Surveillance video shows a Florida state trooper shocking a 16-year-old biracial teen with a Taser as he stood on the back deck of his girlfriend's home, where he was allowed to be, in Fort Meyers, Florida. Now that teen, Jack Rodeman, is expected to remain in custody at a juvenile detention facility for 21 days, CBS 12 reported. He was on probation and faces additional charges of loitering and marijuana possession and a criminal traffic citation for disobeying an officer. Florida Highway Patrol Trooper George Smyrnios is the trooper shown targeting the teen on June 16. Smyrnios described Jack as suspicious in two different arrest reports The Washington Post obtained, and the trooper wrote that he was aware of burglaries in the area.
Jack Rodeman's mother Kristina Rodeman told the newspaper her son was cutting through bushes to see his girlfriend, something they both did regularly. Video showed what happened when Smyrnios approached the teen.
“Hey, put your hands behind your back,” Smyrnios is shown telling Jack as he looked at his phone.
“I didn’t do nothing,” Jack responded. Within seconds, Smyrnios used his Taser on the child, who fell to the ground, hit his head on a nearby fire pit, and screamed “help.”
“Put your hands behind your back,” the trooper responded. “I’m going to do it again.” The trooper made good on the promise while Jack continued to scream in agony trying to explain to the trooper that he had done nothing wrong. When his girlfriend came outside, Jack was being handcuffed on the ground. “For some reason, you think you can do exactly what you want to do, and you can’t,” Smyrnios said.
Warning: This video contains footage of a teenager being shocked with a Taser. It may be triggering for some viewers.
His mother told CBS Evening News something should be done. "He shouldn't have done that to my kid," she said. "His girlfriend's traumatized. The mom's traumatized. I'm traumatized. He's affected a lot of people." The family has hired an attorney. Derek Tyler told The Washington Post what the trooper did was "torture a child with no justification.” Tyler, who's representing Jack, called the trooper's actions "egregious, unjustified and cruel, and just absolutely outrageous."
Aaron Keller, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, told The Washington Post an administrative review of the encounter is ongoing. Florida Highway Patrol policy obtained by WINK-TV states: “The use of a CEW (conducted electrical weapon) is authorized and may be an appropriate response in the case of a sudden attack, or when ‘active resistance’ or greater is offered by a subject who is about to be taken into custody for any reason.”
Dave Thomas, a former police officer in Florida who now trains officers on use of force, told Local 12 News: "You don't just take out a Taser and shoot somebody when there's no active resistance." He called Smyrnios’ actions egregious. "My question is what does a burglar look like?" Thomas asked. "There's nothing that distinguishes that other than being a Black kid in black clothing, that's it!"