Family Members Convicted for Trying to Stop Tasering of Man With Heart Problem

May 4, 2011 by David S. Seltzer

As a Miami resisting arrest criminal defense attorney, I know that "resisting arrest" is often misused by police officers to punish arrestees they don't happen to like. But I was still surprised to read that a Kendall woman and her adult son were convicted of resisting an officer without violence because they tried to stop police from Tasering another adult son with a heart condition. Ana Ramirez and Hernando Yunis were convicted last week by a Miami jury on charges stemming from their attempt to pry Taser prongs off of Christian Pagan. Pagan, 25, has Down syndrome and an unspecified heart condition, and spent several weeks in the hospital after the incident.

Ramirez is the mother of both Pagan and Yunis. She had originally called 911 to stop a violent outburst by Pagan, New Times Miami reported April 27, but specifically asked the officers not to use the Taser. However, Pagan reportedly charged one of the responding officers outside the home, and the officer used the Taser, saying she feared for her safety. That's when Yunis and Ramirez tried to pry the prongs of the stun gun off of their brother and son. For their trouble, they were arrested for "resisting arrest without violence," the less serious of Florida's two resisting arrest crimes. Yunis and Ramirez will not serve jail time and the conviction will not be on their records, but each must pay $400 in court costs, the New Times said.

To me, as a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney, this story underscores how arbitrarily police use charges for "resisting an officer." Yunis and Ramirez were clearly trying to protect Pagan, and they did it in a way that does not appear to have put the officer in any danger. Indeed, the most serious danger in the encounter appears to be the danger the officer knowingly put Pagan in by Tasering him, despite having been warned about his heart problem. In general, resisting an officer without violence is a useful charge for police officers who feel that someone has been disrespectful or uncooperative. That means it's very easy for police officers to misuse on people they just happen not to like. An experienced south Florida obstruction of justice criminal defense lawyer can fight for clients in this position, forcing police officers to specify in court exactly what behavior they felt rose to the level of criminal so jurors can decide for themselves.

If you're accused of resisting an officer in south Florida, alone or along with other crimes, and you'd like to fight for your rights, you should call Seltzer Law, P.A. for help. We offer free, confidential case evaluations, so you can tell us about your situation and get an expert opinion at no cost or obligation. To speak to us today, call us at 1-888-843-3333 or send us a message through our website.