Springfield Police officer Ronnie Nelson has been arrested for battery and official misconduct for his use of excessive force on an unarmed black man. Solomon Smith was walking down the same street he'd been walking for 25 years without incident when Officer Nelson spotted him in the early morning hours of May 29, 2020. The incident was caught on camera. The footage shows Nelson harassing Smith for being someone he does not recognize walking down a street he says is "known for a lot of drug activity and prostitution." The officers run Smith's name and accuse him of giving the wrong name due to what would at best be a misunderstanding as to the spelling or pronunciation of his name. Nelson decided to arrest him for that.
At about 6:39 in the embedded video below, you can see Nelson take out his taser. He tells Smith to turn around, put his hands behind his back, and get on the ground. Smith stands put pleading with Nelson to leave him alone. At all times Smith's hands are in plain view and he does nothing aggressive. Eventually it becomes obvious that Nelson has had enough and he says "I will tase your ass!" Smith continues begging before running out of patience himself and saying that he will call people "I got people that will do something to you." Nelson did not like that very much. He shot Smith with the taser and fellow officers pounced on him. Eventually they manage to cuff him, get him on his feet, and take him to jail.
So, what is wrong with what Nelson did? Smith is caught on video refusing to follow simple orders to put his hand behind his back and get on the ground. Didn't Nelson have to use force to control a suspect that was not following directions? Did that suspect resist arrest once the officers swarmed him? The answer to such questions depends on whether or not Nelson had grounds to stop let alone arrest Smith in the first place. Smith did nothing wrong, so Nelson had no legitimate legal right to tell Smith to put his hands behind his back or get on the ground in the first place. That is why Officer Nelson cannot defend these actions simply by saying that he gave Smith orders and Smith did not comply.
This case reminds this author of an incident involving a friend of mine. In that case, Seattle Police officer Christopher Myers wrongfully stopped and shot Jose Manuel Cardenas-Muratalla. In that case the underlying gun charge resulting from the stop was tossed out due to lack of probable cause. The Washington Court of Appeals held that "Cardenas-Muratalla's presence in a high crime area at night, looking startled upon seeing the patrol car, and walking away from the doorway while talking on a cell phone do not justify a stop." If that happened today it would be nice to think that the political climate would lead to the firing and arrest of Myers or protests if nothing were to happen to him. Unfortunately, Cardenas-Muratalla spent over three years in federal prison for illegal re-entry and was deported to Mexico, so he was unable to pursue legal action against Myers. Learn more at https://copblaster.com/blast/82/officer-christopher-myers-wrongfully-stopped-and-shot-my-cellmate