When 17-year-old Steve Consalvi ran from the stands onto the field during the Phillies-Cardinals game May 3 in Philadelphia, he was aware that what he was doing was illegal. He certainly knew that he was going to get into trouble. What he did not know was that running onto the field could very well have been the last thing he ever did.
Consalvi was Tasered by a police officer while running along the outfield. He had eluded security guards for approximately 30 seconds before a police officer fired a Taser, bringing Consalvi to the ground immediately. The event is sure to be a YouTube sensation. It also could have killed him.
According to an Amnesty International report, there have been more than 300 deaths caused by Taser usage since 2001. Many of the victims were teenagers or boys close to Consalvi’s age.
Consalvi was obviously unarmed and was not threatening anyone. On top of that, he was trapped; there was no chance of escape from the ballpark or from arrest.
The only viable reason the officer could have had for firing the Taser would be that he was tired of chasing the teenager around. Are we supposed to take that as acceptable reasoning for the use of a potentially deadly weapon? Apparently we are, because many people are offering their support to the officer’s decision.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey responded by saying, “That officer acted appropriately. I support him 100 percent.” The mayor of Philadelphia has since given his full support to Ramsey.
Even Tom Gamboa, the Kansas City Royals first base coach who was attacked by two unruly fans in 2002, got his two cents in, saying, “I have to believe if a kid knew he was going to get Tasered, he wouldn’t have gone on the field.”
Ah, the old “that’ll show ’em” theory: If police make an example out of Consalvi, then other fans will surely refrain from running onto the field, right? Wrong.
In fact, the next game in Philadelphia, another man ran out onto the outfield. Two incidents in two days. Not only did the incident fail to make future fans think twice before running onto the field, it actually seems to have made them want to do it more.
No one can argue against the fact that any fan who leaves his or her seat and unlawfully enters the field of play is an idiot. What we must realize is that these actions, although rare, inevitably happen a few times every year.
If police officers are allowed to use the kind of force displayed in Philadelphia, then it is only a matter of time before someone gets killed. That is the last thing I would ever want to see at a baseball game.
FreelancerAlex Harkaway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org