Disturbing video footage of a 16-year-old biracial teen boy being tased by a state trooper in Fort Meyers, Florida caused outrage.
Jack Rodeman was on the back patio at his girlfriend's home. Florida State Trooper George Smyrnios followed Rodeman into the back yard because he looked 'suspicious' according to the White state trooper.
The footage of the event was caught on the family's home security camera.
In the video, Rodeman was texting on his cellphone to his girlfriend to let her know he was there. CBS12 reported Rodeman had permission to be there and his girlfriend knew he would be there.
Trooper George Smyrnios tased Rodeman and he fell to the ground, hitting his head on the brick firepit. Rodeman's mother, Kristina Rodeman, is afraid he may need x-ray's for fractured vertebrae.
In an interview with CBS12, Rodeman's mother said:
"I mean my son was just standing there on his phone."
"He wasn't reaching in his pockets. The officer—there was no threat to that officer."
In the official state police report, Smyrnios described Rodeman as "suspicious" and "darting" into the bushes. Amended reports claimed Smyrnios "could not see (Jack's) hands" and "was concerned that he might have a weapon."
WINK News said the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) reviewed the footage and determined there was no reason for the officer to deploy his taser on the teen.
FHP policy reads:
"The use of a CEW (conducted electrical weapon) is authorized and may be an appropriate response in the case of a sudden attack, or when 'active resistance' or greater is offered by a subject who is about to be taken into custody for any reason."
However, footage of Rodeman shows no signs of resistance or attempts to flee. He was merely standing and texting.
Professor of forensic studies at Florida Gulf Coast University and former police officer David J. Thomas said:
"The most egregious part to me is here's a kid who was offering no active resistance but passive resistance by being on his phone and texting and because he failed to comply with your lawful order, you shot him with a Taser and he fell and hit his head on a brick."
"If he goes and says let's put handcuffs on, then the kid starts to fight and resist, then you have a legitimate reason to use a Taser but you don't have a legitimate reason to use a Taser because the kids ignoring him and on his phone."
When asked about the situation, Rodeman's mother exclaimed:
"His life wasn't at risk. My son wasn't fighting him."
"Jack looked totally calm."
Later in the video, Rodeman's girlfriend rushed outside to find him in handcuffs.
Rodeman's mother continued on the verge of tears:
"I just feel like something should be done."
"He shouldn't have done that to my kid."
"His girlfriends traumatized, the mom's traumatized, I'm traumatized."
When asked how her son is doing, she could not answer.
He has been in juvenile detention for 21 days. He is facing charges of resisting arrest and possession of cannabis.
Attorney Ben Crump tweeted about the incident.
Many are asking why the teen was detained and is still being held in a detention facility.
Kristina Rodeman is represented by Attorney Derek Tyler.
Tyler spoke on the situation to WINK News:
"In this country, in this state, our criminal justice system should not…at all condone torture, especially of a child."
"The descriptor of 'dart' is purely subjective."
"It was totally uncalled for and unjustified by any way you slice it because the officer was not in any physical danger whatsoever."
"We are going to vigorously defend all of the charges and we are also going to vigorously pursue every legal avenue available regarding the unmitigated, unjustified torture that he was subjected to by the officer involved."
Trooper George Smynios was just named Florida Highway Patrol Investigator of the year in March.