How I Learned Integrity: A “Don’t Tase Me, Bro” Lesson


The UF Tasing incident reminded me of something that happened to me in high school.

When I was in 9th grade I was almost killed by 10 police officers. I was in the local newspaper, and barely escaped some serious court time.

It was Saturday night at around 11pm or midnight. We were at the local Motel 6 where one of my buddies was staying, and some friends and I were playing laser tag in the parking lot.

All I remember hearing is, “Freeze! Newark Police Department!” I remember looking around me and seeing lots of guns pointed at me as I inched backwards on my knees with my fingers laced behind my head.

Someone had called in saying there were people outside with guns. As we were cuffed and detained they of course found out that the guns we were carrying were laser tag toys. Giant, space-weapon-looking laser tag toys. Of course it was dark, so there was no way for the people who reported us to know they were fake.

As we were being brought into custody a cop looked down to find that his pants were torn while he was jumping a nearby fence in order to box us in. He jokingly made a comment about how they were $50 pants that he would have to replace.

There were three sets of parents involved — mine and two others. When the other parents heard about our unfair treatment, i.e. being treated like criminals and put to our knees and such, they went apeshit. Deadly force…they’re just kids with toys…blah blah. You know the battle cry.

Then it became even more serious to the other parents (and became a true incident) because of the officer’s reference to ruined trousers during a serious situation where, “we could have been killed”. It turned into a minor fiasco.

So the paper had interviewed all the parents and were about to get an apology from the police department regarding the insensitive comments made combined with the “unnecessary show of deadly force” when the papers made it to our house.

When they asked my parents about the incident they got a different answer. My parents told them that the police thought there were guns there, so it was a justified response to act the way they did. They further added that if it had been one of them that had ruined a pair of $50 pants over some stupid kid playing with fake guns in the middle of the night, they’d be pissed too.

That was the end of it. Their injection of logic ended the attack against the police, as the parents were not united on the issue. The other parents were angry at mine, but they of course didn’t care. They had no stomach for groupthink stupidity, especially when it had the smell of victim-based opportunism.

I learned a lot from that.

Hopefully the University of Florida kid will learn a similar lesson, i.e. that when you go to a public event with a U.S. Senator present and get belligerent ON PURPOSE in order to make a scene (after telling multiple people to record what’s about to happen) — you may just get the attention you were seeking.

[ Sep 20, 2007 ]

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