Police Officer Tasers Unarmed Man in Traffic Stop Without Cause — Receives Only 90 Day Probation for “Official Oppression”

The video below has led to the sentencing of a Beaumont, Texas police officer for “official oppression” in the beating of a man at a 2007 traffic stop.

James Cody Guedry stunned unarmed passenger Derrick Newman twice with a Taser in an Aug. 24, 2007 and was convicted by a jury in December. He could have received one year in jail but Judge John Stevens felt that “official oppression” leading to an unwarranted tasering of a citizen is worth no more than 90 days in jail. Former officer David Todd Burke, who was also found guilty of official oppression in September, is shown repeatedly hitting Newman with a baton. He received only one year’s probation.

Guedry’s attorney argued that he was just following orders and should not be punished to responding to the command of a senior officer. Sound familiar? It should. That is the argument made by officials in the Bush Administration who participated in the torture program. Immediately after his election, President Obama promised that any CIA employees who engaged in torture would not be prosecuted because they were following orders — the very argument that the United States rejected at Nuremburg. It is an argument first recorded in 1474 in the trial of Peter von Hagenbach before a tribunal of the Holy Roman Empire. President Obama changed our longtime position on this defense and blocked any accountability for CIA officials.

It appears that if a cop follows orders to taser a citizens, he can be convicted. However, if you knowingly torture prisoners, you are entirely immune.

This case also shows the continued importance of videotape evidence. It is doubtful that this case would have been brought if it was just the word of the men versus these officers. Yet, there continues to be an effort by some police departments to criminalize the videotaping of officers with little reaction from members of Congress or state legislators.

Source: Beaumont Enterprise and Reddit

Jonathan Turley

18 thoughts on “Police Officer Tasers Unarmed Man in Traffic Stop Without Cause — Receives Only 90 Day Probation for “Official Oppression””

  1. you know you’re a big man when the cops have to use two pair of handcuffs on you.

  2. Beaumont reminds me of this singer. She was born outside of there.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FMhnl0__Vo&fs=1&hl=en_US]

  3. I think the tasered-victim should be allowed to tasz the officer once for as long as he deems appropriate. Supervised, of course. 🙂

  4. pardon

    “were discussing some small rural”

    Tired. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  5. Bud,

    Probably because city and county charters are more analogous to articles of incorporation than to constitutions. While they may have language concerning establishment, dissolution and possibly annexation, their rights are constrained by the issuing state’s constitution, that state’s ability to grant and revoke charters and often a referendum vote of the affected peoples. They have no legal argument for secession, only dissolution. In fact, I recall an NPR story several years ago where they were discussion some small rural municipalities that were opting for dissolution as their population base shrank to levels unable to support the required infrastructure. There could be exceptions to this as I haven’t read every charter in the country, but I’ve never read one that would support such a secession argument.

  6. Buddha,

    If in theory Texas could secede from the USA, could Beaumont(or any city/area/county)not secede from Texas?

    Could Beaumont become a possession or territory (almost said terrortory)of the USA?

    If it is good for Texas why isn’t good for a county or city?

  7. Buddha Is Laughing
    1, January 19, 2011 at 8:45 am
    Now now you two.

    Culture leanings and legal responsibility are not the same thing.

    If some Texans got their secessionist wishes, you’d have to take Beaumont with you.


    lol … come on AY and SwM, that was funny …

  8. How does a person who has not the body structures needed for talking or hearing (someone who, perhaps, would have been called, before pejorative language vanished from humanity, a “deaf mute”)hear the police officer’s spoken commands, and how does the person talk to the police officer, saying, “I am talking to you to tell you that I reserve my constitutional right to remain silent, which I have waived by talking to you this way.”

    In order to prevent crimes from happening, we need to catch and incarcerate the criminals before they commit their first crime.

    Sound absurd? Is that not the absurdity which causes police officers under stress into transient psychotic breaks?

    While I know and understand how to catch criminals before they commit their first crime, the way to do it is through totally avoiding authoritarian adversarial retaliation and only using affirming authoritative reciprocity.

    Which is how I choose to live my life.

  9. eniobob,
    You are right that there are alot more of these incidents that aren’t filmed.
    I am with Buddha that I do not want any part of Texas. No matter what part of Texas this may be, it is still Texas. If Beaumont wants out of Texas, that is another story.
    Mespo hit the nail on the head that at least the jury had the sense to refuse the Bush torture order defense. I do hope that this judge doesn’t get on the wrong side of one of these felons they call cops in Texas.

  10. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.how many of these incidents don’t have the video tape?

    These type of incidents happen in the Black Community more than people think.

  11. And we’re supposed to believe and trust that under it’s new anti-immigration law AZ state cops are capable of exercising rssponible judgement in establishing “reasonable suspicion” (rather than “probable cause” as provided by the US Constitution) as to someone’s immigration status. I do not.

  12. Now now you two.

    Culture leanings and legal responsibility are not the same thing.

    If some Texans got their secessionist wishes, you’d have to take Beaumont with you.

  13. The culture in Beaumont is more like that of Louisiana. Was there once. Don’t care to go back. Texas has so many regions that the landscape is constantly changing.

  14. Buddha,

    That’s Beaumont….its is almost Texas but closer to Louisiana…any questions…….French I believe….

  15. Welcome to Germany circa 1939!

    Again, any questions as to why I won’t live in Texas?

  16. Rejection of the “superior orders” defense proves that we are not mere robots in carrying out the directives from our superiors. We still retain the right to moral choice when there is one. Here the officers elected to assert the “robot” defense and the jury rejected it. Good on them. As for the Judge, well, not so much.

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