Report: Teen wanted dad's OK

Updated: May 4, 2010, 11:49 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Before 17-year-old Steve Consalvi ran onto the field at Citizen's Bank Park on Monday, where he was Tasered by a police officer, the teen reportedly called his father for permission to do so.

"He said, 'Dad, can I run on the field?' I said, 'I don't think you should, son,'" Wayne Consalvi told the Philadelphia Inquirer of the conversation he had with his son.

"This would be a once in a lifetime experience!" Steve Consalvi replied to his father, according to the newspaper.

Wayne Consalvi told the newspaper that his son was not drinking and he wasn't on drugs. Steve Consalvi is "a real good student, heading to Penn State," his father told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The father also told the newspaper that his son didn't run onto the field as a result of a dare or bet, either.

"I don't recommend running on the field, but I don't think they should have Tased him at all," he told the newspaper.

Steve Consalvi's mother, Amy Ziegler, apologized for his actions and said he regrets running onto the field.

"It was stupid. It was just absolutely stupid," she told WTXF-TV.

The Phillies and Philadelphia police are investigating whether a police officer's use of a Taser to apprehend Steve Consalvi was an appropriate use of force.

Lt. Frank Vanore, a police spokesman, says Commissioner Charles Ramsey reviewed the tape and felt the officer had acted within the department's guidelines, which allow officers to use Tasers to arrest fleeing suspects. Vanore says internal affairs is still investigating.

Ramsey told KYW Radio in Philadelphia that he supported the officer's decision to use a Taser.

"It was inappropriate for him to be out there on the field," Ramsey said. "Unless I read something to the contrary, that officer acted appropriately. I support him 100 percent."

The department is reviewing whether its officers should be on the field wrangling fans who aren't threatening anyone, Vanore said.

"Should we be on the field at all? I think that's what's being looked at," Vanore said. "I'm not sure we should be chasing people around the field."

Vanore said it was the first time he knew of that a Philadelphia officer had used a Taser on a fan on the field. There have been instances in other cities of police using stun guns on unruly fans in the stands, including last year at an A's game in Oakland, Calif.

Another fan ran onto the field at Citizens Bank Park during Tuesday night's Phillies game and gave himself up without incident in center field. The 34-year-old man was booed by the sellout crowd and charged with defiant trespass, disorderly conduct and narcotics possession.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell called the incident "a big mistake."

"There's no need to use Tasers on fans who run on the field," the former Philadelphia mayor told WCAU-TV. "We should just have enough personnel out there to surround them, take them off the field and put them in jail."

Pat Courtney, a spokesman for Major League Baseball, said security issues are dealt with at the team level. He said he knew the Phillies were talking with police about the encounter and that MLB was monitoring the situation, but he declined further comment.

Mary Catherine Roper, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in Philadelphia, said she didn't understand why the officer had to use a Taser.

"How long can he really run around out there?" Roper said of the fan. "In this situation, he's not dangerous, he's not getting away."

An expert on police accountability said he couldn't comment specifically on the Philadelphia case but said the general rule is that officers should use Tasers only on people who are posing a threat of "imminent harm."

Merrick Bobb, executive director of a Los Angeles-based nonprofit police oversight group called the Police Assessment Resource Center, said mild resistance usually doesn't justify the use of a Taser.

"Usually the resistance has to threaten some harm to the officer in order to justify the use of a Taser," Bobb said.

Players didn't think the officer's action was excessive.

"If you're on the streets running away from a cop, doesn't that cop have a right to Tase you because you're fleeing from a cop? So what's the difference," Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino said.

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa agreed the use of a Taser was appropriate.

"If somebody comes up there and does some damage, they're going to be second-guessing not doing anything," La Russa said. "I just think it's acceptable, because it's a good deterrent."

Consalvi, wearing a baseball cap, red T-shirt and khaki shorts, hopped a fence and scurried around the outfield, eluding two security officers in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Cardinals. One officer used a Taser and the fan went down in a heap. Several Phillies placed gloves over their faces and appeared to be stifling laughter at the wild scene.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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