In what promises to be at best a most bizarre story, Ozark, Missouri, police tased 16-year-old Mace Hutchinson 19 times while he lay on the pavement with a broken back and a broken heel in his foot.
“There’s no way that they had to tase me that many times,” said Mace Hutchinson.
Capt. Thomas Rousset said, “He refused to comply with the officers and so the officers had to deploy their tasers in order to subdue him. He is making incoherent statements; he’s also making statements such as, ‘Shoot cops, kill cops,’ things like that. So there was cause for concern to the officers.”
Because they were attempting to rescue the 16-year-old Hutchinson and secure his safety, police said that their use of a taser should not be questioned. “It’s a big concern for the officers to keep this guy out of traffic, to keep him from getting hurt,” said Rousset.
The Hutchinson boy had been walking along a freeway overpass above US Highway 65, when a concerned citizen called 9-1-1 because he feared for the boy’s safety.
When police arrived they found Hutchinson incoherent and lying on the pavement of Highway 65. It appears that Hutchinson had fallen from the overpass onto the shoulder of Highway 65 below and had suffered severe injuries in the fall–injuries that included a broken back.
When Hutchinson would not make a coherent response to police questions other than “shoot cops, kill cops,” they tased him repeatedly. They tased him again, and again, and again, and again. They tased him a total of 19 times.
Police did not explain how repeated tasing of an incoherent subject would make the subject coherent. Nor did police explain how someone with a broken back lying on the highway is a threat to police officers. And police did not explain how tasing someone 19 times will prevent him from sustaining further injury.
Police did say that their use of a taser 19 times should not be questioned.
Mace Hutchinson’s family does not understand how the police can justify tasing Mace once, let alone 19 times. His aunt Samantha said, “I’m not an officer, but I don’t see the reason for tasing somebody lying there with a broken back. I don’t consider that a threat.”
Samantha also said that doctors felt that “all injuries are consistent with a fall.”
Mace’s father, Don, insists that Mace fell onto the pavement and did not jump; however, no one knows why he fell.
Said Don Hutchinson, “They tested his system. He was clean of drugs and alcohol. We don’t know why unless just being in shock and the whole thing in itself caused him to forget everything.”
The family is still questioning police actions. Don Hutchinson claims that surgery, which Mace critically needed, had to be delayed for two days because of the tasing.
“The Tasing increased his white blood cell count and caused him to have a temperature so they could not go into the operation,” Mr. Hutchinson said.
After surgery Mace was eventually released and is now at home still lying in bed and barely able to move. “It should be a couple months before I’m able to walk on my own,” said Mace.
Mace cannot remember how he ended up on the pavement under the bridge. He knows he didn’t willingly jump.
“I know I’m lucky to survive that far of a fall.”
Police say Hutchinson was aggressive with them and tried to get up and get into traffic. However, Mace counters that he weighs little and wonders why police simply did not restrain him.
Police also claim Mace made threatening remarks about harming officers. The combination of Mace’s aggression and remarks were why they used the stun gun.
“There’s no way I could stand up. I had a broken back and a broken foot,” Mace said.
The Ozark police have begun an internal probe of the incident.
“I definitely want them to get punished, I don’t want them to get away with it,” Mace said.