Aspen Police Taser Homeless Woman

June 2006

Who knew that Aspen had homeless people?

An Aspen police officer reportedly used a Taser on a 63-year-old homeless woman and may face disciplinary action, the Aspen Daily News reported Tuesday. Officer Melinda Calvano fired two 50,000-volt bursts into Carol Alexy while trying to arrest the woman for suspected theft last week, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified law enforcement sources.

The facts known so far: Officer Calvano thought Ms. Alexy had stolen a garment from a thrift shop and ordered her to drop it and put her arms up. Ms. Alexy collapsed. Calvano told her to get up, and when she didn't, she tasered her. Alexy was not a stranger in town.

Alexy, who has lived in Aspen for 30 years, is well known among locals for wearing sparkly T-shirts and carrying a walking stick.

What was Calvano thinking? If Alexy was on the ground, how hard could it have been to walk over and cuff her? Tasers are dangerous. Amnesty International has linked over 70 deaths to Tasers since 2001, according to one of its reports. Shoplifting and resisting arrest shouldn't be grounds for a possible death sentence.

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