Officer tasers shackled NC inmate, leaves him for dead


Footage has emerged that purports to show a North Carolina inmate being tased three times by an officer, despite the man being in shackles. The incident killed the inmate and his death was ruled a homicide – but no one has been punished for the crime.

The footage, released by The News & Observer, shows an officer unlocking Brandon Bethea’s handcuffs in a cell at the Harnett County Jail in March 2011. Detention officer identified in a police report as John Clark is seen holding a stun gun behind the inmate’s back while the cuffs are released.  

Clark then strikes Bethea with the taser, causing the 24-year-old inmate to fall to the floor.

As five officers stand over Bethea, Clark stuns the inmate two more times.

Seemingly unconcerned about Bethea’s state of health at that moment, Clark and the other officers take off the inmate’s shackles and leave the cell.

Bethea can first be seen briefly moving his arms, but stops moving two minutes later.

Twenty minutes after that, another officer summons a nurse as they attempt to revive Bethea. Paramedics also arrived, but were unable to resuscitate the man. A state medical examiner concluded that Bethea died from the shocks of the stun gun, and ruled the death a homicide.

But despite that ruling, Clark and the other officers remain unpunished. In fact, Clark is still working at the same county jail, according to US media.

Evidence of contradictions

The video, which proves that Bethea was not being physically violent at the time of the incident, appears to contradict statements made by authorities at the time.

Sheriff Larry Rollins told reporters in 2011 that Bethea’s death was unavoidable, and that Clark was left with no other choice than to deploy the weapon during an altercation with the inmate.

However, Rollins resigned in March, two years before his term expired, citing personal reasons. He refused to talk to the newspaper about the case.

A detective filed a report which backed up the sheriff’s claims, saying that Bethea was “conscious and alert” when the officers left him in the cell.

But despite claims that Clark and the other officers acted appropriately, the county paid $350,000 to Bethea’s family to settle a lawsuit just months after it was filed. The settlement forbids the family from speaking about the case.

Bethea, who was documented to be mentally ill, was in jail facing charges of rape, illegally possessing a firearm as a felon and armed robbery. He had previously served time for drugs, fighting, and violating his probation.

The video’s release comes just one month after Arkansas officers became similarly trigger-happy with their stun guns,tasering a man after dragging him from his vehicle after approaching him for playing loud music.

3 thoughts on “Officer tasers shackled NC inmate, leaves him for dead

  1. “Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.”

    -Thomas Jefferson

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