38-year-old school bus drive Audra Harmon was shuttling her two kids around Onondaga County with her hand on her cheek in January.
Officer Sean Andrews let her pass, pulled her over and accused her of talking on a cell phone while driving- a very steep fine in New York State. Harmon indicated that she could easily prove she’d not talked on her phone for two hours, so Andrews told her he’d also “observed” her exceeding the speed limit by five miles. (Andrews was not using a radar gun.) As he returned to his patrol car, Harmon exited her minivan and asked to “see the tape” on which she was allegedly using a cell phone. From Syracuse.com:
“You’ll have to take that up in court,” he responded, according to Harmon. He told her the evidence was in a box in his patrol car, and started walking back toward it. Harmon followed. That’s when he told her to get back in the van.
She says she didn’t refuse the order but told him once more that she wanted to see his proof. Andrews drew the Taser and pointed it at her.
“Mom, get back in the car,” she recalls her son telling her. A witness, Staci Santorelli, was across the road at the Shoot ‘n’ Score soccer center and heard Andrews tell Harmon she was under arrest. Harmon also says she remembers Andrews at some point telling her she was under arrest.
“I just wanted to get back in my car where I was safe and where my kids were,” Harmon says. Andrews told her to get out.
“But you just told me to get in,” she says she told Andrews. She heard her daughter crying, “Mommy! Mommy!”
At this point, Harmon remained in the vehicle, and recalls that she was “scared to death.” In the video, Officer Andrews is seen violently removing the woman from her vehicle and attempting to use the taser on her. In her heavy winter clothing, the first jolt doesn’t “take,” so Andrews grabs Harmon again, roughly, and aims the taser at her chest. She drops to her knees following the second jolt.
Andrews insists that he charged her with disorderly conduct for obstructing traffic when she exited the vehicle. Which is odd, considering his course of action following his use of the taser. Andrews “pushed her to the ground face-first and handcuffed her in the eastbound lane of Hopkins Road” while witness offered help to the woman from across the street. Harmon was subsequently arrested as witnesses summoned her husband to collect her children and take them home.
Andrews has since been removed from road duty pending an internal affairs investigation. Harmon is suing the county on grounds that the officer was improperly trained in using a taser gun, as she says she “posed no threat.” And she wants it to be understood that it’s okay to admit fault, and that in her case, Andrews had manufactured the speeding charge when he realized the cell phone charge was erroneous.
Watch the tasing incident, below: