El Paso’s Finest

Did you see this story in the El Paso Times this past weekend?

On June 23, 2015, Maria Ramirez called 911 to report that her son, Daniel Antonio Ramirez, who was 30 years old and had a history of mental health issues, was threatening to hang himself, the lawsuit states.

[El Paso Police Officer Officer Ruben Escajeda, Jr.] was the first officer to respond to the scene and saw Daniel Ramirez trying to hang himself from a basketball net, according to lawsuit.

“After entering the backyard, Escajeda saw that Daniel was grabbing the rope around his neck and touching the ground with this tiptoes — trying to save his own life. Both of his hands were around the rope,” the lawsuit states.

“Despite clear signs that Daniel was alive and in the throes of hanging himself, Escajeda deployed a taser on him. The taser connected with Daniel’s chest and abdomen causing Daniel’s body to immediately go limp,” it states.

If the particulars of the story are true, it’s shocking, no pun intended.

The guy’s trying (or not) to hang himself, so the cop tases him?

I guess if all you’ve got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.


    1. “The parents of a suicidal man who died after being shocked with a Taser by an El Paso police officer as he tried to hang himself are suing the officer and the city of El Paso.”

  1. The police are not perfect. No one is. They are reacting in the heat of a difficult situation in this story. As sad and tragic as the outcome here was, and as easy as it is to say after-the-fact that doing nothing by the police would have been better than deploying the taser, I believe some deference needs to be afforded to the first responder here. And some level of responsibility has to be borne by Daniel, even though he was mentally impaired. I disagree with the concept that every police mistake that ends in tragedy should end with taxpayer money and/or taxpayer purchased insurance money to the victims.

    1. Sorry PanchoB but that’s a stupid position to take. Police officers are granted an unusual level of freedom when it comes to their use of force and it should come with a reasonable level of scrutiny. If you read the lawsuit they’re going after the PD’s culture and procedures not just this guy’s actions. Leaving aside the obvious “but none of us were there” argument, what possible legal reason could there be for tazing someone who is clearly in distress and appears to need help?

      You want to blame the victim and that’s idiotic in the context of a cop coming onto the scene and seeing a guy that guy was desperately trying to not hang himself. It doesn’t matter how he got in that position, there is no obvious way that he could have been posing a threat to the officer so how could he possibly think that using his tazer was the right thing to do? Who rolls up on that scene and decides that he needs to taze the guy? If he had a valid, legal reason for doing so (just because we can’t think of one doesn’t mean there isn’t one) then that should be made public so we know that there is some reasonable oversight of the police and that he acted appropriately. If not then something needs to happen to the guy, maybe training, maybe some sort of punishment, but something. Otherwise what’s going to encourage other officers to moderate their behavior?

      As cops often remind us common folk, they’re human too and as a group of humans they need to look at what they do and learn what not to do if someone does something bad. Protecting all of them regardless of what happens only teaches them that they don’t need to be careful and they don’t need to exercise some level of restraint. Unfortunately that’s exactly what the current Chief does. He will stand by his guys (emphasis on guys) regardless of whether they’ve done something bad or even illegal and that’s good but only up to a point. At some point he needs to take a step back and say “sorry but this is not acceptable behavior for a police officer”

      Being a cop is a tough often thankless job and I respect the folks out there who try their best to help the community, but the EPPD has some serious problems when it comes to discipline and training. Incidents like this (and that shooting of the handcuffed guy at the jail) only serve to highlight the severe shortcomings in the department. No, not all cops are bad, far from it, but the few really bad (either because they’re assholes or incompetent) ones can seriously impact someone’s life in really horrible ways and it’s not right that the group as a whole protects those specific cops.

  2. He should have shot him? Formed a crisis team to study the problem? Waited to see if he would actually hang on the rope long enough to choke himself to death? I hate to be the one to tell you, a person doesn’t immediately die from something being around their neck unless they drop a sufficient distance, but don’t take my word for it, research what they did for hundreds of years to hang people. Almost everyone alive in the 16th century had more knowledge of hanging than the author of this article. I would rather have decisive action than whiny second-guessing.

    1. Any of the actions you suggested would have yielded the same results as tasing him. Decisive action?

      Officer Jose Flores took decisive action when he shot Daniel Saenz as he lay handcuffed in the sallyport of the El Paso County Jail.

      Pol Pot took decisive action.

      Charles Manson took decisive action.

      With all due respect, you’re an idiot.

    2. So apparently helping the guy not die isn’t an option… What kind of moron lists shooting someone instead of helping someone as the acceptable way to respond to this sort of situation?

      As you so brilliantly explained someone doesn’t die instantly from hanging so clearly there was time to try and help the guy who was slowly dying as he was hanging from the rope. What kind of rocket scientist decides that this is the time to use a taser on the guy? If there was a good reason for it why doesn’t the PD release that information? They don’t need to go into great detail, but if they can’t provide a reason then it really does make me wonder how it’s ok for that cop to continue being a cop.

      It also makes me wonder why there isn’t a taser review board. They have a shooting review board, why not one for tasers? It’s not like they are “non-lethal,” the actual company that makes them calls them “less-lethal” so why not have a “weapon discharge review board” and have them at least look at any situation where a cop uses their weapon in the line of duty. It might make some of them think more carefully about what they are doing.

      All that being said it is not “whiny second-guessing” to expect our police department to be able to explain how an inexplicable decision (like the one to use the taser) could be justified. That is part of being an engaged citizen and it’s a critical thing that Americans can do that a lot of other people can’t. We aren’t ok with our police acting like a secret police that is beyond question. You’re the only whiny one I see, complaining because someone dares question your sacred cops and making you contemplate the ugly possibility that maybe they aren’t perfect. Its much easier to accuse others of “whiny second-guessing” so you feel justified leaving your brain in the off position.

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