Friday, January 11, 2008

Utah Taser Trooper John Gardner Back On The Job, Victim Jared Massey Pays Reduced Fine Of $107

Another pair of milestones have been accomplished in the Jared Massey case. Today (January 11th, 2007) KSL Channel 5 reports that Utah Highway Patrolman John Gardner is off administrative leave and back on the job. His victim, Jared Massey, pleaded guilty at Uintah County Justice Court and paid a reduced fine of only $107 for simple speeding instead of the higher $232 fine for speeding in a construction zone (sounds like the judge may have also believed Trooper Gardner used excessive force and reduced the fine to reflect his thinking). Supplemental reports from KTVX Channel 4, the Deseret Morning News, and the Salt Lake Tribune.

Click HERE to view all previous posts on this subject.

However, John Gardner apparently hasn't just been sitting at home drawing pay. He's completed a course in verbal communication and conflict resolution -- skills UHP says could have made the outcome of that traffic stop much different. But UHP still defends the deployment of the Taser, even if they disagree about how it was used.

"There was a lack of communication, and it could have turned out a different way. However, the use of the Taser was reasonable in the circumstances that he was in," said Sgt. Jeff Nigbur, spokesman for the Utah Highway Patrol.

Gardner was placed on paid administrative leave in November of last year for his protection, not misconduct. "For his own safety, with some of the threats we were receiving on the Internet and also the phone calls we were receiving here at headquarters," Nigbur explained.

After investigating those threats, UHP officials decided it was safe for Gardner to return to work, but although the Department of Public Safety (DPS) review exonerated the trooper, the internal affairs investigation is still ongoing, although it's expected to be wrapped up next week. Investigators are working on setting up a time to meet with Massey about what happened. The outcome of that investigation will ultimately decide what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken. "Verbal counsel, letter of counsel, letter of reprimand, and can go up to termination of employment. But, again, that's based on a case by case basis," Nigbur said. The Utah Attorney General's office is also pursuing its own separate investigation.

To briefly recap the original incident, on September 14th, 2007, Jared Massey was stopped on U.S. 40 near Vernal and cited for speeding. He refused to sign the ticket and argued with UHP Trooper John Gardner, who ordered him out of the car. Gardner ultimately used his Taser on Massey after the Vernal man failed to comply with commands to place his hands behind his back. Gardner then fired the weapon a second time while Massey was still on the ground after Massey did not roll over onto his stomach. YouTube video presented once again for those who might be interested:

It was the second Tasering, plus the fact that Massey was merely walking slowly away from Gardner before the first Tasering, that generated such a public outcry. While cops are expected to expose themselves to risk to protect the community, they are not expected to just stand there and take an ass-whipping or to let a suspect flee without using necessary force. Massey was in that grey area - he was neither physically threatening the trooper, nor was he actively trying to flee.

Massey said he is still considering a civil rights lawsuit against Gardner and the highway patrol.

Commentary: Although the story is only about three hours old as of post time, the interest is still there. 205 comments have been posted in response to the KSL story. At least two-thirds of them favor the cop, so the attitude towards the cops has become more favorable as time heals the memories. Here's an example of one person who's changed his mind:

I'm more sympathetic to the cop...
by tom c. @ 8:58am - Fri Jan 11th, 2008

now that I've watched several programs on cops dealing with the public. I was completely against this cop when I first saw the youtube video, but after watching several episodes of Most Shocking, I've come to be very thankful for the job these guys do. They have no way of knowing if they've pulled over someone that is not playing with a full deck. And once in a while when they do, they never know if they're going to get shot at.

It's scary as he11 the scum cops have to deal with. Unfortunately, because of this, they all to often treat the rest of the public as potential criminals. I guess that's the only way to stay alive if your a cop.

Perhaps contributing to the shift is the fact that there have been several Taser incidents in Utah since that time, all of which the deployment of the Taser was justified. And, in several of those instances, the officer actually took some physical abuse before using the Taser. So, if anything, Utah cops may be overcompensating on the side of caution now. The Jared Massey case is apparently a fluke which is not representative of typical Utah cop behavior.

Still, I'm not sure Trooper Gardner should be completely let off the hook with no disciplinary action.


Anonymous said...

I'm happy he's back at work. I'm tired of Joe Citizen always wanting to tell the police how to do there job.

The trooper may have tased a second too early but it was a good move. The subject refused to sign the citation then was asked to exit the vehicle. The subject exited the vehicle and approached the officer then the officer moved to the front of his vehicle. Before that the officer instructed the driver to "Turn around and put your hands behind your back" the subject failed to comply the first time he was asked. The subject was asked again as the officer removed his tasor. The subject refused again and walked towards his vehicle with his right hand slightly in his right pocket while stating "what is wrong with you?" Problem solved with the tasor. There is no reason for the driver to return to his vehicle. A decision to arrest the driver for refusing to sign the citation was made. The vehicle is now out of the picture so the driver has no business returning to his vehicle.

Gregg said...

At anonymous.. you are a fool, I hope this happens to you one day. This cop should be fired.

Anonymous said...

The Police officers ARE citizens, in fact, they are SUPPOSED to work for the citizenry. it is this "US and them" mentality that fosters an atmosphere of brutality & use of unreasonable force on the part of LEOs. As a former coo, I have worked with a few badge heavy cops like that, I despise them.
This young man was foolish in not just signing the ticket and fighting it in court, at the same time the trooper failed to deescalate the situation from the outset- his comm8unication skills were obviously
unpolished. He's lucky that the passenger didn't pull a gun and pop him upon witnessing (from her perspective) what appeared to be an excessive use of force.
old LEO

Anonymous said...

Cops use the same amount of force to regulate circulation matters, as to deal with robbers... I personally don't want to be treated as a robber. If I put myself in a situation where I break the rules, I deserve to be reprimanded, but still that doesn't make me someone dangerous apart from this error. I imagine how hard it must be to instantly make the difference between someone potentially aggressive and someone not concentrate enough on his driving, but I hate to be taken by default for a potential threat. It’s a never ending story, but that kind of incident just shows how growing violence is. Taser don't kill, by this fact, they become the new communication tool, don't talk just tase it's more efficient than a chatty argue on who's wrong or right.

Anonymous said...

1. If the Citizen refuses to sign the ticket, Utah law says the officer is to write "refused to sign" and put it in the car.
2. To uses a Taser, or Gun, both considered deadly force by Utah law, the officer must be in imminent threat of life or limb.
3. When placed under arrest the officer has suppose to marandize him before asking questions.

Conclusion: Utah police can break the law and do what ever they want and they won't even lose their job much less be prosecuted for it. And all those sheeple that defend them are just being herded along by their police state. Will it require that they be brutalized before they think?

"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me." a poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of Germans following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

Anonymous said...

Law enforcement is to protect and serve the community safegard the property and protect its people. No where does it say an officer has a right to taser an individual for being scared of stupid in a non- threat situation. I agree that officers are put in situations that most of us never want to be in BUT that is why not everyone can or should be an officer of the law. That is why proper trainning and constent tracking of performance is nessarsary. When John Q Public makes a mistake or error in judgement the outcome is usually minor but when a law officer makes an error in judgement or has a bad day or whatever John Q Public pays the bill and can cost Him his life. These people should be held to the highest standards and should be role models for others to follow. These people know going in that they have one of the toughest jobs with the least amount of respect because they see the worst of people everyday. To abuse the trust that they are given should cost them more because they represent much more. This man was wrong and should lose his job for this mistake. He is not a rookie and there is no excuse. If he felt the situation was going wrong he should of called for back up but he didnt. He chose to be quick on the draw. Shamefull

Anonymous said...

sounds to me like your a bag licking cop.

>Anonymous said...
> I'm happy he's back at work. >I'm tired of Joe Citizen always >wanting to tell the police how to >do there job.

Anonymous said...

Do what the friggen Highway Patrol tells you to do and you won't get Tazzed. That's why you are allowed to contest any traffic ticket. Don't take it up with the Trooper. He's the law, he's in charge, and you do what he says.

Anonymous said...

The FBI will take care of this officer or the people will.

williamwotring said...

im sick of paying these ass holes saleries all the while they think they can beat up anybody they damn well please watch the video over he grabs the damn tazer right after he puts the papers down the victim never reached in his pockets before that, he never tried to walk away from the pig and was not threanting at all, all this ass hole wanted to do was fuck with this guy, then at the end of the video he tells a fabricted story to the other officer, this guy should be fired this is complete bullshit.

j.thornton.17 said...

first off to the people who say, just sign the ticket, we live in fu#$(%G America. You don't have to sign the ticket, if you don't feel like you did anything wrong. The guy wasn't hostile about it. Not one bit. He tried to get out and show the officer a sign, when the officer acted like Osama Bin Laden had a gun in his hand and got out of the vehicle. The guy must have thought he was joking when he put a gun to his face. What he thought was a gun. The action taken by the officer was above and beyond acceptable. It was uncalled for. The funny thing is the state admidted he did wrong when a lawsuit was filed and settle out of court. The video proves it enough when the officer starts to try and pick a fight with the pregnant wife. Who did nothing. The officer should've been tazed himself and learn from the experience. He should see what it feels like and maybe he will think twice.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is not America anymore. Not much honor here, plus the police officer changes his story. The guy in no way was a treat.