Sean Williams sat on the curb in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, arms outstretched following the officers’ commands, at times conflicting, while being threatened to be shocked with a taser. The white male officer, Philip Bernot, the one with the black and yellow Taser, trained on Williams’s back, repeatedly told him “legs out!” and “straight out!”

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The female officer, Shannon Mazzante, off-camera but just as insistent, was shouting, “Put your legs straight out and cross them now!

Their wording and Williams’ sudden moves made headlines because by about 10:30 Thursday morning, their commands became threats. “Legs straight out, or you’re getting tased,” Bernot warned.


Moments later, Williams, whose legs were not fully extended, shifted his legs. Bernot then squeezed the trigger, sending taser prongs and a current of electricity through Williams’s body — and sparking virulent protests about what many claim is an abuse of power against a person who never posed a threat to officers.

He was arrested on drug possession and public drunkenness charges, both from a warrant unrelated to Thursday’s call.