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Newton woman tasered by Nashua police after refusing to leave Apple store

Posted by Evan Allen  December 12, 2012 03:36 PM

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Nashua police tasered a Newton, Mass., woman outside of an Apple store in Pheasant Lane Mall in New Hampshire on Tuesday after she refused to leave the store and resisted arrest, the police department said.

Xiaojie Li, 44, was charged with criminal trespass and resisting arrest, according to Nashua police Captain Bruce Hansen. She was released a few hours later after making the $300 cash bail, and is due back in court on Jan. 15, he said.

Li could not immediately be reached for comment. In an interview with New Hampshire's WMUR channel 9, she said through an interpreter that she did not speak English and did not understand what was happening when she was arrested.

Li had been asked to leave the store on Saturday, according to police, but came back on Tuesday. Hansen said he believed she was asked to leave because of concerns over her videotaping in the store, but said that police were not in the store at the time.

An employee at the Apple Store declined to comment, and a spokeswoman for Apple declined to comment.

Li told WMUR she was at the store to buy iPhones for her family, and began filming other customers purchasing multiple iPhones when she was not allowed to buy more than two at a time.

When Li returned on Tuesday, according to Hansen, she was asked to leave by management and refused, repeatedly asking “why.” A Nashua police officer who was working a paid detail in the store told her that she had to leave or she would face charges for criminal trespassing, and she asked “why” again.

When Li again refused to leave, the officer told her she was under arrest. She continued asking “why,” and resisted when the officer tried to handcuff her, police said.

“One handcuff was on her and she wouldn’t move her other arm to be handcuffed,” said Hansen. “The officer took her to the ground and called for assistance.”

Li lay on the ground for about 10 to 15 minutes, said Hansen, before a second police officer arrived.

“They told her to put her hand behind her back, she refused to do so,” he said. “She was tased. After that, she put her hand behind her back.”

Hansen said that when Li was booked, she had $16,000 in cash with her.

Video of the incident obtained by New Hampshire's WMUR channel 9 shows the woman screaming on the ground with two officers on top of her. The taser can be heard crackling.

Officers used a “dry force” taser, said Hansen, which is less painful than the type of taser that shoots electrodes at the target to deliver the shock. A dry force taser has no probes, and is instead pressed directly to the skin. It delivers 50,000 volts, he said, but has no lasting effects.

Hansen said that the officers’ use of the taser was in compliance with the department’s use of force policy.

“It’s a force continuum,” he said. “As things escalate, you use more force or more devices to use force. In this case, she resisted arrest, and we didn’t use compliance blows on her. We couldn’t really use pepper spray. We were in a closed area where there were other people and children. A dry stun taser and pepper spray are on the same level. It was decided to use a dry force taser.”

Forcing someone’s arms behind their back to handcuff them, he said, is surprisingly difficult if they are resisting, and twisting their arms can hurt them.

“Bottom line, we don’t want to hurt anybody,” said Hansen. “Could they have got [her arm] behind her back using a lot of physical strength? Maybe. But she would have got hurt along the way.”

The officers involved have filled out department paperwork on their use of force, but Hansen said there are no issues with it.

“This video that’s floating around shows our guys and her screaming – well yeah, it hurts,” he said. “That’s what it’s designed to do. It’s a temporary thing.”

Asked whether Li spoke English and understood exactly what was happening, Hansen said that while it was not clear how much English she spoke, police were confident that she understood what was going on.

“I would look at it this way,” he said. “She was asked to leave the store before and she left. She was asked to leave Tuesday and she was asking why. We think she knew what was going on.”

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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