Always question the use of force

A University of Florida student’s outburst at a speech earlier this month ended in a Taser gun incident that has sparked debate about police brutality.

Andrew Meyer was attending a public appearance by former presidential candidate John Kerry and was restrained by police officers after attempting to interrupt the conclusion of Kerry’s speech with questions.

The student spoke for a minute and a half before the officers apprehended him, according to He yelled continuously of his innocence and begged not to be shocked.

Most of the incident was caught on tape by both local media and Meyer’s affiliates. After the footage was posted on, the public was outraged to see what appeared to be excessive force used on the student.

Many question Meyer’s motives in making an outburst at the speech, and others believe the officers were over-reacting when they shocked him with a Taser gun.

There are several uncertainties about this case that will probably go on unanswered.

Whatever the validity of the case, Meyer has directed the public’s attention to a very important issue.

The use of force by police officers is not always warranted and should constantly be under public scrutiny.

Police officers work to protect us, but they are also human beings who can make mistakes. While we should respect the right officers have to keep us safe, we should also value the rights we have to question authority if we feel it is abused.

Meyer’s incident sparked interest in the public that should have already been present. It shouldn’t take a YouTube video for people to be concerned about officers who abuse their authority.

The issue hit close to home recently when a Warren woman was featured on CNN for a Taser gun incident. Heidi Gill was removed from a bar for being unruly, and an officer admits to shocking her several times to get the situation under control. Gill was unarmed at the time of the incident and claims she has vision problems as a result of the encounter.

Although we want to be safe at all costs, what costs are we willing to pay?

If Gill only obtained vision problems from repeated shocks, she was lucky. Prolonged or continuous exposure to Taser guns may lead to breathing impairment and heart damage.

If a person is unarmed, shouldn’t an officer owe an explanation for using excessive force, especially if those weapons can cause permanent damage?

Andrew Meyer was not the first person to start a media frenzy surrounding police violence and won’t be the last.

When footage of the beating of a black man named Rodney King by white officers surfaced, something in America was awakened. People realized that justice isn’t fair to all and everyone may not feel safe in this country.

In the course of a little over a decade, that idea has been forgotten.

Are we blaming police officers for all tension between them and the public? Of course not.

It is every person’s responsibility to follow the law so that physical encounters with the police aren’t necessary.

But this nation has to start caring about how authority figures treat others.

Andrew Meyer is by no means a hero, but at least he got this nation to think.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial.