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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Transgender Taser victim fighting potential charges
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2011-12-14

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A California transgender woman seen in a recent video being Tasered by police wants potential charges against her dropped.

Brooke Fantelli, owner of Fantelli Racing Products, claims that police Tased her in the stomach and genitalia after discovering that she is transgender.

The incident occurred Oct. 22, according to Fantelli's attorney, Dana Douglas.

Douglas said that Fantelli went with friends into the desert for a photo shoot that involved Fantelli's truck. During the shoot, Douglas said, a Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ranger approached the group and asked for identification.

Fantelli's identification had not been updated since she transitioned to female, due to a physician's request that she live for two years in her chosen gender before changing identification.

Douglas said that after the ranger saw Fantelli's ID, he began to use male pronouns and act hostilely.

"Up until he saw her driver's license, everything was fine," Douglas said. Once he saw Fantelli's identification, however, "his first response was 'oh you're a man,' and his demeanor completely changed," said Douglas.

Douglas alleges that the ranger watched the photo shoot for two hours until Fantelli told him he was making the models uncomfortable and asked him to leave. That is when the ranger told Fantelli he was arresting her for public drunkenness, Douglas said.

A cell-phone video, taken by one of the models and spread widely over the Internet, shows what happened next.

Fantelli is seen with her hands above her head when the officer uses the Taser, it appears on her stomach. She falls to the ground screaming, where authorities use a Taser again, allegedly in her genitals.

According to Douglas, Fantelli was arrested and booked on charges of public drunkenness, resisting arrest and making a terrorist threat. However, Douglas said, no official charges have yet been filed.

Douglas insists her client was sober during the incident and that another male in Fantelli's group was extremely drunk during the incident but was not arrested.

"Brooke had committed no crime whatsoever," Douglas said. "Her only crime was being transgender."

For now, Fantelli is simply asking that the case be dropped.

"She had actually hoped it would just go away," Douglas said. "If they want to make an issue of it, we will put the BLM on trial."

Douglas said that she and her client released the video publicly after waiting weeks for confirmation that the Imperial County State's Attorney would not press charges against her.

The Imperial County state's attorney's office has a minimum 48-hour turnaround on media requests and could not comment on potential charges in time for publication.

BLM responded to a Windy City Times inquiry and confirmed the incident. According to that statement, the bureau is investigating if the officer's actions were warranted.

"We take allegations of misuse of the use of force seriously, and evaluate the circumstances in any case when members of the public express concerns or make a complaint," the statement said.

However, the statement goes on to say that "it appears the ranger targeted appropriately in this case."


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