joke – even a bad one – before they immediately jump to electrocuting a citizen in order to “save” him by nearly exploding his heart.


  1. Rooker

    It’s time to take tasers away from cops. They are not a non-lethal weapon, especially when they are misused as often as they have been in recent years. They still have their pepper spray, which they’ll also misuse, but at least pepper doesn’t kill you (usually).

  2. Tim

    This is fucking scary.

  3. Greg

    This is unrelated, but please, please, please write something about the conversation on the Beck rally between David Brooks and Gail Collins in today’s NYT. Please.

  4. That is one of the most reprehensible videos I’ve watched in some time. The officers involved need to be fired immediately and then charged with assault and battery. I hope the family sues the county’s ass off!! And Rooker is right. Since police can’t seem to figure out when is an appropriate time to employ this weapon (and it IS a weapon), they should be stripped of them.

  5. swandiver

    It’s not just the excessive force issues and the increasing number of crimes that police officers take for granted that they can get away with. It’s the fact that when confronted with the overwhelming evidence that there is systemic issues that need to be fixed, they would rather convict the people taking pictures than make meaningful change.

    Not one person better talk to me about honor and the police again.

  6. Allison Kilkenny

    Good point. I’m also consistently horrified by the lack of solidarity people express when confronted with video footage like this. If you’ve checked out the comment section of any tasering video on Youtube, you’ll know what I’m talking about. There’s nothing sadder than watching people cheer on the torture of their fellow citizens.

  7. Trefor

    I had the delight the other day of talking with a cop acquaintance of mine in a casual setting about tasers. He was telling me all about the extensive training they received on their safe usage. I asked him if in his training he had seen or had any access to studies showing the results of usage on pregnant women and people with pacemakers. I am not entirely sure I got coherent answer as he seemed a little bit confused what the word “study” meant.

    It feels like we have suddenly gotten “liberated” by the ability to have the short term effect of using a gun (completely incapacitate the guy) without that obnoxious tendency to kill them. Only, it DOES still kill them. But it kills them just infrequently enough that it doesn’t fall into “weapon of last resort” status that a gun has.

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