Dan Jensen was watching his neighbor’s house burn, watching the fire creep closer and closer to his own home, and trying to patiently wait for the fire truck. But they weren’t coming, so he grabbed his hose and stood by his fence, hoping to buy his property some time. It was this, humbly battling a blaze, that cause the police to use a Taser on him.
Is there something I didn’t tell you? Did I leave out part where he threatened officers, had a weapon, or put anyone at risk? No. Officers tased Jensen because, they say, they didn’t want him to be hurt by the fire.
The Miami Herald says that Jensen complied the first time cops told him to stop watering the fire. But as he waited and the fire trucks didn’t come, he picked the hose back up.
“Hit ‘em!! Take him down! Tase him!” were reportedly the only words of warning Jensen received before being shocked and thrown to the ground by the force.
Everyone but the police believe they crossed the line. The neighbors, family, and obviously Jensen are struggling to understand what exactly he did wrong, why keeping a fire away from his property was something worthy of such force.
His attorney calls it “excessive force”, and she is right.
“They can’t just Taser anyone,” said attorney Heidi Imhoff. “He’s an unarmed person on his private property trying to fight a fire.”
The case is reminiscent of a California case that didn’t end so well. Douglas Zerby sat on his roof with a water hose attachment, you know the kind you use to water the garden or hose off the sidewalk. With no warning or verbal command to drop the object, officers shot Zerby 12 times, killing him. In that case, the officers were cleared of any wrongdoing.
In that regard, Jensen is lucky. Sure, the officers knew he didn’t hold a gun, but if Tasing someone for protecting their property is not out of line, where is the line?
Pinellas Park Police say Jensen could have hurt himself or put officers in danger by fighting the fire with a garden hose. They say they could have charged him with obstruction of justice, but didn’t. (How very big of them). But they didn’t publicly respond to questions about why they didn’t try shutting off the water, taking the hose from Jensen, or simply letting him water the fire for the additional few minutes it took the firefighters to respond.
Though this case is an extreme one, it is proof positive that sometimes what we see as common sense actions, the cops take as an affront, and a law violation. While it doesn’t feel good to have to tiptoe around law enforcement, that’s the place we are put in time and time again.
If you’ve been accused of a crime and you feel like you were treated wrongly by police, we may be able to help. Contact our offices today to discuss the details of your case and your legal options.