St. Lawrence County woman tased at border patrol checkpoint

Still from Jesse Cooke video

Still from Jesse Cooke video

A disturbing incident at a U.S. Border Patrol roadside checkpoint near Ogdensburg that was captured on video is going viral via Facebook.

Jess Cooke, an Ogdensburg native and criminal justice student at SUNY Canton, distributed a video of herself being tackled and tased for more than a minute by Border Patrol officers following an exchange that led to a confrontation.

In the video, Cooke appears to have been pulled over for secondary inspection at the checkpoint. Cooke asks two officers repeatedly why she is being detained, to which the officers initially give no direct answer. “I’m not the only one who observed your nervous behavior,” says the female agent. After the male agent instructs Cooke to walk back to her car, and she refuses, the male agent tackles Cooke while the female agent applies a taser to Cooke’s back, according to Cooke’s description on the Facebook post:

They held me against my will until the K-9 Unit come to check out my car! I tryed to see what was going on after i had to pull over and wait. A MAN pushed me and then threw me to the ground while a WOMAN stood there and tazed me until I stopped screaming!! Then they cuffed and arrested me and put me in the Border Patrol car while they illegally opened my whole car and trunk and searched it!!! ILLEGALLY!!! They had no warrant and no reason to search it!!

In the video, Cooke is heard screaming for more than a minute for the tasing to stop.

According to Cooke, following a search Border Patrol officers found nothing of concern in her car or trunk.

Shelby Benson-Fuller, a spokesman for U.S. Border Patrol Swanton sector, says a public response to the incident is being prepared at this hour.

Roadside checkpoints have become commonplace on roads leading away from the U.S.-Canada border throughout the North Country. U.S. Border Patrol says they are used to find undocumented immigrants, drugs, and potential terrorists.

We’ll have updates to this story as they become available.

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32 Comments on “St. Lawrence County woman tased at border patrol checkpoint”

  1. Jim Bullard says:

    Welcome the police state. Whatever you do, don’t look like you are nervous.

  2. The Original Larry says:

    I would like to hear how the BP agents explain what their probable cause was (I doubt looking “nervous” will qualify) and why they escalated the situation when it was obvious they didn’t have to. I support law enforcement in the lawful exercise of their duties but they are clearly out of control here. Too often lately, police officers feel they don’t have to explain themselves or their behavior and will goad citizens into confrontations. That’s not the professionalism we have a right to expect.

  3. myown says:

    Clearly the definition of the border being 100 miles wide is absurd. And the Border Patrol is out of control – too many similar reports. We over-reacted to 9/11 with the (unpatriotic)Patriot Act, Homeland Security Dept, NSA domestic spying, etc. and are on our way to a police state that would be the envy of of the Stasi.

    The Border Patrol needs to go back to patrolling the border – at the border. When you are coming into the US, at the border crossing, yes there are legitimate reasons for searches, questions, etc. But these kinds of Border Patrol checkpoints far away from the border and based on “looking nervous” clearly violate US citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights and should not be lawful.

  4. mike says:

    they were less than 1/4 mile from boarder. boarder is not just a point of entry. just yesterday someone was stopped with an illegal in their truck locally. just cooperate and be on your way

  5. Marlo Stanfield says:

    You hear the stuff the Border Patrol agents were saying after they tased her? Saying she put her hands on them and assaulted a federal officer? All of which was clearly not true. It’s like they’re reading from a script, and I recognize those lines. The more of these videos I see, where police officers falsely claim someone was resisting or whatever and it turns out it’s not true, it makes me trust them less and less. How many people get convicted based on a lie that they were fighting, when they weren’t but there wasn’t a camera there to verify their story?

  6. Two Cents says:

    our chickens are coming home to roost.
    thank you homeland security and gw bush.
    thank you Obama for not defunding this bullshit when you had the chance.

    fuck the police

  7. The Original Larry says:

    How did I know someone wouldn’t be able to resist blaming this on Bush? Not that he has anything at all to do with out-of-control police officers. So, you blame Bush for what he did and Obama for what he didn’t do. Maybe you have some original ideas on keeping America safe?

  8. Mischa says:

    It’s amazing to me that all of you have an opinion, yet you have never been trained in border patrol law enforcement unless of course you forgot to mention that…
    It’s possible she matched a description of someone they were looking for…
    They asked her nicely, repeatedly to move back to her car and she did not.
    She was at a border checkpoint. These officers were doing their job. Do you know for certain what or who they were looking for? Do you walk in their shoes?
    Lastly, of ALL the people to give the officers a difficult time, it was her. A 21 year old know it all that had just graduated with a law enforcement degree. Does that automatically make her right? Has she been through their training? If she was so smart, why did she challenge them? It would have been much easier had she understood they were doing their job and also understood they could have had intel that matched some or all of her. Apparently she isn’t/wasn’t smart and would make a lousy officer.
    All of you people are quick to judge but if the shit ever hits the fan, you’ll be the first to call the law.
    Innocent until proven otherwise! It’s dumb ass people like you that has this country in trouble! KNOW THE FACTS BEFORE YOU OPEN YOUR MOUTH!

  9. Marlo Stanfield says:

    I do think Bush deserves some blame for the widespread use of these interior checkpoints after 9/11. It always seemed wrong to me that the state police would use them to write tickets for seat belts, inspections, marijuana possession, etc., that they wouldn’t have caught people on otherwise. The whole thing is an end-run around the Fourth Amendment, I understand we had to do something to improve security but throwing out the Constitution on roads within 100 miles of the border and taking advantage of the terrorist threat to ticket people over BS was the wrong response.

    I’m not saying it’s all Bush’s fault — pretty much everyone in politics, Democrat and Republican, supported it, or at least didn’t speak up against it, and Obama continued it. And there certainly are larger issues of police brutality and accountability that are part of what happened in this video. But as the guy who was ultimately in charge when we decided to put up so many of these checkpoints in the North Country, Bush does deserve some of the blame for the flaws in one of his policies.

  10. Two Cents says:

    who “invented” homeland security?
    bush
    who has had the chance to make it go away?
    obama

    let me throw another log on the fire.
    next time semi-home made Sandra lee comes up north to buy some local honey for her “tablescape”
    taze her. see how cuomo reacts

  11. The Original Larry says:

    Homeland Security has nothing at all to do with police officers abandoning professionalism and engaging in provocative behavior. That said, I still haven’t read any comments suggesting a viable alternative.

  12. Bill says:

    George W didn’t invent Homeland Security. It was originally designed by the Clinton Administration and George W was against it immediately after 9/11. Democrats in Congress were pushing for it. George W changed his postion about six months after 9/11. It’s about halfway down in this CNN article. http://www.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/11/25/homeland.security/

  13. Marlo Stanfield says:

    Have we ever caught a terrorist at one of these checkpoints? You could get rid of them entirely and I wouldn’t feel any less safe. That’s my suggested alternative.

  14. Two Cents says:

    “Homeland Security has nothing at all to do with police officers abandoning professionalism and engaging in provocative behavior. ”

    if that’s what you believe, you’re a fool

  15. Will Doolittle says:

    The incompetence. That’s what overwhelms me watching this truly horrible video. The inability of the officers to do their job — their complete haplessness — leads them to assault this woman. Because they can’t think of anything else to do. They’re moronic. It’s discouraging to see that this is the level of our officers. Many high-schoolers could have handled this harmless situation without violence.

  16. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    OL, I’ve been offering suggestions for viable alternatives on here for years…the answer is a holistic approach to changing our society. We need fewer wars and more diplomacy in order to reduce antagonism which would reduce the likelihood of terrorism. We need to be less afraid of threats that aren’t likely to happen and we need to work on threats that occur more often, such as less fear of foreign terror and more work on violence within our country…which goes to economic questions. I could go on to many other topics but over all it gets down to a change in the way we look at the world which can be illustrated by the way we changed training animals.
    We no longer feel that bustin’ broncos is the way to train a horse, nor do we believe that beating a dog is an effective training method. Intimidation is not an appropriate strategy to dealing with creatures great and small.

  17. dave says:

    Can you imagine a society in which each person gets to pick and choose the lawful commands/requests they want to obey? What kind of society would that be? Chaotic and lawless are two adjectives that come to mind. But either way, it is certainly not a society I would want to live in.

  18. The Original Larry says:

    I don’t doubt the sincerity of your thoughts, KHL, but the underlying naïveté astounds me. We can change our approach, sure, but what about our enemies, to say nothing of our friends? Obama’s negotiations with Iran, for example, certainly represent more diplomacy, but look how our “allies” have responded. The Iranians, meanwhile, must surely be laughing their asses off at how neatly and effectively Obama has done their work for them. He hands them a free pass for their nuclear program and causes dissension and mistrust among their enemies as well! That’s a real coup for diplomacy.

  19. Will Doolittle says:

    There’s no such thing as this “lawful commands” notion. Show me the state law that says citizens must do what a police officer tells them to do, as long as it doesn’t break a law. There is no such law.
    There is a military rule that soldiers have to obey lawful orders. That makes sense, in the military. One of the big problems with our modern policing is it has tended toward the militaristic, and unfortunately, many citizens buy into this idea. So they embrace the fantasy that citizens must do what police tell them to. This is false. If an officer comes to my door and says, “Step outside,” I am perfectly within my rights to say, “No, thank you,” and to shut the door. Police must have a legitimate reason for telling someone to do something. They aren’t granted godlike powers to control people, simply because they’re a police officer.

  20. Will Doolittle says:

    A society where citizens have the right not to do everything police officers tell them to do is the very definition of a state where citizens have civil rights, where they have freedoms. A society where citizens must obey what officers tell them to do is the definition of a police state.

  21. Will Doolittle says:

    To take one basic but important example: If police tell you you have to answer questions when they’ve stopped you on the street, that is false. It’s lawful to answer questions, but you have the legal right to remain silent. And, if they have not arrested you, you have the legal right to leave. Police cannot hold you against your will. It certainly is lawful for you to stay and answer questions, but you have the right to walk away.

  22. dave says:

    “A society where citizens must obey what officers tell them to do is the definition of a police state.”

    Depends on if what they are telling you to do is lawful or not. If it is, than this is NOT the definition of a police state… it is the definition of a state based on the rule of law. Which is what we are.

    Surely you know the difference.

    If a cop walks up to you and tells you to get down on all fours and squeal like a pig… there is no lawful reason for that request.

    If a cop has reasonable suspicion (it’s a legal term, look it up) that you are engaging in illegal activity, they can issue lawful commands and requests. Such as, move away from your vehicle.

  23. Marlo Stanfield says:

    Whether it was a lawful order or not, the response was clearly disproportionate. That Border Patrol officer even told her she could leave, obviously they didn’t consider her a physical threat. You don’t get to electrocute people because they pissed you off.

  24. Doc says:

    From what I heard in the video, she probably earned her ride on the wire. No need or reason to give these people all that crap. They’re doing a tough job. Just appreciate it, smile, follow directions (I know this is the hard part for a lot of people), and be on your way.

  25. Doc says:

    By the way…having the ‘degree” didn’t make her all that smart, did it!

  26. Will Doolittle says:

    Well, then, Dave, we are saying the same thing. The order must not only be lawful — telling someone to do something that is legal — there must be a reason for it. Even if there is a reason, it must meet a legal threshold or you are not obliged to obey. As I said, if an officer wants to question you, she may have a good reason. But if she isn’t arresting you, you do not have to answer. You don’t even have to stick around. You have the right to walk away. This whole idea of “lawful order” has been used to justify police use of force when it isn’t justified, because citizens didn’t do something police officers told them to do, even though they had no legal obligation to obey.

  27. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    OL, instead of dismissing my contention as naive why not consider that I could be correct. Certainly a non-confrontational approach to resolving problems is likely to take time but it is demonstrably less expensive and very likely more effective than the typical confrontational approach you seem to favor.

    Take a look at the Baltimore Police. How many $millions have they had to pay in legal settlements due to their improper and confrontational tactics?

    On Iran, you seem to be dismissing the current policy as a failure but from my point of view it is a step toward diplomatic resolution of enmity with a country we need not have as an enemy. It is very likely that we will have steps forward and steps backward in our relationship with Iran before we can be assured of lasting peace. We still have the option of war but war is a terrible option. Iran is not Iraq, nor is it Afghanistan. Iran is a relatively powerful country and war with them would likely end up costing several $trillion, millions of people would be killed, maimed or sent into refuge and Border Patrol would likely be even more busy with worries of Iranian agents crossing the border.

    We have had a policy of sanctions against Iran and the sanctions have worked to bring them to the negotiating table. Now it is time to take the next step – the step that sanctions were designed to get us to. NOT taking the next step of eliminating sanctions would be incredibly dangerous because we would be seen as an unreliable negotiating partner. Like I said, policy should be like training your dog or raising a child; consistency is incredibly important.

    And just as beating a dog for not sitting when you tell it to sit is an ineffective – and perhaps dangerous – training method, so too is tasing a troublesome citizen an ineffective means of upholding the law and maintaining the public’s trust that law enforcement needs to be effective.

  28. Jason Lewis says:

    Obviously the woman was in the right…..tho CBO will spin things their way, the way cops usually do

  29. The Original Larry says:

    Appeasement is not diplomacy; neither is alienating friends and allies. It may yet be successful, and for all our sakes I hope it is, but history says otherwise.

  30. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    The Appeasement meme is overworked and not applicable. We had a policy to get Iran to halt its nuclear enrichment and weapons program. By all accounts they are acceding to our wishes. Our deal was that if they gave up their program we would lift sanctions. A deal is a deal. IF they backslide on the deal we reimpose sanctions or take other steps. Doesn’t seem that hard to understand.

    If by alienating friends and allies you refer to Israel or Saudi Arabia I say good. Saudi Arabia needs to ratchet back their support of radicals. Israel too. Just because a country is our ally doesn’t mean we should countenance all their actions. Israel must stop settlement building on Palestinian lands, end the practice of apartheid, and take other steps toward a just peace with Palestinians. Today we saw one very small step in allowing a small number of Palestinians to drive their cars in Israel. That isn’t much, but is a step. More small steps on each side would be positive. Much of the anger against us in the Middle East stems from our support of Israel even when they do wrong. It doesn’t look fair that we hardly object to Israel when they kill our citizens.

  31. The Original Larry says:

    Appeasement is the diplomatic practice of making concessions in the hope of avoiding conflict, and history is replete with examples. It exactly describes our current relationship with Iran, whether one approves of that relationship or not. Also, how much do you think Iran will trust us now that they see how easily we roll over on our erstwhile allies?

  32. Will Doolittle says:

    It’s weird how people can’t or won’t distinguish between bad behavior that is rude and behavior that warrants getting tackled and tasered — physically assaulted. People are rude all the time and it’s reprehensible. I hate it when I see someone act in a rude way to a waiter or waitress; I hate it when a clerk in an office is rude to me for no reason. It makes the world a tiny bit less bright and good. In a small way, it’s a sin, in my opinion. But it does not in any way justify assault, not with the body and not with a weapon. There is no reason to even mention, when commenting on stories like this, whether the person who was assaulted was rude, because that is not a justification for getting assaulted by the police. Not even the police would claim it is.

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