The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
City says officer violated Taser policy
An internal investigation has determined that a Fredericksburg police officer violated policy when he used a Taser on a suspect for about 40 seconds last month.
City police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe wrote that the city police Office of Professional Standards concluded that Officer Joe Young “violated the department’s policy on the use of force and was not consistent with the training protocols in place .”
She said the officer has been disciplined, but would not say what action the department took with the officer. Young, a 10-year veteran who has been cited in the past for valor, is still with the department.
The incident occurred about 7:20 p.m. on Nov. 9 near the corner of Hanover and Caroline streets in downtown Fredericksburg. A gray, four-door Buick had struck and damaged five vehicles parked in the 200 block of Hanover.
The driver had run away by the time officers arrived, but Lantz Day, a passenger in car, was still in the area. Day was the owner of the car.
A video taken by a witness showed Day lying on the sidewalk with a small crowd around him. A police officer appeared to be talking to him when the suspect got up and ran.
He got only a few feet before falling down again after being shot by a Taser. The sound of the stun gun went on for about 42 seconds as the suspect yelled for the officer to stop.
Police said Day had threatened other people and told them not to call police prior to their arrival, but no one else was injured.
Day, 36, of Locust Grove was charged with resisting arrest and the case is still pending.
The statement released by Bledsoe states that all patrol officers have been retrained in using the Taser. She said about half of the department’s Tasers have been retrofitted with a control device that will not allow them to be deployed for more than five seconds.
The Tasers that cannot be altered will be replaced by new ones with the five-second timer control already in place.
Bledsoe wrote that city police have used force 21 times this year, including six times with Tasers. She said officers must file reports any time force is used, and this was the only time the force was deemed to be outside department guidelines.
Force includes the use of pepper spray, a baton, a gun or “hands on,” according to the statement.
An updated city police policy regarding the use of force went into effect following the Day incident. The only change to the policy is a section referring to the five-second Taser cycle.
Young has received a number of awards in his career, many of them associated with his actions following the shooting death of fellow Officer Todd Bahr in 2008. Young was credited with saving other targets of the killer that night.
Young was named the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month in June of this year.
He was the city department’s Officer of the Year in 2008 and was nominated for an America’s Most Wanted hero award.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404