EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Ranger’s crotch tazing of trans woman caught on videoTop Highlights, Trans Progressive Saturday, December 3rd, 2011
Commentary: Trans Progressive
I’m aware that attitudes in society, and even in the LGBT community, about trans women are often negative and sometimes hostile. As a trans woman, the idea of being arrested is a scary thought because I know those negative and hostile attitudes are at least as commonplace in police officers as they are in broader society.
When I went to jail over the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) back in March 2010, I had one park police officer refer to me as an “impersonator,” and a federal marshal refer to me as an “it” and a “shim.” I felt somewhat fortunate to not have been physically or sexually abused after handcuffing myself to the White House fence, even though I knew that by getting arrested in that direct action I might have been.
I know how badly trans people have been treated by officers of the law, so I’m not easily shocked when I hear horror stories about police mistreatment of trans people. But, even I was shocked pretty deeply watching the raw video of the arrest of Brooke Fantelli.
Standing, hands up in the air with no visible resistance to arrest, Ranger Petter tazed Brooke in the abdomen. At slightly more than 50 seconds into the video, the ranger tazed her a second time – this time in the crotch.
Back when Brooke Fantelli was known as Rodd Fantelli, she was a well known off-road race driver who won numerous races. She owns Fantelli Racing Products in Ramona, a custom off-road fabrication shop with 20 years of fabrication and racing history – she’s still a well known figure in the off-road racing community.
Oct. 22 she was out in the Imperial County desert on federal land. With her were a long-time friend, a photographer, two models and a preteen who was a child of one of the models. They were out in the desert to take photos of the two models for their portfolios, and they were using one of Brooke’s trucks and the desert as the backdrop for the photos.
According to Brooke, a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ranger by the name of Petter came by to see what the group was doing. Ranger Petter, in the process of finding out what they were doing, looked at the identification of all of the members of the group, and this is where the problems began.
Although Brooke began her transition two years ago, Brooke’s California driver’s license still had her old male name and her old male photo. She was incorrectly told by her physician that she needed to live two full years as a female before she could change her California identification.
After Ranger Petter saw Brooke’s identification card, Brooke said he went from referring to her as “ma’am,” “her,” and “she” to “sir,” “him,” and “he.” She then said the ranger went to referring to her as “dude.”
After that point, Brooke said the ranger went back to his vehicle – which Brooke said was about four or five car lengths from where the group was taking photographs – and watched the group from that distance for an hour and seventeen minutes. Brooke remembers drinking two-and-a-half beers during that hour and seventeen minutes; the ranger said she drank four beers. She went over to the ranger to tell him that he was making the models nervous, and said she told him it was time to “mosey along.” As she was talking to the ranger, officers from the Federal Park Police and Imperial County Sheriffs Department came over a hill.
Seconds later, she was told by the ranger that he was arresting her for being drunk in public. With her hands in the air as she was about to be arrested, the eight-and-a-half minute video shows her being tazed twice and then arrested. After the video, Brooke said he referred to her as “it,” “ thing,” and “that whatever.”
I spent Nov. 28 with Brooke when she was told to show up at court to be arraigned. The district attorney hasn’t filed charges.
Maybe it’s because the lab report for the emergency room visit after the arrest showed there was no testing accomplished – she didn’t agree to a breathalyzer test; no urine was collected for analysis; and the blood test she had after the tazing didn’t include testing for blood alcohol count. Or, maybe it’s because the district attorney knows that the problematic video of the arrest is available.
Brooke will very likely be filing a civil suit over the incident, and God, I hope so.
This is such a horrid story. Just watch the exclusive video and see if you see a problem with the arrest.
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