He stood there and tried to shake off the effects of having 50,000 volts of electricity surging through his body.
Standing around the room, several other police officers from the BPD and two officers from the Refugio Police Department laughed nervously. They knew their time was coming.
“You can breathe, you can see, but you just can’t do anything else,” Lt. Richard Cantu told the officers gathered around Rodriguez as he continued to shudder.
“This is another tool that our departments are going to use to help prevent a shooting,” Cantu said.
The lieutenant, a certified Taser instructor, was teaching the use of the non-lethal weapon to the officers in the center Monday. Most were supervisors with the BPD.
One of those standing around waiting his turn was Sgt. Mark Cruz. Ironically, his father, Albert Cruz, had pinned Mark’s sergeant’s badge on his uniform minutes earlier during a promotion ceremony at City Hall. The Taser class was his first assignment as a new supervisor. He was going to have to earn those stripes.
But Cruz was spared the additional pain that was in store for Sgt. Chris Bernal. He had volunteered to take the darts in the back while the others were simply hooked up to alligator clips. Seconds after Bernal was gently lowered onto the mats, Cantu bent down to remove the darts.
The officers came in close to watch as Cantu explained the proper way to pull out the darts without doing any more skin damage than was absolutely necessary.
The darts did draw a little blood but Cantu applied a disinfectant and a bandage to each tiny wound.
As the course continued, the duration of each victim’s torture varied from two to five seconds, depending on the whims of the officer.
One of the highlights came when Police Chief Joe Treviño stepped up to be zapped.
Like the others, Treviño tensed up and clenched his teeth in pain as soon as Cantu pulled the trigger on the Taser.
“It’s like getting a charley horse all over your body,” one of the guinea pigs commented after recovering from the experience.
Another described the sensation as an extremely painful few seconds that ends almost as quickly as the electric pulse ends.
Although recovery is fairly quick, the victim learns an important lesson.
Cantu said the Taser can be set to deliver its electric charge for any number of seconds, with the 10-second burst being the longest.
But as one supervisor said, “That’s the longest five seconds I’ve ever felt.”
Usually one burst of energy is all it takes to subdue an unruly person, Cantu said. The Tased subject will do anything to avoid another jolt electric current.
“I know one thing,” Treviño said after recovering from the jolt he received. “If an officer threatens you with a Taser, just give up.”
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.