Cop Watch

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Taser gun use questioned in Street fight

A defendant and a witness are questioning the use of taser guns that police say were used to help contain a March 5 fight on Water Street.

According to the criminal complaint, Milwaukee Area Technical College student Shawn Uecker and UW-La Crosse student Jess Walther were arrested March 5 on charges of battery of a police officer, obstructing an officer and disorderly conduct.

According to the criminal complaint, Walther acted disorderly when he left The Brat Kabin, 314 Water St., as two plainclothes officers, Bill Slaggie and James Southworth, approached him.

Uecker approached the officers while they were talking to Walther and repeatedly tried to put his arm around Slaggie. The officers warned the men and let them go, according to the complaint.

After walking away, the complaint said that the group returned and Uecker again tried putting his arm around Slaggie, who along with Southworth, forced him to the ground.

One of Uecker's friends charged the officers and pushed Southworth off of Uecker, and Uecker then took several swings with a closed fist at Slaggie's head, according to the complaint.

The fight spilled over into the middle of Water Street with both officers wrestling Uecker and Walther. Slaggie and Southworth applied their taser guns several times in an effort to stop the pair from resisting, according to the complaint.

A taser gun sends an electric shock to the individual, said Deputy Chief Brad Venaas.

"It's a way of using the electric energy to cause a dysfunction in the nervous system which stops someone from resisting," he said.

Walther said he was in town visiting friends and was halfway down the street when he saw Uecker wrestling with the officers. Walther was only trying to break up the fight, he said.

"I might have bumped into him, but I did not cause any bodily damage," Walther said. "For me, all I can say is I'm basically innocent."

Sophomore Bryan Feucht witnessed the brawl and said that another friend, Jacob Grotelueschen, was also trying to break up the fight and was tasered.