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Monday, March 22, 2010

Brett Elder's story to be featured in documentary on Taser use

March 22, 2010
By Shannon Murphy | The Bay City Times

Brett Elder’s story will be told beyond the Bay City area.

A documentary filmmaker from Missouri is featuring the story of Elder’s March 22, 2009, death in a film about the use of Tasers by police departments.

Elder was 15 when he was shocked by a Bay City police officer’s Taser and died a short time later.

Filmmaker Nick Berardini said he became interested in the issue of Taser safety while he was a journalism student at the University of Missouri. While Berardini was working for an NBC-affiliate news station, a young man in Moberly, Mo., died after he was Tasered for more than 30 seconds by police.

“That situation was so scary to us. We thought we’d look into it and see if there was anything similar going on elsewhere,” Berardini said.

Elder’s story will be featured in the documentary along with four other young men across the country who had Tasers used on them. Four died; the fifth is in a coma, Berardini said.

The film takes a look at Taser’s popularity with police departments and why they are used so often, Berardini said.

Berardini was not able to speak with Elder’s family, but spoke with several of his friends.

He said Elder’s situation surprised and alarmed him.

“It’s unfair that (the police) can manipulate a situation like Brett’s. They can say he’s taking a combative stance and justify using a weapon on a kid, when in reality it should be fairly simple to calm everyone down,” Berardini said. “The idea that anyone be objected to any level of force for simply not responding to an officer’s commands is very alarming to us.”

Berardini’s film is in post production and he hopes to show it at film festivals this fall. He has not yet released the film’s name.

Those interested in learning more about the film and updates can check out Berardini’s blog at www.taserfilm.blogspot.com.

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