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.