West Towne Mall in Madison, Wis., was scene of Christmas Eve Taser incident (WTMJ-TV)

A Wisconsin man is reportedly planning to take legal action after he and his wife were blasted by a police Taser as they were finishing their holiday shopping Christmas Eve at a mall in Madison.

Major Lemon, 44, and his wife, Marissa, were at the crowded West Towne Mall during lunchtime Monday when approached by officers responding to an anonymous 9-1-1 call about someone in the mall with a gun.

According to the police report, officers arrived dressed in full military-style police uniform and observed a man matching the suspect description in the middle of the food court.

The report states:

The suspect had his hand in his pocket and began to physically resist, at that point officers took control of the suspect’s other arm. The suspect then made statements that he was going to punch an officer. Based on the weapon information and the suspect’s physical resistance, officers attempted to take the suspect to the ground. Because of the wet, snow-covered tile, they were unable to take the suspect to the ground. An additional officer responded, observed the physical struggle, and deployed their assigned electronic control device. One of the probes struck the suspect and the other probe struck the suspect’s wife.

“After holding onto him, I was Tased and they put us on the floor,” Marrisa Lemon told WTMJ-TV.

Lemon and his wife were secured in handcuffs. Marissa was later released with no charges or injuries. No weapon was found on Major Lemon, but he was charged with resisting and obstructing.

“I didn’t think it was right. A bunch of people were in here shopping. There were kids in here,” Tara Emery-Walls, general manager at Arby’s, told the Capital Times, noting those eating lunch quickly scattered. “It’s not right to do that on Christmas.”

Lemon’s sister, Regina, told local media that Major is no criminal.

“My brother was trying to play like Santa Claus, getting last minute things for other people in the family that didn’t have it,” she said. “And for him to come be like this, that’s sad.”

Published reports indicate Lemon has a long history of arrests, dating back to 1990. He’s been charged with disorderly conduct nine times.

“It obviously is an unfortunate incident,” Madison Police Sgt. David Samson told the Times, “but the officers have one of two ways of handling a situation like that. In either of those cases, the officers have to do something.”

The incident is already sparking debates about holiday safety versus police brutality on Internet messageboards.

Some of the comments include:

  • The police tell you to do something, do it. You can tell your story after the situation is under control. The worst thing you can do is to argue or fight with them, ’cause if you do, the Taser comes out and it is used. In this case, it was the right thing to do in a crowed situation where the report of a gun was involved. Good job!

  • This guy has a history of police contact. Of course, people will b-tch that the police should have held his hand and walked him outside for a counseling session. But it is those same people who, had the guy pulled a gun and started shooting with his left hand as the police were holding his right, would be b-tching that the police COULD have taken him down right away.

  • We do not have to do everything that some dumb cop tells us to do. Throw in the dumb West Towne “cop” and you have a whole bunch of idiot cops infringing on our rights. This case was yet another case of some overzealous cops with low IQs reaching for their Taser before reaching for their thinking cap.

  • My understanding is that Tasers are supposed to be used as an alternative to deadly force. If the police did not have Tasers, would they have been justified in discharging their firearm in this situation?

  • I don’t see why deadly force, or any force, was necessary in this situation. There was an anonymous call, probably a prank call, and the cops went after an innocent man. I would like to see the so-called description that was used to go after this innocent man. I wonder how good of a match it was?

  • I remember a time when police would talk and ask questions first to find out what a situation called for before calling in back-up and opening a can of whoop-a–. Now, get pulled over for speeding after sunset and it takes 3 patrol cars and a K-9 unit to give you a ticket. And God forbid you don’t bow before Zod when a cop asks you a question, since the Taser is replacing common sense as the first line of defense.

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