A Florida police officer is out of a job after the Zephyrhills Police Department reviewed an incident and determined he should not have used his Taser to subdue a suspect.
The city fired officer Tim Claussen on Sept. 30 after reviewing the officer’s report of the Sept. 9 incident as well as reviewing video of the incident (shown below) captured by a camera on the tip of the Taser, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
The investigation determined “the deployment of the Taser was unjustified,” city attorney Joseph Poblick said at a news conference on Oct. 2.
Claussen, 36, had shown up at 42-year-old Lester Brown’s door to investigate an alleged shoplifting incident that took place earlier in the day, police said.
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The video opens to a good deal of shouting between the officer and an unidentified woman. After the woman leaves the screen, Brown is seen standing inside his home, talking calmly to the officer. The officer tells him more than once to step outside, but Brown refuses, though he does have his hands up.
About 45 seconds into the video, the officer fires the Taser at Brown who falls backward into his home.
Claussen’s report indicates he deployed the Taser because Brown wasn’t following instructions.
“I continued to give Mr. Brown verbal commands to exit the residence as he stood just inside the front door, with negative results,” the report reads.
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“I pointed my Taser X26 at Mr. Brown, gave him several more verbal commands to exit the residence, with negative results, so I deployed my Taser probes which struck Mr. Brown in the abdomen,” Claussen wrote.
Brown was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of retail theft and taken to a nearby hospital before being booked into the Pasco County Jail.
Records indicate the theft charge was later dropped by the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office, according to the Times.
Brown spoke with WTSP News after Claussen’s firing was made public, and said he was relieved to hear the news.
“Just made me feel a little bit safer,” he said.
When asked if he felt he deserved the treatment he received he answered, “No, nobody does, not in their own home.”
Claussen was a 10-year veteran of the police force. He is white and Brown is black.
But Zephyrhills Police Capt. Derek Brewer said that the department didn’t see any evidence that the incident was racially motivated.
“We recognized that there was an issue and that's why we acted quickly,” Brewer said, according to the Times. “Given the circumstances of this incident, I feel like it was the right decision.
“ ... As a citizen, if you were Mr. Brown, would you have expected that type of response?”
Claussen reportedly declined to comment when asked by the Times. He referred questions to the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association, which did not return calls, according to the Times.