Phils, police discussing use of Taser on fan
High school student taken down after running onto field
PHILADELPHIA -- A Phillies fan who made a bold move Monday night found himself in the middle of controversy Tuesday, as debate raged whether a Philadelphia police officer should have used a Taser gun on him.
Philadelphia police said the officer who tasered 17-year-old Steve Consalvi on Monday night after he ran onto the field at Citizens Bank Park in front of a sellout crowd during the Phillies game against the Cardinals acted appropriately. But the department is reviewing whether police officers should be involved in those incidents, according to The Associated Press.
To start the top of the eighth inning, Consalvi, who was wearing a black Phillies hat, red Phillies T-shirt and khaki shorts, jumped over a wall in right field and ran towards center field waving a white towel. After getting to shallow left-center, he sprinted back the other way and eluded two security officers. Then, about 30 seconds after jumping onto the field, he was shot with a Taser gun, forcing him to slide face-first onto the ground, where he stayed for another 30 seconds before being lifted up in handcuffs.
Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth was prepared to strike the fan with his glove as he approached him, but once the fan realized Werth considered him hostile, he said, "No! I love you!" and ran in a different direction.
"You're just kind of programmed to know that if somebody comes on the field, they're fair game, because you just don't know what they're going to do," Werth said. "History could repeat itself."
On Tuesday night, another fan hopped onto the field at Citizens Bank Park before the top of the ninth inning. He was escorted away without incident.
Two fans ran onto the field and pummeled former Royals first-base coach Tom Gamboa in Chicago in 2002. A folded up pocket knife fell out of one of the fan's pockets.
Consalvi was charged with defiant trespass, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Running onto the field is a crime, but normally fans are tackled to the ground. Police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore told The AP that Commissioner Charles Ramsey reviewed the tape and felt the officer acted within the department's guidelines.
But the Phillies and the police department are still discussing whether the use of the stun gun was appropriate. The Phillies said Tuesday night no decisions have been made. The department also is reviewing whether its officers should be on the field chasing fans who aren't threatening anyone in the future.
"Should we be on the field at all? I think that's what's being looked at," Vanore told The AP. "I'm not sure we should be chasing people around the field."
Phillies spokesperson Bonnie Clark said in a statement Monday night that it was the first time a Taser gun had ever been used by a Philadelphia police to apprehend a field jumper, adding: "The Police Department is investigating this matter, and the Phillies are discussing with them whether in future situations this is an appropriate use of force under these circumstances."
Appropriate or not, Consalvi's mother, Amy Zeigler, wanted to apologize for her son.
"I want to make a public apology to the Philadelphia Phillies. They're a good team. They don't deserve this," Zeigler told myfoxphilly.com. "My son is upset about this. He regrets it. He still loves them. We want them to go far."
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the teenager phoned home and asked his dad for permission before running onto the field.
"He said, 'Dad, can I run on the field?,'' his father, Wayne, told the Inquirer. "I said, 'I don't think you should, son.'"
The father, who described his son -- a senior at Boyertown High School -- as a "real good student, heading to Penn State," referred to the incident as "teenagers having fun."
"He wasn't drinking. He was not on drugs," he said.
"I don't recommend running on the field, but I don't think they should have Tased him at all," Wayne added.
But the Phillies and Cardinals generally had no problem with the police officer using a Taser gun.
"You're not supposed to run on the field," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. "The bottom line is, you're not supposed to run on the field."
What would Manuel have done about it?
"You don't want to know," he said, laughing. "You don't want to know what I'd want to do. It wouldn't be good."
St. Louis manager Tony La Russa added, "To me, the idea is to make a deterrent, and that was a pretty significant deterrent. I don't know if I'd be thinking too much about going out there again if that was possible."
La Russa also said it is easy to second-guess the police officer because the fan intended no harm.
"If somebody comes up there and does some damage, they're going to be second-guessing not doing anything," he said. "I just think it's acceptable, because it's a good deterrent."
Said Phillies right-hander Nelson Figueroa: "We don't know if this guy has a weapon on him. We don't know if this guy is on drugs or alcohol. We didn't even know how old he was. You don't know what his mind-set is. This guy is obviously not a happy. You never know. I've played all around the world. The Domincian, Mexico, China. You've got fans who get very animated at games, and at times, they throw bottles and rocks and they want to come down on the field and fight the players. In the best interest of the player you try to have security there and whatever means necessary to keep us safe. Hopefully it was an example and set a precedent where people realize they're not playing.
"He was corralled. He was surrounded. It might not have been the best, most fit, youngest force we had out there to take him down. But he realized he was wrong and he knew when he started circling, the gentlemen were winded and they went to the next level. Once he tried to make a run for it and got Tasered in the back, he stopped."