A Tallahassee cop was caught on cell phone video tasering a 62-year-old woman in the back as she walked away from him –exactly what he had ordered her to do – causing her to fall face first onto the street as several shocked witnesses looked on.
The incident, which took place after 5 p.m. Tuesday, led to Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo calling a press conference at 3:15 a.m. this morning to announce the officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal affairs investigation.
A complete contrast to how the department’s former chief handled an incident last year caught on dash cam video showing cops slamming a woman’s face into a car before slamming her to the street, resulting in facial fractures and swollen eyes.
Chief Dennis Jones kept that incident under wraps for nearly a month before the woman’s attorney obtained the video, which quickly went viral, resulting in him announcing his retirement a few days later. Last month, the Tallahassee City Commission approved a $475,000 settlement for Christina West, pictured here after the incident.
DeLeo, who took the helms of the department in January, assured he would restore credibility by ensuring officers are trained to de-escalate situations rather than the usual escalation that is the norm these days.
But officer Terry Mahan apparently did not receive that training because the video shows he needlessly tased Viola Young in the back after she had approached the officers making three other arrests in the street.
According to the Tallahassee Democrat:
“Based on the video, I have enough concerns to call for an internal investigation and have Officer Mahan put on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation,” DeLeo said during the news conference, which was held about 3:15 a.m. at TPD headquarters. “We will conduct a thorough investigation into this incident. We want to be transparent with the community by sharing what we can at this point.”
DeLeo added that, “The investigation will determine if the officer’s actions were legal and if those actions were consistent with the expectations I have set for our officers in terms of how we respect and treat our citizens.”
Tallahassee defense attorney Chuck Hobbs asked State Attorney Willie Meggs to “strongly consider” filing charges against Tallahassee Police Officer Terry Mahan should he find that the tasing of 61-year-old Viola Young Tuesday was unjustified.
Hobbs wrote a letter to the state attorney this morning after seeing video of the tasing incident that he is “absolutely appalled” at the tape, which shows Young being tased by Mahan on Dunn Strett Tuesday evening.
“I am asking you to strongly consider filing charges directly if you and your top investigators conclude that this incident was unjustified and there is probable cause and reasonable likelihood of a successful prosecution under one or more Florida laws,” he said.
Hobbs cited five cases where citizens were injuried or killed in which Leon County grand juries found officers were justified in their use of force.
“Officer Mahan ran afoul of the Tallahassee Police Department guidelines with respect,” he wrote. “What this tape shows in real time is that the suspects had already been apprehended and placed into police cruisers, and most crucially, after the verbal command was given to Young.”
Young was charged with resisting arrest without violence, the usual contempt-of-cop charge in Florida when no law is actually broken.
The incident stemmed from cops arresting a group of men for walking down the street.
Several people were walking in the street but moved out of the way when another officer drove past them. They walked back into the street behind behind the officer, who then pulled over and approached them. Police reports say the people were blocking traffic.
The officer, according to court documents, got out of his car and approached Quontarrious Jones, 23, and ordered him to stop walking multiple times. Jones was arrested on a charge of resisting without violence.
While Jones was being arrested, Laguna Young, 41, and Quaneshia Rivers, 20, both started yelling at the officers. They, too, were arrested for resisting without violence. Young also was arrested on a charge of probation violation.
Shortly after the arrests, Viola Young approached officers and started yelling at them as they commanded a crowd to stay back from the area. Mahan told her to stay back.
“I just want to know what is going on,” she shouted at officers.
Mahan told her she was under arrest, but Young moved away from him. As she was walking away, Mahan pulled out his taser and fired it into her back. Young appeared on the video to fall face-first into the pavement as neighbors watched. She rolled over onto her back while moving her arms. Police handcuffed her and put her in the back of a squad car.
Mahan, in a probable-cause affidavit, explained what led to the use of force on Young.
“Viola Young caused me to take my focus off of one of the arrestees and engage her,” Mahan wrote. “Young’s actions obstructed officers while in the course of completing their legal duties.”
The incident begins after the 2:00 mark in the video. Below is the video involving Christina West, the woman who received the settlement last month. That incident begins shortly after the 8:00 mark.