Newly-released video showing an Allentown, PA police officer tasering a 14-year-old female student in September is causing debate over whether the officer used excessive force. The video was released as part of a lawsuit filed by the girls family.
The family says the officer targeted the girl even after she tried to "surrender" and lost his cool by using his taser. Police, however, tell a very different story.
The incident happened back on September 29 outside of Dieruff High School. The video first shows Keshana Wilson, 14, walking towards a car on the street with two friends on the 800 block of Washington Street before turning to talk to another group of students, according to the Morning Call.
The video then abruptly cuts to Allentown Police Officer Jason Ammary struggling with Wilson on the side of a parked car. Ammary appears to be shoving Wilson against the car. She then appears to push her left forearm against his face. Ammary then steps back and fires his Taser at Wilson’s groin, causing her to collapse to the ground. Several security officers then arrive. One can be seen leading a teen boy away in handcuffs.
Morning Call, the local paper, reports the girl was taken to the hospital to have the taser barbs removed form her leg.
Still, reports say she was charged with aggravated assault on the officer, simple assault, riot, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, failure to disperse and walking on the highway. The assault and riot charges were later dismissed.
The lawsuit claims excessive force, saying the officer fired the taser directly at the girls leg and then filed charges as a means to justify his actions.
But the police, according to Morning Call, give a different account of the events:
Police said Dieruff had been having problems with students being disorderly during dismissal. On Sept. 29, a large group of students crossing E. Washington Street in the 800 block had slowed to the point of stopping traffic.
According to a police report filed at the time:
Police tried to get students to move along with verbal commands. Most listened, but some remained in the middle of the street, talking on phones, texting or just not moving.
An officer approached the girl and two of her friends to get them to move along, but she began to curse, which was inciting the crowd. The officer went to arrest her for being disorderly, but she twisted away from him.
She began to resist and the officer had to lean her against the trunk of a car to place cuffs on her. The girl turned back and elbowed the officer in the chin.
The girl kept hitting the officer, so he backed up, un-holstered his Taser and fired at her. He reached down to get his cuffs, which fell during the struggle, and he placed her in custody.
Previously, the local police chief justified the officer's actions by citing the "use-of-force continuum," which Morning Call says means "that after the officer's presence and verbal commands fail, he or she can restrain and control an active resister through non-lethal means, such as pepper spray, hands, baton or the Taser."