The annals of overzealous police behavior are full of shocking tales, but few are as unsettling as the recent allegations that a man was tased 13 times by police officers after a DUI arrest.
According to a recent report in the Santa Barbara Independent, 50-year-old Tony Denunzio was tased repeatedly by arresting officers after being pulled over for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.
Both Denunzio and witnesses of the incident claim that officer Aaron Tudor punched, kneed and tased Denunzio after the Tudor pulled him over for DUI Charges, even though Denunzio allegedly did not resist the arrest.
A mug shot of Denunzio taken a few hours after the arrest shows a badly bruised man with a contusion on his right eye and cuts on his forehead and cheeks. During the arrest, Denunzio also suffered a broken nose, broken ribs, and an injured wrist.
While both sides have their own stories—police claim Denunzio resisted the arrest, while he claims that police had no reason to beat him—extra intrigue was added to the case when authorities revealed that the entire episode had been caught on a patrol vehicle camera.
Currently, the police video is not yet available, and information about Denunzio’s level of drunkenness has also not been released, so investigators are left with competing narratives about the night.
According to the story told by police, Tudor pulled Denunzio over after the driver had executed a series of quick lane changes without using his turn signal.
Police further alleged that, after he left his truck, Denunzio started walking away from Tudor. When Tudor grabbed the driver’s arm, Denunzio resisted the physical contact. This forced Tudor to trip Denunzio and apparently slap him several times in the head.
These slaps allegedly did not subdue the driver, so Tudor eventually resorted to punching and kicking the arrestee. When these proved inadequate, and Denunzio continued to resist, Tudor began to use his Taser, which was activated 13 times.
Witnesses, however, offered a different story. According to some people on the scene, Denunzio left his car without knowing that he was being pursued by a police officer.
When Tudor yelled at him to stop, witnesses claim that Denunzio obliged and did not actively resist the arrest. In his defense, Denunzio also claimed that that he did not physically challenge Tudor, and instead “laid down like a kitten” when the officer grabbed him.
In response to public outcry over the incident, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara Police Department said that police officials had reviewed the tape of the altercation and concluded that Tudor did not violate police regulations.
While it may take authorities more time to conclude who acted irresponsibly in this incident, it is fair to say that Denunzio could have handled the situation better.
DUI arrests may lead to some fines or possible jail time, but their effects can be compounded by aggressive behavior after the arrest. Other drivers would be well advised to mind their manners in the presence of police.