McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 18, 2012

Former reserve deputy says officer charged for tazing handcuffed woman getting a bad deal

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — A former Pittsburg County reserve deputy says a McAlester police officer charged with a felony after tazing a handcuffed woman isn’t being treated fairly by the judicial system.

In October, McAlester Police Officer Sterling Lee Taylor-Santino pleaded not guilty to one count of felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He was released on his own recognizance pending a Dec. 14 hearing. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in the state penitentiary, according to court documents.
McAlester resident Cheryl Kelley a former reserve deputy for Pittsburg County Sheriffs department said she’s known Taylor several years and the felony charge against the officer is not fair.
“He is one of the best officers I know,” Kelley said.
She wants McAlester residents to support officer Taylor.
“McAlester residents should stand up for Officer Sterling Taylor and stand up for all law enforcement officers so they wont hesitate to stand up for you for fear of being punished like Officer Sterling Taylor.”
On a June 24 police video that can be seen at www.mcalesternews.com, Nakina Williams, 28, is seen on the video with her hands cuffed and lifted behind her on a counter at the Pittsburg County jail. She appears to spit at Taylor-Santino who then fires a Taser, striking Williams in the left breast.
Williams was given a 10-year suspended sentence for felony assault and battery on a police officer, public intoxication and expectorating on a police officer. 
Williams was given a 10-year suspended sentence for felony assault and battery on a police officer, and for public intoxication and expectorating on a police officer. She said she has scars on her hands from the handcuffs and on her chest from the probes being pulled out by another police officer while she was still in the booking area of the jail.
According to MPD’s Taser handling policy, “The suspect shall be taken to an emergency care facility for removal of the dart in cases where it has ... penetrated the female breast ...”
Taylor has been assigned to desk duty until the conclusion of the proceedings, according to Mcalester Chief of Police Jim Lyles.
Taylor-Santino was charged after the case was handed to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation by the office of District 17 District Attorney Mark Matloff.
According to an affidavit by OSBI Special Agent Adams S. Whitney, Taylor-Santino “without justifiable or excusable cause, assault and batter one Nakina Williams with a Taser with intent to do Nakina Williams bodily harm, contrary to the form of the statutes made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the State of Oklahoma.”
McAlester attorney Jeremy Beaver said after the charges were filed that “all we have ever asked is that Officer Taylor be treated the same as any other person. That appears to be happening.”
He said “while we cautiously optimistic about the future of this case, we also know that this is just the first step towards bringing Officer Taylor to justice.”
Meanwhile Kelley said the judicial system has not been fair to Officer Taylor.
“This needs to be looked at,” Kelley said. “His whole life has been turned upside down because of this.
She said Taylor is being ridiculed and condemned.
“Are we protecting criminals now?” she said.
The case was originally investigated by MPD before being turned over to the District 18 District Attorney’s office. The local prosecutor, District 18 Attorney Farley Ward, requested a recusal from the case in September because the DA’s office handles cases involving the MPD and Taylor-Santino, according to former First Assistant District 18 Attorney Richard Hull.
Taylor-Santino has declined to comment.
Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.