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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Tasered While Holding a Quran - Koran

Source: Ocala.com

Ocala, Florida, USA - Four Ocala police officers have been cleared of allegations by a city resident involving excessive force, obscene or inappropriate language, conduct unbecoming of an officer and falsifying a police report in connection with an August incident.

Jeffrey Shields, 49, was stunned with a Taser by one of the officers when he refused to drop a copy of the Quran - the Muslim holy book sometimes spelled "Koran" - that was hidden under his shirt. Shields also said he was kicked in the head.

The officers were cleared by a three-member panel at the Police Department, according to an Internal Affairs report released on Tuesday. Officers cleared in Taser incident

Though Shields wrote a statement that triggered a probe in the incident, which occurred in the early hours of Aug. 31, he didn't give an oral statement to the investigative team that looked into the matter. Police officials said the department contacted him twice to arrange appointments, but he was a no-show.

The case was assigned to Internal Affairs on Sept. 20 and was scheduled for completion by Nov. 1. However, an Oct. 25 e-mail addressed to Deputy Chief Greg Graham stated that "due to trying to set up interviews with the complainant this investigation has been delayed."

In one instance, Capt. Keith Escaravage, head of the Internal Affairs Division, found Shields in the Star-Banner parking lot on Sept. 28, told him the department had tried to contact him for a week and would like to interview him, according to a Police Department memo. Shields said he wasn't interested until he talked with his lawyer. Escaravage asked Shields to call the office and at least set up an appointment.

Here's a summary of the incident from earlier police reports:

Shortly after 1 a.m. on Aug. 31, police received an anonymous call about a man wearing a Lakers T-shirt who had drugs and a weapon in the Parkside Gardens area.

At first, corporals Jamie Buchbinder and Philip Hazel and Patrol Officer Bernard Smith, didn't find the person. They then located Shields, who fitted the description given to them. Shields had his hands under his shirt. Not knowing what he had concealed under the jersey, officers demanded he show his hands.

Buchbinder and Hazel thought he had a weapon, according to police reports. They ordered him to drop it.

Shields, the report noted, kneeled down and stretched out on the ground. His right hand was under his shirt, while the other hand was stretched out. He then placed both hands in front of him.

When Smith went to handcuff him, Shields allegedly placed his right hand on the bulky object at his waist, which later turned out to be a copy of the Quran. Officers told Shields to remove his hand. He reportedly refused to do so, and Hazel Tased him three times. More HERE

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