The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Fredericksburg Police launch internal investigation after apparent Taser incident
By KEITH EPPS
Fredericksburg police are conducting an internal investigation into a Saturday night incident in which a suspect appeared to be tasered for more than 40 consecutive seconds.
The incident occurred about 7:20 p.m. near the corner of Hanover and Caroline streets in downtown Fredericksburg, police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said.
Several people had called 911 after a gray, four-door Buick struck and damaged five vehicles that were parked in the 200 block of Hanover.
The Buick driver had run from the scene when police arrived, but bystanders had attempted to detain the passenger, who was still in the area when the first officer arrived. The passenger is also the Buick owner, police said.
Police said the man was belligerent and threatened to hurt those who called police, but no one was injured.
A video taken by someone at the scene and later posted on news and social media websites begins with a man—the Buick’s passenger—lying on a sidewalk surrounded by a small crowd.
A police officer was apparently trying to question him when the man got up and bolted.
He got only a few feet before dropping to the ground again after an officer apparently used a Taser on him. The sound of the Taser continues for about 42 seconds as the face-down man shrieks in pain and yells out, “Stop it! Stop!”
That man, Lantz Day, 36, of Locust Grove, was charged with misdemeanor obstruction of justice. He was placed in the Rappahannock Regional Jail under a $3,500 bond.
The driver of the Buick had not been identified as of Tuesday. He was described only as a light-skinned black male wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt.
Bledsoe would not comment when asked if the Taser was properly deployed, saying the investigation is ongoing. However, she supplied a copy of the city department’s use of force policy when it was requested.
Under the directive, officers are authorized to use less lethal force to:
Defend themselves or others from assaults and other threats.
Arrest, detain, subdue, control, and/or restrain a noncompliant (active resistance or active aggression) suspect.
Prevent the escape of a suspect.
Bring an unlawful or dangerous situation safely and effectively under control.
The policy states: “As with the use of deadly force, officers contemplating the use of non-deadly force shall apply a standard of objective reasonableness, basing any decision to use force on the totality of the circumstances known to them at the time. . . . Officers need not select the least amount of force that can be used, but must select a level of force that is reasonable for the given circumstances.”
“This video certainly appears to capture the events on the night in question,” Bledsoe said, noting that the investigation is continuing. “It’s [about] 2 minutes in time for an incident that was obviously much longer than that. So it captures a portion of that incident.”