Last January 31, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Deputy Sean Andrews, fishing for revenue, stopped a woman named Audra Harmon near Salina, New York. Andrews claimed to have seen Harmon talking on her cell phone while driving; Mrs. Harmon, who had two of her children in the back of her mini-van, responded that she hadn’t been doing so and could prove it.
Undeterred, Andrews then accused Harmon of speeding. Again, Harmon politely insisted that she hadn’t been. She handed over her license and registration. As Andrews turned away, Harmon — under the impression that she was going to review the dashcam video, began to exit the car.
Andrews ordered Harmon back into the van; she hesitates briefly, apparently arguing, and then got into the vehicle. Andrews then ordered her out, saying that she was under arrest. When Harmon hesitated, Andrews seized her by the arm and violently yanked her out, ordering her to the ground. Seconds later he assaulted her with the first of two blasts from his Portable Electro-Shock Torture device (PEST, more commonly called a Taser).
He then dragged the mother — whose physical resistance amounted to a single attempt to pull away from the deranged, armed stranger when he dragged her from the car — toward the side of the road. He then knelt on her back, using his bulk to pin down the traumatized woman while handcuffing her. Andrews falsified an arrest report by claiming that Harmon had “obstructed traffic” by stepping out of the van. The video of the incident clearly shows that Harmon was well away from traffic until she had been tased and dragged in the direction of the road by Andrews.
The victim of this assault under the color of state “authority” was charged with speeding (50 MPH in a 45 MPH zone), “disorderly conduct,” and resisting arrest. Those charges were dropped after prosecutors viewed the dashcam video.
Audra Harmon plans to sue the station. Andrews was re-assigned to office duty while internal affairs seeks some pretext to justify his criminal actions.
(Note: I revised some of the details in this item after reviewing the video; thanks to LRC reader Brian Bagnall for prompting me to do so.)2:47 pm on August 13, 2009 Email William Norman Grigg