Lashonn White is a deaf woman who called 911 after being attacked in her apartment. Instead of helping her, Tacoma police tasered her and put her in jail for 60 hours without an interpreter.
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Two police officers were dispatched who had been told that she is deaf. She ran outside to meet them, and immediately, Officer Koskovich tasered her in her rib and stomach. Because of the fall, she suffered heavy bleeding from her knuckles, injuries to her cheek, chin, ribs, neck, and arms, and swelling on the right side of her face. Then they handcuffed her.
White was incredibly confused as to why she was under arrest, and couldn’t talk to the officers because they don’t know sign language. Koskovich said that he had yelled for White to stop, but she had ignored him — in reality, she couldn’t hear him.
An Ohio police officer whose decision to Taser a pregnant woman last month in the lobby of a police station triggered FBI and internal probes is out of a job before those investigations are even complete.
Michael Wilmer, a 29-year-old probationary officer with the Trotwood Police Department, was fired from the department for posting photos of evidence from police investigations on the Internet, according to Michael Etter, the town’s head of public safety.
During the investigation into the Taser incident, officials discovered “items that are not consistent” with the standards of the local police department. Specifically, Wilmer had posted photos on his personal page on the social networking site MySpace that showed behavior the department considered unbecoming of an officer.
“He had a picture of evidence that was seized in a drug bust that involved some marijuana and some money,” Etter told ABC News. “There was a picture of a cruiser’s speedometer going 100 mph.”
Etter said MySpace and Facebook accounts will now be a part of background checks during the department’s hiring process. “The whole police profession is based on public trust,” Etter said. “You can’t have integrity in your investigation if you’re posting photos of the evidence on the Internet.”
Wilmer could not be reached by ABC News for comment. There is no number in public directories listed for anyone of that name and age in Ohio.
Investigators have not concluded the Taser probe, Etter said, because all of the parties have not been interviewed yet. The department hopes to complete that review by the end of the year.
After the Taser incident, Etter’s department faced outside pressure that sparked the look into Wilmer’s conduct. Richard Jones, president of the Ohio chapter of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, called in a complaint to Etter about the Taser incident, which occurred Nov. 18 and was caught on surveillance tape.
The footage shows a woman identified in a police incident report as Valreca Redden, 33, in the lobby of the suburban Dayton police station with her 1-year-old son.
Redden had come to the police station to ask police to take custody of the child. When Wilmer asked why, the woman reportedly would only say that “she’s tired of playing games” with the baby’s father.
“At this point, they had a little more discussion that went nowhere,” Etter told ABC News at the time. “She says, ‘I’m leaving.'”
Etter, who repeatedly emphasized that Wilmer had no idea that Redden was pregnant, said his former officer told Redden that she could not leave the station without further explanation. He took hold of the child with one arm, Etter said, and pushed the woman down with the other.
A second officer arrived and Wilmer handed over the 1-year-old and attempted to handcuff Redden. She began to resist, Etter said, at which point Wilmer “employed what is called a ‘drive stun'” on the back of her neck.
According to a copy of Trotwood Police Department General Orders, police officers are encouraged to “greatly evaluate each situation with discretion” before using a Taser on a child, elderly person or pregnant woman.
Redden was charged with obstructing official business and resisting arrest. It was not until the woman, wearing a heavy coat, was being checked out by jail staff that officers learned she was pregnant, Etter said. At that point, she was transported directly to the hospital.
Etter at the time defended Wilmer’s decision to detain the woman and kept the officer on duty. Etter defended that decision today and said that he fired Wilmer solely because of behavior that does not meet his department’s standards, not related to the Redden Tasering incident.
“This decision was based on facts,” Etter wrote in a media release about the firing, “not on speculation or outside pressure.”
Jones, from Sharpton’s National Action Network, said that his organization was relieved that Wilmer was terminated, but disputed Etter’s claim that outside pressure did not play a role in the decision. “The investigation was only started because we called them,” Jones said. “But the fact is, that [Wilmer] won’t be able to Tase anyone else.”
Jones is also waiting for Trotwood police to release another surveillance video that apparently shows two officers in May using pepper spray and Tasers to break up a brawl involving two high school girls on a school bus. The mother of one of the students contacted Jones after seeing the story about Wilmer’s Tasering of the pregnant woman and said one of the officers used racial slurs while confronting the teens.
“If the tape shows what we think it shows, there is a real problem in Trotwood,” Jones said, adding that he has been in contact with Sharpton about the Ohio town, which has a police force of about 45 officers.
In the police report about the school bus incident, Trotwood Officer Lester Howard, who discharged his pepper spray, said, “I was nervous and used some bad language, but it did bring the situation under control.”
School officials then filed a complaint after learning from students that racial slurs had been used. Etter, the Trotwood chief, said that police investigated and received mixed messages from student witnesses about exactly what Howard had said.
But there may be more to the story. “The minute we got the complaint and said you’re being investigated for this, he went on medical leave and then retired,” Etter said. “You can read between the lines on that one.”
The true tale may be in the tape.