Susan Luzzaro 9:45 p.m., June 18
A court hearing has been set for Brooke Fantelli, a transgender woman who claims her being Tasered in the crotch by a Bureau of Land Management ranger was an act of discrimination, the Imperial Valley Press is reporting.
Fantelli, a Ramona resident, was arrested in Ocotillo Wells on October 22 on suspicion of public drunkenness, resisting arrest, and making terrorist threats. The arrest stemmed from her approaching a BLM truck that had been parked near a photo shoot she was participating in for over an hour. Fantelli said the ranger’s prolonged presence made some of her friends uncomfortable.
Upon being asked to provide identification, the ranger discovered Fantelli’s transgender status. Her doctor had required her to live as a woman for two years before officially changing her gender on her state ID, according to the Huffington Post. Fantelli was one month away from the two year mark at the time.
When the ranger learned of her transgender status, Fantelli says, the interaction turned hostile. The ranger ceased using the terms “she” and “her” to refer to Fantelli, instead referring to Fantelli as “he,” “dude,” and “it” during further interactions and through the course of her arrest.
A YouTube video appears to show Fantelli being struck by the officer’s Taser at a time when she is standing at a distance with her hands raised, seemingly signaling surrender. About 20 seconds into the film a popping noise is heard and Fantelli collapses to the ground, where she is quickly pinned by two BLM rangers.
“He actually looked me straight in the eye and says, 'You used to be a guy,' and I said, 'Yes, I did.' There was no way around it. I could see it in his eyes. He wanted to do that,” Fantelli told 10 News in an interview last month.
In a BLM statement released Wednesday that references the incident but does not refer to Fantelli by name, the agency’s El Centro field office declined to comment or release any specific information, but said an investigation was being conducted. “The BLM uses tasers as a law enforcement tool when threatening behavior is exhibited that poses a risk to public safety, as well as the safety of BLM staff,” reads a part of the release.