Police on Apple store tasering: It was 'justified'

After reviewing an incident in which a 44-year-old woman was tasered for allegedly refusing to leave an Apple store, police conclude the act was "justified and appropriate."

Resisting arrest? WMUR-TV Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Being unable to resist buying a lot of iPhones is uncomfortable enough. It's worse coupled with being unable to avoid being handcuffed.

This can be the only conclusion after a full and thorough police investigation into the tasering of a woman outside the Apple store in the Pheasant Lane Mall of Nashua, N.H.

Should you not have had the opportunity of enjoying this footage, I have embedded it again. It appears to show a woman on the ground being subdued and tasered by more than two police officers. They are bigger than she is.

The Union Leader of New Hampshire now reports that the police investigation has revealed that the officers' conduct was "justified and appropriate."

Some might imagine that such a conclusion might include a whiff of self-justification and a slightly inappropriate definition of what is appropriate.

But Nashua Police's Deputy Chief Scott Howe told the Union Leader that the officer in question was using his taser for the very first time and that it is only used in 4.3 percent of his force's arrests.

The taser was used, he said, because the alternative -- pepper spray-- might have affected others who were keen to buy iPhones or other fine items in the mall.

The whole kerfuffle seems to have been triggered by 44-year-old Xiaojie Li's return visit to the store.

Nashau Police Captain Bruce Hansen told the Newton Patch that the store had already told her two days previously not to come back.

This was because the store had a two-phone limit on purchases and Li allegedly wanted to exceed that. She also allegedly filmed other customers who, she said, were buying more than two.

Hansen explained of this particular Apple store: "They have an issue with groups of people coming in and one person providing the money so they can all get in line separately and each buy multiple items in the store, goods that they then ship overseas and sell for four times more money."

No evidence has yet been presented that Li, from Newton, Mass., was involved in such a scheme, though Hansen explained that she allegedly had $16,000 on her person and that the store "didn't want her business."

This Apple store has such a problem that it regularly hires a police detail at $50 an hour. Deputy Scott declared there had been 204 details at the store this year. Well, Apple is known for its attention to them.

Apple has not replied to my request for comment.

However, Hansen explained to the Newton Patch that Li had allegedly refused to leave the store and the two officers -- a second had arrived to assist the one on detail -- failed to get both Li's wrists into handcuffs because she allegedly wriggled too much and then placed one of her hands beneath her.

This was, according to police vocabulary, "force continuum"-- the reasonable use of additional force when someone is resisting arrest.

Hansen added: "It's not a pleasant experience but it's not designed to be."

Some might find it unpleasantly odd that two policemen needed a taser to unpleasantly subdue a 44-year-old woman.

 

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