Cop Watch

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Police silence helps tell the rest of the story in Taser incident in Oakley

ASHEVILLE - In a story yesterday about an Asheville police officer being fired after allegedly using excessive force against Kyle Ross, an unarmed 48-year-old schoolteacher and mom, what did not get said in print puts an even sharper focus on what actually happened.

For background, Ross was on her way to walk her neighbor’s dog in the Oakley area when confronted by a police officer, our story reported. Officer Matthew Lawson is alleged to have used his Taser on Ross multiple times, sending powerful electrical charges into her as he arrested her — and handcuffed her — on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting public officers. Two other officers were on the scene to back up Lawson.

Let me say that again: Three armed police officers vs. a 48-year-old single mom.

Our story said all that. But what it did not say is how the newspaper learned of this incident. That alone is telling.

Police didn’t tell us until we asked about it.

Neither did Ross, who by all accounts patiently but persistently asked police only that charges against her be dropped and police take measures to protect other innocents. In other words, she was not out to stir the pot. This is no troublemaker looking for revenge, just an average citizen who knew things were not supposed to happen like this.

We had to find her; she did not come looking for us.

This story came to the newspaper from someone very close to the Asheville Police Department, someone who expressed outrage at how the department handled the incident. This person was upset with what Ross had to go through to get her record cleared.

Our source was not an anti-police type, but a long-time member of the law enforcement fraternity who believes law-abiding citizens should feel protected by — not afraid of — police. He came to the newspaper because he thought things were not happening as they should.