McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

August 18, 2012

Reports : Officer fired Taser in 10 of 16 total MPD uses.

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — A McAlester Police officer filmed tazing a handcuffed woman at point-blank range has deployed his Tazer several more times compared to his fellow officers, according to reports released by the MPD.

On Friday McAlester Chief of Police Jim Lyles said Officer Sterling Taylor is still on active duty but he is restricted from using the Tazer.
“Officer Taylor is still suspended from use of the Tazer,” Lyles said.
In a June 24, police video Taylor can be seen firing a Taser at point blank range at Nakina Williams, 28, of Okmulgee.
In the video, Williams, with her with her hands cuffed and lifted behind her on a counter appears to spit at officer Taylor who  fires his Tazer, striking her in left breast at point blank range.
According to reports received from MPD, officer Taylor deployed his Tazer in 10 of the 16 “Use of Force” reports. The other six involved three different officers.
A Use of Force Report must be issued after each deployment of the Tazer, according to MPD Tazer Handling and Deployment Policy.
 Taylor has also been the victim in several more assault cases then his fellow officers. According to court records he’s been the victim in 14 cases of assault and battery since November 1, 2000 while 69 of his fellow officers were the victim in assault and battery cases on a police officer an average of 1.4 times during the reported time frame. (98 cases/69 officers). 
 That’s 10 times more than the average Pittsburg County law enforcement officer.
Meanwhile in the June 24th Use of Force Report written after Taylor deployed his Taser on Williams, he stated that his use of the Tazer was necessary and within policy.
 “Force was necessary and was within policy,” according to the report. 
“Subject had spit on officer and was fixing to spit on officer again, force was used to stop action.” 
However, according to the MPD Taser policy, “The Taser should only be used to control a dangerous or violent subject and ...  is not intended to replace verbal problem solving skills, self-defense techniques or firearms.”
 “The Taser shall only be deployed ... when attempts to subdue the subject by other conventional methods (are ineffective) or there is a reasonable expectation that it will be unsafe for officers to approach within contact range of the subject,” according to the policy
Williams attorney Jeremy Beaver said Williams did not pose a danger to the officers.
“Shooting Ms. Williams with his Taser did not make officer Taylor nor any other of the five officers any safer, as they were never in any danger,” Beaver said.
 “Using the Taser on Williams was not a justified act of self defense or defense of anyone else.”
 Beaver also said charges should have been filed against the officer.
Friday MPD Chief Jim Lyles said he the outcome of the investigation into the case by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the District 18 District Attorney’s office is expected to  soon. “I expect a conclusion in the next week, Lyles said. “We are waiting on the OSBI and the DA.”
Williams was  sentenced to a 10 years suspended sentence for felony assault and battery on a police officer, public intoxication and expectorating on a police officer. 
Her attorney said an announcement of a possible lawsuit will be made depending on the outcome of the different agencies investigating the case.
For more on this story, see the print or electronic editions of the McAlester News-Capital. Click here for print edition home delivery or click here to see the Smart Edition for your computer, tablet, e-reader or smartphone. Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.