A Florida state trooper is being accused of racial profiling after he was seen repeatedly tasing and arresting a biracial teen. 16-year-old Jack Rodeman was visiting his girlfriend when Trooper George Smyrnios drew his Taser and approached the teen. The footage was captured on a backyard security camera.
Smyrnios can be heard telling Rodeman to put his hands behind back. Rodeman tells the trooper that his girlfriend is about to come outside, saying “I didn’t do nothing.”
“I told you to do something; turn around,” Smyrnios says.
“I need to call her,” Rodeman responds.
Seconds after the exchange, Smyrnios fired the Taser at Rodeman, who dropped to the ground and began screaming. Smyrnios ordered the teen to put his hands behind his back, warning that he was going to shock him once more, which he immediately does. Rodeman screamed in pain then rolled on his stomach, placing his hands behind his back.
As Smyrnios is cuffing Rodeman, Rodeman’s girlfriend exits the house and tries to intervene.
Smyrnios can be heard saying, “For some reason, you think you can do exactly what you want to do — and you can’t.”
“No, I’m sorry,” Rodeman responded while his girlfriend looks on with her hands covering her face.
Rodeman was then taken into custody and charged with loitering, possession of marijuana, and disobeying an officer.
According to the arrest report, Smyrnios said that he began following Rodeman because he was wearing all-black clothing, appearing “suspicious”. Smyrnios also claimed that Rodeman “darted” into the bushes to hide when he saw the patrol car.
Smyrnios filed an amended report saying that he could not see Rodeman’s hands and was concerned he might have been in possession of a gun. In the footage, Rodeman has both hands on his cell phone, though his back is turned to the camera in the recording.
Rodeman returned home after 10 days in juvenile detention.
Kris Rodeman, Jack’s mother, said that she “has no doubt” that her son was racially profiled. She plans on taking legal action for excessive force. According to Derek Tyler, her attorney, Smyrnios’s actions amounted to “torture of a child with no justification.”
The use of force is under administrative review by the Florida Highway Patrol.