Cop Watch

Friday, March 04, 2005

Video Shows Suspect Being Shocked by Taser

TOLEDO -- New video released by the Lucas County Sheriff's Department shows a suspect being shocked with a Taser during his booking. Jeffrey Turner died in January after he was shocked nine times over a 3-hour period.

The video shows the 41-year-old Turner being unruly at the Lucas County Jail's booking desk. "They handcuffed me like this," Turner is heard saying. "They tasered me and shocked me. I didn't do none of that. Oh, God, I don't know why this is happening. It's not fair."

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound man reportedly screamed while pounding on the walls of a holding cell. The tape also shows paramedics removing turner from the jail on a stretcher. Turner later died at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in central Toledo. Lucas County's coroner still has not ruled on the cause of Turner's death.

"I don't regret seeing it. It's a very touching moment. I'm seeing my brother for the last time. I'll never see him again alive." Jeffrey Turner's brother Shawn watched the surveillance tape last night at the News 11 studios. "He says they took my wallet, they took my money, I didn't do nothing wrong. You see officers laughing in the background like it's a big joke," said Shawn.

Shawn Turner believes what his brother went through at the Lucas County Jail happens often. "They killed him down there. He was crying and pleading for his life and they killed him down there. How can they keep Tasering him like that and not care?"

Shawn couldn't watch the tape anymore after hearing his brother screaming in the background. He says the family wants justice for Jeffrey's death. They think a house-cleaning at the Lucas County Jail will be the only way to prevent deaths in the future.

Jail administrators had no comment on the tape.

Shortly after that incident, Lucas County Sheriff Jim Telb ordered the jail to stop using Tasers, and changed the procedure on how to handle prisoners who have been shocked by police. The policy has been in effect for two weeks now, and the jail's administrator says since then, police have only brought one person to the lockup who had been shocked.

According to that new sheriff's policy, a booking deputy at the jail now must "...make a specific inquiry as to whether the prisoner has been restrained through the use of any type of electronic restraint device..." If so, "...the accompanying officer will transport the prisoner to a medical facility for examination."

Jail Administrator Richard Keller say he's not sure how many people who were shocked were booked into the jail before the new policy, but says there's only been one case since. "We did not have an effective policy before then, I would say one in a couple of weeks, I mean it's not very many obviously, but I have nothing to compare that to," Keller said.

For now, 4 Tasers at the jail will remain out of the hands of command officers who used to carry them. "I think in general our staff thought it was a valuable tool. Whether their safety is actually jeopardized because we're not using them, that would be debatable. As I say, prior to one year ago, we never used them at all," said Keller. He says he's looking at getting other safety equipment for officers like shields.

Also on Thursday, Larry Sykes from the Toledo School Coard said "the policy committee" will recommend to the school board that officers not be allowed to use Tasers in schools. Sykes says he is not aware of any incidents in schools.

A News 11 investigation showed police officers used their Tasers more than 300 times since the department handed them out in 2003.