Reporter takes one for the team | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Reporter takes one for the team

William Ferchland
Special to the Tahoe Daily Tribune As William Ferchland gets jolted with a Taser, officers Rhett Gann, left, and Greg Evans keep him upright.
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Sudden and debilitating times in my life: Chicago Bears losing the NFC Divisional Championship after a 13-3 regular season, breaking my ankle senior year of varsity football and being Tasered by the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.

Only the Taser incident was under my control. I actually wanted to be hit with 50,000 volts.

I got into work late Friday morning. My only message was from Lt. Martin Hewlett, who said police officers were going through their final class on the department’s new non-lethal weapons.

When I called back, he asked if I wanted to get zapped. I said yes.

My knee-jerk response didn’t seem to take Hewlett by surprise. But the more I thought about it, the more antsy I became. I stopped drinking coffee and emptied my bowels to prepare.

I grabbed my camera before heading to the police department. Inside the conference room was Detective Danny Mosqueira and Officer Jeff Roberson instructing a group of 10 on the Taser’s ability. Most were hit for one second before I got there.

Somebody mentioned a video where a stun gun collapsed an 800-pound steer.

“It dropped him like a steak,” Hewlett said.

For a successful hit, two darts must make a connection with the body. A current was attached to my right shoulder and another was placed on my left calve. Tape was also applied, which I learned was to prevent my skin from burning. Two officers stood on either side of me to hold me up.

An audience quickly formed. I thought of some other people, like angry sources, jilted ex-girlfriends, high school enemies and my family, who would like to witness my first-hand introduction to electricity.

I expected a countdown or a warning but all I got was silence. Then it happened. My entire body clenched and shook when 50,000 volts were released without a sound, except a yell from me.

I made fists and closed my eyes. It wasn’t that painful. It was more like an extremely uncomfortable jarring that I wanted immediately stopped. For a moment I had a thought the officers would keep the juice flowing to have fun with the reporter. After all, this had to be a rare opportunity for them.

But the second lasted only a second.

I exhaled and looked around. Practically everyone was smiling. Somebody might have clapped but I’m not sure. I was preoccupied with the idea that smoke might have been coming out of my ears.

or I might now have some special powers.

Except for a slight headache that lasted for awhile, I felt fine. I remarked the jolt was better than coffee.

This thing would be great to mess with my friends, I thought.

My editors were surprised I actually went with it when I got back to the office. I felt like I just did a skit for MTV’s “Jackass.”

Afterward, I spoke to Mosqueira by telephone. He said he was hit for the full five seconds.

“It was the longest five seconds of my life,” he said.


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