TASING IN THE NEWS

We continue to follow TASER cases.  This one was easy – here in Cincinnati in August a police officer tased a city councilman’s daughter.  The facts are laid out below in an article from the Enquirer.  You can read about it here or down below.

The officer was fired recently, after his “arrest” was thrown out.  The same officer was sued as the result of a 2006 Taser incident – the city paid $65,000 when he tased a woman who had called police because she had locked herself out of her own apartment!

THE ENQUIRER ARTICLE

Officer fired for Tasing incident

For the second time in three years, police officer Anthony Plummer has been fired for excessive use of force while on the job.

The firing comes after top brass in the Cincinnati Police Department said Plummer, 32, was wrong when he took out his Taser and shocked a city councilman’s daughter as she was on her knees with her hands in the air after a traffic stop in August.

Celeste Thomas, the daughter of Cecil Thomas, a former city police officer, was struck by the barbs in the back.

The termination was affective Dec. 7, The Enquirer learned on Monday.

Celeste Thomas was a passenger in her own car which her friend Demetri Washington was driving when he struck a garbage truck early in the morning on Aug. 23 in Mount Auburn.

When Plummer arrived on the scene he was told to keep Thomas in the car. Instead he drew his gun and ordered her to lie on the ground. Thomas complied only partially and was on her knees with her hands in the air asking what she had done wrong when Plummer put his service revolver back in its holster and drew his Taser and deployed it.

Officers are permitted to use Tasers if the person being arrested is deemed a threat or if it is necessary to subdue the alleged offender. In this case, officials with the police department found that Thomas was none of the above.

Thomas was subsequently arrested for having an open container in the car and for obstructing justice. A judge found her not guilty of the obstruction charge and threw out the alleged alcohol violation recently. In October, Washington was found guilty of driving under the influence and resisting arrest.

Plummer, who earned $66,506 in 2008, had his police powers suspended by Chief Thomas Streicher following the August incident.

Plummer is appealing his termination, said Kathy Harrell, the president of the police union.

An arbitrator is required to hear the case.

If history repeats, that could be a windfall for Plummer and a thorn for Streicher who had previously fired Plummer only to have him reinstated 13 months later in 2007.

A 2008 analysis of cases involving police officers and emergency dispatch workers who have lost their jobs over the past decade showed that in 16 of the 18 cases, the officers and workers were hired back after their cases went to arbitration.

Plummer was fired in 2006 after shocking then 35-year-old Daphne Godfrey. Godfrey had called police for assistance after being locked out of her Westwood apartment in May 2006. The otherwise simple police call ended with Godfrey getting shocked by Plummer’s Taser. Plummer was subsequently fired by the chief and Godfrey sued Plummer. The city settled the case and she was awarded $65,000.

An arbitrator sided with Plummer and the city was forced to give the officer his job back

Plummer was also reprimanded in 2004 for pointing his service revolver at a juvenile as he ordered him to move from the street to the sidewalk. Five months later in 2004 he was reprimanded for using foul language with two senior citizens. He was also reprimanded for that.

Thomas’ attorney Carl Lewis said Monday he will be filing a civil suit in federal court by week’s end. Lewis did not want to disclose the amount he will be seeking in damages but had this to say about the 2006 case that ended with a $65,000 settlement:

“This (the 2006 case) is minor league.” He described his possible case as major league.

“She is really humiliated by this,” Lewis said of his client. “She feels like she embarrassed her family and humiliated her community.

“But the bottom line is she never should have been Tased, she never should have been arrested and she never should have been prosecuted.”

During a hearing with police supervisors and witnesses, Harrell, the president of the police union, argued that up until the incident involving Thomas, Plummer has not had any problems with excessive force since he was reinstated in 2007.

Police investigators weren’t sympathetic.

“Officer Plummer apparently does not handle conflict effectively,” wrote Capt. Paul Broxterman in a memo to the chief of police calling for Plummer’s dismissal.

“…Officer Plummer made a conscious decision to act outside of the scope of the Cincinnati Police Department policy, procedure and training when he deployed his Taser at Ms. Thomas. Officer Plummer is resistant to training. He does not apply what he learns in the classroom to real life situations in the field. How can the department put him back on the street with a Taser, baton and firearm when he refuses to acknowledge that his thought process related to using force is flawed? To do so is a huge liability risk to the department, the city and its citizenry.”

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