We're a hawk on the issues.

Not Just Ferguson: Father of Five Dies After Multiple Tasings by Police

As the country’s attention has been focused on a small town in Missouri, on the West Coast a 36 year-old father of five died in police custody. Dante Parker was detained by police, according to NBC4 News, “when he was shocked with a Taser by deputies during a struggle to take him into custody.” He was riding a bicycle and allegedly tried to “break into a home,” which prompted the police to stop him. He was taken to the hospital where he died.

Parker worked for the Victorville Daily Press as a pressman and has five children ranging in age from five- to 19 years-old. He has no criminal record except for a DUI from 1997. According to the Daily Press, “Parker’s co-workers said he had stopped drinking earlier this year,” to help him lose weight. One of them even suggesting riding a bicycle as a way to get physically fit.

Parker was reportedly “under the influence of an unknown substance,” which they blame for his condition – out of breath, sweating – leading up to his death. Yet, in the struggle to detain him deputies used a Taser on him multiple times.

Dante Parker’s death has a racial element to it as well. With no criminal history, it seems very unlikely that Parker was “a burglar” but rather was experiencing some kind of episode, possibly brought on by drugs. Despite his singular DUI, he doesn’t seem to be someone who suffers from addiction. However even if he was an addict the White House has said that drugs are a public health issue and not a criminal one.

So why, instead of calming Parker down and allowing him to get medical help from paramedics, was he deemed “combative” and then attacked by multiple people? His “break in” attempt could have been something as simple as confusion, yet because he was a big, black man the cops (who in the NBC4 footage appear to be all white men, although apparently a female officer was also present) assumed the worst.

While the presumption of innocence seems to be a right that is slowly eroding for Americans of all races (but a singular economic class), there are certainly valid racial questions surrounding Parker’s death. The police should have treated Parker – or any person under the influence and not wholly rational – with a softer touch. He need help, not handcuffs.

Image via screengrab

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.