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A teen cutting through the bushes to visit his girlfriend ended up shocked by a trooper’s Taser

Jack Rodeman was going to his girlfriend's house in Ft. Myers, Fla., when he was stopped and tased by Florida Highway Patrol trooper George Smyrnios on June 16. (Video: Kristina Rodeman)

A Florida state trooper repeatedly shocked a teen with a Taser in an incident the boy’s mother called cruel and unjustified.

On June 16, Jack Rodeman, 16, cut through bushes in his Fort Myers neighborhood to his girlfriend’s backyard, something the teens do often to see each other, his mother, Kristina Rodeman, told The Washington Post in an interview.

Florida Highway Patrol trooper George Smyrnios saw the teen dip into the bushes that day and followed him because he looked suspicious, according to arrest reports reviewed by WINK News.

After being stunned with the Taser, the teen was arrested and faces charges of loitering, marijuana possession and a criminal traffic citation for disobeying an officer.

The trooper’s actions, which were captured on video, come at a time of intense focus on police practices and interactions with communities of color. Kristina Rodeman, who is White, said her biracial son was racially profiled.

“Even if he wasn’t, the trooper’s actions were egregious, unjustified and cruel, and just absolutely outrageous,” Rodeman’s attorney, Derek Tyler, said, adding that “what he did was torture a child with no justification.”

An administrative review of the incident is ongoing, according to Aaron Keller, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

It is unclear whether Smyrnios has retained legal representation.

Video obtained by The Post begins with Jack Rodeman explaining to Smyrnios that his girlfriend lives at the residence and was going to come outside.

Smyrnios, with his Taser aimed, tells Rodeman that he didn’t follow instructions and then orders the teen to turn around.

Rodeman continues to use his phone, telling the trooper that he needs to call his girlfriend, when the trooper commands the 16-year-old to put his hands behind his back.

“I didn’t do nothing,” Rodeman says, while looking down at his phone.

Within seconds, Smyrnios uses the Taser on Rodeman, who falls and hits a brick fire pit.

As the teen writhes in agony on the ground, Smyrnios inches closer to him and instructs him to put his hands behind his back.

“I’m going to do it again,” Smyrnios says, and then releases another jolt.

Rodeman is handcuffed on the ground when his girlfriend comes out of her home and asks the officer what he is doing, saying her boyfriend is allowed in the backyard.

“For some reason, you think you can do exactly what you want to do, and you can’t,” Smyrnios says to Rodeman, with his girlfriend standing by and holding her face.

Smyrnios wrote in two arrest reports on the incident that the teen looked suspicious when Rodeman headed into the bushes and that he had personal knowledge of burglaries happening in the neighborhood.

In an amended arrest report, Smyrnios wrote that he couldn’t see Rodeman’s hands and that he was concerned that the teen had a gun, WINK News reported.

Kristina Rodeman said she was shocked when she saw the surveillance video, saying state troopers told her a different story.

“I didn’t know my son fell down, let alone hit bricks,” she said.

Kristina Rodeman said her son still has head and neck pain, although X-rays didn’t show injury to his spine.

The single mother of Jack and a 12-year-old daughter said she has had conversations with her son about how to interact with police but that he still gets “mouthy” with officials.

Because of previous run-ins, Jack is required to be detained for up to 21 days for the encounter, according to Tyler.

“I’m just a single mom with two kids,” Kristina Rodeman said, referring to the legal fights ahead. “I’ve never been through nothing like this. Kids need to just listen even if they’re not doing anything.”

Tyler said he intends to fight all charges.

“I just want him home,” Rodeman said.

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