COLUMBIA — Barely one month after Columbia Police Department officers shocked with a Taser a 45-year-old man , eight citizens have filed an official complaint against Police Chief Ken Burton.
On Nov. 16, police officers responded to a call for trespassing at the Starbucks near the intersection of Ninth and Elm streets. After the man left Starbucks, the officers found him at the Subway, 304 S. Ninth St., where he was uncooperative in speaking with the officers.
The officers struggled to handcuff the man and, after warning him, the officers shocked him with a Taser. The man was then taken to University Hospital for evaluation.
The citizens who filed the complaint — including Mary Hussmann, organizer of Citizens for a Taser-Free Columbia — said that the man still has not been charged, and they want to know whether the use of a Taser was necessary.
"The people have a right to know what the continuum of force is and what measures are taken if those continuum of force standards are not followed," Hussmann said. "We believe that this was an excessive use of force."
The individuals are looking for clarification on aspects of the department’s policy and have asked to hear from Burton within the next 30 days.
"The complaint does not call for a ban on Tasers. It calls for clarification," Hussmann said. "We don't know how this potentially lethal weapon is going to be used in Columbia."
The complaint will not be released for 30 days to give Burton time to respond or let the people know why he cannot, Hussmann said.
Dan Viets, president of the Mid-Missouri Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, also commented on the issue.
"Our board is concerned about the issue, and it sounds like an incident where a Taser was uncalled for and an alternative would've been sufficient," Viets said.
The Police Department is currently wrapping up a mandatory use of force investigation into the incident. Police could not comment further on the incident because the record remains closed pending the man's arrest.