New Mexico state police chased a 74-year-old man driving on the wrong side of the interstate earlier this month, forcing him out his van at gunpoint and tasering him, causing him to fall to the ground clutching his chest.
Roger Chalet died a week later.
Luna County sheriff’s deputies say he died of natural causes.
The incident took place on January 4 and Chalet’s blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit, according to KRQE, which also added Chalet was arrested for drunk driving in December.
So maybe he was a drunk, but there’s no indication that he was a violent drink that would have caused officers half his age to fear for their lives.
But that didn’t stop one of them from tasering him. He died eight days later.
“From all accounts, it looks like an excessive use of force to me,” said Peter Simonson, Executive Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico.
“It looks like they didn’t give him much time to comply before they fired the electronic control device,” Simonson added.
Simonson also pointed out, Charlet’s hands are visible right before he’s tased.
“The officers are so close to him, that if indeed he does have a weapon, they can immediately rationalize the use of even lethal force,” said Simonson. Simonson wonders why officers didn’t direct Charlet to the ground from a point of cover, rather than get so close to him.
A woman who knew Charlet is also concerned.
“That seemed totally unnecessary for an old man that was not going to run away,” said Linda Pafford, who knew Charlet from community organizations.
After seeing the video, she’s worried the taser to the chest may have done damage.
But New Mexico state police the tasering was justified and they will not be conducting any investigation.
The ACLU has published an extensive report investigating the “fallacy” behind the “non-lethal” weapon.
Just last week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which overseas Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Maryland, ruled that police will be in violation of the Fourth Amendment if they taser citizens who pose no safety risk to officers or citizens.