I'd love to know where Jackson Hole is...so I can avoid ever winding up there.
By Gil Brady with additional reporting by Dan Haworth
Fun turned to stunned just after sundown Sunday when a streaker was "tasered" by cops at the 2005 Demolition Derby.
About 3,400 on-lookers Ė including families and children Ė got more than the usual clouds of rodeo dirt and souped-up hot rods ramming into one another when, moments before the winner-takes-all round, a naked man leapt from the stands holding a red fire extinguisher and raced around the rodeo pit, eluding police while attempting to spray fans in the grandstand.
Spectators cheered the nudist as two Jackson Hole police and a sheriffís deputy gave hot pursuit on foot. They finally took the man down when the deputy fired a taser dart into the streakerís right shoulder blade.
The tasering provoked catcalls and boos as the nudist quivered and shook before falling and writhing facedown in the dirt for several seconds. As the arresting peace officers lifted and cuffed the naked manís hands behind his back, urine trickled down the streakerís front.
This prompted many in the stands to shout the strongest insults at police.
Upon recovering, the exhibitionist acknowledged the crowd with a half-dazed nod before shaking his curly hair defiantly while being escorted off in the buff.
Not to be upstaged by the bare truth below, the derby announcer peered out the sky booth, smiled into his mike, and quipped, "Must be a chilly evening."
An informal poll of eyewitness reactions following the incident found near unanimous disapproval at the tactics of law enforcement responding to the scene, from shock and dismay to genuine outrage.
At a party immediately following the derby, an outraged Kevin McBride asked, "How many Jackson Hole cops does it take to catch a naked man in a rodeo arena? I was furious, because it wasnít that big a deal. Did they have to taser him in front of 5,000 people and kids?"
"He was shaking, like this," said a bearded man in his 20s who witnessed the tasering, shimmying his shoulders and rolling his eyes for inquisitive friends several hours later at 43 North.
Others, viewing streakers at the Demolition Derby as an expected annual event in itself, questioned what motivated police to act with such force. Some wondered if this year a new moral high bar had been set.
"It shouldnít be a PG-13 [event]," said Ryan Haworth. "The derby is for adults. However, they made it clear, if you streak you will be punished."
Dave Peters, 23, sitting nearby, said, "It was necessary to make the example, but the taser was excessive."
Georgia Ligori called the actions of the police "excessive" and the use of the taser, "unwarranted."
Ligori continued, "Itís just kids having fun. It was anticipated, it happens nearly every year."
Her friend Kelly Egan told the Planet, "I think for someone who was in no position to use any kind of aggression, it was inappropriate to use a weapon that has in the recent past been lethal. I was overwhelmed by the level of stupidity!"
Eganís husband, Bruce, 52, a retired economist, said, "If you have kids why bring them to a demo-demolish? Pig-wrestling maybe, but demo derby never."
Egan continued, "Tasing the streaker was bull****. Who is the guy hurting? In years past, everyone cheered the streaker. This year, they taser a guy. What happened? Young kids will do what they want to do. They donít have much money, so their 15 minutes of fame is to streak. Iíve seen streakers in my day. Iíve been to Yankee Stadium and World Cup soccer matches, but this is the first streaker Iíve ever seen tasered ... it was police brutality and excessive force."
At a post-derby house party featuring loud music and flowing kegs that attracted the attention of police cruisers, Leah Smith shook her head wistfully while reflecting on what she had saw, "He was a true American. Tasering him was pretty lame. The streaker was the essence of the derby."
Her male companion sipped his beer and nodded in full agreement.