A police department in Indiana has concluded its investigation into a complaint filed by an off-duty firefighter who said he was threatened with a Taser and mistreated after he claims he only waved at the cops. The investigation found the officer did nothing wrong in the stop.
Last week, George Madison, a firefighter and youth minister, was riding his bike when he said he waved at officers in a cruiser, thinking they might be some of his friends in the department. The Evansville officers pulled Madison over, saying he had run a stop sign on his bicycle. Madison said he thought they may misinterpreted his wave as a graphic gesture. The situation seemed to escalate from there with a series of misunderstandings between Madison and the officer — but Madison vowed not to hold a grudge.
Madison filed a complaint after the incident, launching an investigation by the department, which WFIE-TV reported Wednesday found the officer ultimately did not violate any department policies.
Part of this investigation included footage from body camera worn by officer Jason Clegg. The footage from the camera was released to WFIE through a Freedom of Information Act request.
But while the video has been released, it appears the the camera was not turned on at the beginning of the incident. Footage starts with Madison already in handcuffs and later shows him telling officers why and who he had been calling on his cellphone after he was pulled over. This means it doesn’t show the initial wave by Madison or deal with his claims that officers held a Taser “inches” from his face.
At one point, Madison apologizes for his actions and says he understands that the officer was just trying to do his job.
The stop as a whole caused a stir with some who thought it might have been racially motivated. The Courier-Press reported that Madison didn’t think race was a factor but filed his initial complaint because he thought Clegg was being aggressive.
Watch snippets of the more than 10-minutes of footage in WFIE’s report:
At one point in Clegg’s body-cam video, Madison says “the only thing that anybody wants is to be treated like a mother f***ing human.”
At a recent city council meeting, Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin — the man who Madison said he was calling during the stop, something that lead officer Clegg to take stronger action in the situation as he didn’t know who Madison was calling at the time — was asked about diversity training in the department.
According to the Courier-Press, diversity training has been given at the department, but not for about 18 months. Bolin went on to say that he doesn’t think diversity training is necessarily the issue at stake with this recent situation either:
“I don’t think it’s as much a need for diversity (training) as for common basic courtesy. I don’t know if you can call it training, but we have a departmental newsletter where I’ve addressed diversity issues, where I’ve talked to the officers about how we expect things to be handled, how we expect to treat people. If you talk to any officer on the department, the two words I’ve pounded into their heads over and over is, be nice. Treat people right, and be nice. … I don’t think it’s a matter of (training); all of them know what they’re supposed to do.”
More police departments across the country are outfitting officers with body cameras to record exactly what happens during certain situations for the safety of the officer and to handle complaints, such as this one, that are filed later.