The mother of a biracial teen in Florida believes her son was racially profiled by a state trooper, who tased him while he was on the way to his girlfriend’s house.
As NBC News reported, 16-year-old Jack Rodeman was heading to his partner’s home when he was confronted by Trooper George Smyrnios. “Hey! Put your hands behind your back,” the cop ordered, to which the teen insisted he did nothing wrong. “I told you to do something, turn around,” Smyrnios said again. He proceeded to use his stun gun on Rodeman for refusing to comply and caused him to fall to the ground. The trooper then threatened to tase him a second time if he failed to place his hand behind his back — a promise he kept when Rodeman was slow to act.
Rodeman was arrested and charged with failing to obey a lawful order, resisting without violence and possession of fewer than 20 grams of marijuana, which he reportedly took from a bottle of his mother’s prescription medicine. As the trooper handcuffed the 16-year-old, he said, “For some reason, you think you can do exactly what you wanna do, but you can’t.”
According to Smyrnios’ written account of the incident, he decided to approach Rodeman because he thought he was suspicious. “I saw the defendant (a suspicious person) dressed in black pants, black sweater/hoodie and black tennis shoes,” said the report. “His behavior, demeanor and body language appeared to be a burglar. It looked to me like he had just committed a crime or was about to commit a crime,” Smyrnios wrote.
When the trooper walked in Rodeman’s direction, the teen allegedly ran away and hid in some bushes before making his way into a backyard — a route he typically takes to his girlfriend’s house. Smyrnios said that he identified himself before making orders and tased the teen only after he was noncompliant.
Rodeman’s mother, however, believes her son was targeted because of his race. “He was profiled because he is Black in black clothes. There is no doubt in my mind,” said Kristina Rodeman. “He wasn’t doing anything wrong. He literally was just walking down the street going to his girlfriend’s.”
Ultimately, she wants Smyrnios to be held accountable for his actions. “I’m going after him for excessive force,” she told USA Today. “I’ve read about things they have to follow or abide by also and from what I’m seeing, he had no right to do that. They have rules they have to go by too. I don’t want this to happen to another child.”