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Columbia police find officers' conduct 'proper' in Cafe Berlin incident

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — An internal investigation by the Columbia Police Department has found no wrongdoing by two officers who used pepper spray and a Taser on Columbia resident Carl Alan Giles, 27, during his Aug. 1 arrest outside the Cafe Berlin.

The investigation was conducted by the department’s Professional Standards Unit. Columbia police Public Information Officer Jessie Haden said the unit found officers Jared Fielding, who used pepper spray, and Ryan Brunstrom, who used the Taser, were “proper” in their use of force on Giles.

Giles was arrested that night in an alley south of Cafe Berlin at 21 N. Providence Road on suspicion of public urination and resisting arrest.

Giles’ attorney Dan Viets said the city has not filed charges against his client for the incident, and if they are filed, Giles will plead innocent.

But Viets declined to comment on the results of the investigation.

The city prosecutor can bring charges up to a year after a suspect’s arrest.

Haden said unit members attempted to contact 11 people who had either filed complaints with the department or witnessed the incident. Unit members then spoke with at least seven people, she said.

Of the people who filed complaints, she said, some were not at the scene and others did not leave contact information. She said one complaint came from someone who passed the scene of the incident and noticed police cars at the scene and complained because officers would not tell the person what had happened.

In a recording from Fielding’s dashboard camera, the officer and Giles can't be seen but they can be heard engaging in a brief argument. The recording was played for the public at a City Council work session on Aug. 17. The Police Department also provided a written transcript of the audio recording at that meeting.

Fielding said later he saw Giles in the alley and that he appeared to be urinating, an allegation Giles denied.

After Fielding obtained Giles’ identification card, he went to the patrol car to check for pending warrants. Fielding can be heard on the audio recording telling Giles multiple times to “stand back” from the patrol car.

The officer repeated the command eight times before telling Giles he was under arrest and starting to place him in handcuffs.

At this point, Giles began to fight with Fielding, police said in previous Missourian reports. Both Giles and police agree that he pulled his hand from the officer’s grasp. Fielding then used pepper spray on Giles and called for backup on his radio.

On a video recording from Brunstrom’s dashboard camera, Fielding can be seen standing over Giles, who had his knees on the ground, and Brunstrom can be seen stepping out of the car and shooting Giles with a Taser.

According to MissouriCase.net, Giles has never been charged with an offense in the state.

This incident was the latest of several high-profile cases of Taser use by area police departments that has aroused some public concern about police procedures for using the weapon.

According to previous Missourian reports, Phillip Lee McDuffy, 45, of Columbia fell 15 feet from the Providence Road bridge over Interstate 70 onto an embankment after police shot him with a Taser in July 2008. McDuffy was critically injured in the incident. In March of this year, the Columbia Police Department admitted improper Taser use in two cases from September and October 2008.

The city of Moberly made a $2.4 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit with the family of a man who died in August 2008 after being shot with a Taser by Moberly police. The city did not admit any fault in the settlement, and outside investigations found no criminal wrongdoing by the officers involved.

Missourian reporter Matt Pearce contributed to this report.


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Comments

Charles Dudley Jr September 2, 2009 | 3:32 a.m.

Great job CPD and keep up the great work.

The moral of the story is if you do not want to get Pepper Sprayed and then Tasered for resisting arrest then you need to cooperate fully with the officer in charge.

(Report Comment)
Darren Jordan September 2, 2009 | 6:59 a.m.

What are the statistics regarding the use of tasers against the minority versus the majority here in Columbia? It appears that the paper only reports the taser use against the minorities. (example- According to previous Missourian reports, Phillip Lee McDuffy, 45, of Columbia fell 15 feet from the Providence Road bridge over Interstate 70 onto an embankment after police shot him with a Taser in July 2008. McDuffy was critically injured in the incident. In March of this year, the Columbia Police Department admitted improper Taser use in two cases from September and October 2008).

What are the names of the people involved in the other two cases? (police officers, victims etc.. The news article should have disclosed their names along with Mr. McDuffy.
This seems to be a very touching issue with some Columbia citizens. (Internal investigation Unit or Citizen Review Board- select one for "your" services)

(Report Comment)
Tom Warhover September 2, 2009 | 8:38 a.m.

The September '08 involved a 14-year-old; the newspaper generally doesn't list names (if we have them) of juveniles. I believe the second case, which involved a man accused of urinating in public, is actually from December '08.

In a March 2 report to the City Council, then-interim police chief Tom Dresner wrote: "We cannot yet release the police report of the adult urination suspect because the case is not yet decided."

Now, that case was to have been in court that month. I don't know whether the newspaper followed up with a name then.

I'll keep looking and let you know.

By the way, according to an earlier Missourian report:

"The first incident covered in the report occurred in September 2008 and involves the use of a Taser on a 14-year-old person accused of shoplifting. The youth was shot by an officer with a Taser while trying to run from police. ..."

"The second incident occurred in December 2008. A man was shot by an officer with a Taser when he ran from police after being found urinating on a tree. He was charged with urinating in public and resisting arrest."

Tom Warhover
executive editor

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 2, 2009 | 9:18 a.m.

Hey Darren Jordan I wonder what the real percentage number is of Minorities vs Non Minorities in committing crimes all across this city truly is?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle September 2, 2009 | 9:24 a.m.

Giles was taunting the officer: "It's not illegal!" The officer, understandably but IMHO unprofessionally, decided to teach him a lesson. 'OK, then I'll make it illegal.' If you watch the video and read the transcript, that moment, that decision, made by the officer, is the critical point of escalation.

The tasering itself occurred like this: "Stop or I'll - ZAP - Shoot!"

Giles was certainly "asking for it" and I do not think his conduct was proper. But the officer's decision to escalate, and the premature etaserlation, were certainly no more proper than anything Giles did. Poor decisions by everyone involved.

It would be a godsend if this whole thing were dropped and just went away.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 2, 2009 | 9:28 a.m.

I'm not sure which video you were watching as the arresting officer did not use his Taser, thus the stop or I'll tase summation is incorrect. It was one of the responding officers who did so upon seeing Giles wrestling with the first officer.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle September 2, 2009 | 9:51 a.m.

John, I'm aware it was not Fielding that used the taser. The officer that did use the taser pulled the trigger a bit prematurely, before he was completely done warning Giles that he was about to get tasered.

Understandable, yes, but no more (or less) "proper" than anything Giles did.

(Report Comment)
Darren Jordan September 2, 2009 | 10:45 a.m.

Hey Charles Dudley, the % is probably the even if you include all the white collar crime that the non-minorities are involved in.

(Report Comment)
G A Miller September 2, 2009 | 12:29 p.m.

Just like the fox guarding the hen house when the police investigate the police. These "investigations" always say the police acted properly. It seems Columbia is on its way following the LA Sheriff Dept's foot steps. I had some hope the new Chief would bring in new civility to the department. But instead we have stories of more citations being issued than the Courts can handle and findings that it is proper to use a taser when ever the cops feel like it. OH WELL

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 2, 2009 | 12:54 p.m.

Hey Darren Jordan which group though are the most portrayed in our local news outlets as the perpetrators of the most crimes in this city?

Best re-evaluate your stats.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 2, 2009 | 1:02 p.m.

I'm not certain that the officer didn't issue a warning before using the Taser (been a while since I viewed the video). Additionally the PERF Taser guidelines that CPD is following states:

A warning should be given to a person prior to activating the CED unless to do so would place any other person at risk.

So a warning is preferred but there is enough wiggle room in that particular requirement to not mandate it with every deployment.

(Report Comment)
Darren Jordan September 2, 2009 | 1:55 p.m.

Hey Dudley its been nice talking to you. Keep up the good work on this blog site. You have a lot work to do within the community or shall I say "just your" community.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 2, 2009 | 2:23 p.m.

("Columbia police find officers' conduct 'proper' in Cafe Berlin incident.")
Um, O.K.
Now my question is, could it have been handled better?
And if so, how will this be conveyed to the officers involved?
(Improvements do not imply improper conduct, just a learning experience.
Perhaps even for the accused urinator.)

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 2, 2009 | 2:46 p.m.

Hey Darren Jordan hope you join in more of the conversations here as various points of view are always welcome.

Thank you on my blogs as both are going fine and the Disability Blog is like #1 on Google for it's category although the community forum lacks members it sure does rank nicely on Google and the hit count meter at the bottom goes up daily.

Stay classy. :)

(Report Comment)
Tracy Greever-Rice September 2, 2009 | 4:05 p.m.

Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.

Mark Twain
1835 — 1910

(Report Comment)

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