Two Florida civil rights groups, including Black Lives Matter, are calling for an independent investigation after a female Polk County Sheriff’s deputy used a Taser on a 15-year-old male during a domestic disturbance at a Davenport motel,
What are the details?
The deputy was trying to get the teen under control after detectives said he beat, shoved, and bit his 7-months-pregnant girlfriend, the sheriff’s office told WTVT, adding that investigators said the pair was arguing over a cell phone during the July 8 incident. WTVT added in its video broadcast that the girlfriend is 19.
After getting hit with the Taser, investigators said the male teen continued to resist arrest, the station said.
Outspoken Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said during a Wednesday news conference that when Sgt. Shanon Gaylord arrived at the chaotic scene, the male teen was uncooperative when she tried to put him in handcuffs, WTVT reported. Judd added that when the 15-year-old male threatened three times to punch his deputy — and that he’s bigger than her — the deputy used her Taser, the station added.
Image source: WTVT-TV video screenshot
In fact, Judd said his sergeant used great restraint during the incident, and he would have tased the 15-year-old long before she did, WTVT said.
However, the Poor & Minority Justice Association and Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk accused the sheriff’s office of excessive force and unjust charges in the incident, the station said, and said the the teen was suffering a mental breakdown stemming from a developmental disability.
What’s more, the groups argued that cellphone video recorded by the teen’s mother proves he wasn’t a threat at the time he was tased, WTVT noted.
“Actions taken by Sgt. Gaylord [were] unjustified and unlawful,” the organizers said in a joint news release, the station reported, adding that that groups also claim the pregnant girlfriend denied allegations in the arrest affidavit.
What does the arrest affidavit say?
Here’s the arrest affidavit in part via WTVT; the teen suspect’s name has been removed:
On 07/08/22 the suspect and victim were in an argument over a cell phone. The suspect took the phone from the victim and threw it to the ground, breaking it. The suspect then pushed the victim with his hands an undetermined number of times. The suspect then pushed the victim up against the wall with this hand (unknown right or left) by the victim’s neck. The victim stated she was able to free herself and the suspect’s actions did not impede her normal flow of breathing.
The suspect slapped the victim an undetermined number of times in the face and chest. The suspect bit the victim in the upper right back just below the shoulder blade leaving a bite mark. The suspect grabbed the victim by her hair and pushed her against a wall. The victim is seven (7) months pregnant. The suspect admitted to having prior knowledge of this.
PCSO Sgt. Gaylord #7195S arrived on scene first and observed the suspect holding the victim by her hair and the victim appeared to be trying to get the suspect off of her. (It should be noted Sgt. Gaylord was wearing her agency-issued class B uniform along with agency-issued equipment while displaying (2) two agency patches on her right and left shoulder as well as her agency-issued five-point star on the upper left side of her chest which reads “Sergeant Polk County Sheriff’s Office”). Sgt. Gaylord identified herself as “Sheriff’s Office” while exiting her vehicle and gave the suspect multiple commands to release the victim and to “separate.”
Due to the suspect not complying with the lawful commands given, Sgt. Gaylord then pushed the suspect on his back separating the two allowing her to get in between both parties. The suspect continued to ignore lawful commands given by Sgt. Gaylord to which she then drew her agency Taser and armed it.
At this time the suspect began to yell “Tase me, f—– Tase me.” Sgt. Gaylord continued to give the suspect lawful commands to get on the ground. The suspect continued to defy lawful orders and turned his back away from Sgt. Gaylord, to which she then grabbed the suspect’s left arm with her left hand while holding her Taser in her right hand.
The suspect then grabbed Sgt. Gaylord’s left hand with his right hand and attempt to remove her grip. Sgt. Gaylord then gave the suspect lawful command to “not touch her” to which the suspect replied, “don’t f—— touch me then.” Sgt. Gaylord attempted to place the suspect’s left hand behind his back to which the suspect then tensed up his left arm.
Sgt. Gaylord was able to maneuver the suspect up against the window and was able to pull his left hand behind his back. Sgt. Gaylord gave the suspect multiple commands for him to place his other hand behind his back to which he replied “I ain’t doing s—.”
The suspect was able to get his body off of the window while Sgt. Gaylord had his left wrist behind his back. The suspect then stated to Sgt. Gaylord, “I’m going to swing on her” and then stated to her on a more aggressive voice for second time, “I’m going to f—— swing on her.”
Due to the suspect being larger than Sgt. Gaylord, the suspect’s actions and attitudes, the suspect actively resisting, and the suspect threatening to do bodily harm against Sgt. Gaylord, this placed Sgt. Gaylord in fear and cause[d] her to believe that danger was imminent.
Therefore, Sgt. Gaylord disengaged her grip from the suspect’s wrist and deployed her agency Taser which made a positive connection in the suspect’s mid to lower back effectively incapacitating him for approximately (5) five seconds, the desired effect was achieved, and the suspect fell to the ground. Upon additional units arriving on scene, the suspect’s hands were placed behind his back.
The station added that according to the affidavit, the teen stated to Sgt. Gaylord after being placed in handcuffs, “Take these cuffs off, so I can beat this b—-‘s a–.”
WTVT said the teen faces charges of battery on a pregnant individual, assault on a law enforcement officer, battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting without violence, and resisting with violence. The station added that he has no prior convictions for battery or assault.
Here’s a longer video of the encounter:
(H/T: The Police Tribune)