A Joliet man arrested for driving on a suspended license filed a formal complaint against the Forest Park Police Department after he was shocked with a Taser.
Clarence Davis, Jr., 31, said he was not threatening the officer who stunned him, and that while standing with his hands on top of his car, the officer shocked him several times until he defecated.
“I never took my hands off the car and I never made a move like I was going to attack him,” Davis said.
In the past year, 26 people have been Tasered by Forest Park police, according to Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas. This is the second complaint filed against the department for its use of Tasers in roughly a week, Aftanas said.
According to an incident report filed by the arresting officer Robert Biel, a “very agitated” Davis refused to comply with the officer’s commands and attempted to get away from him. During the alleged struggle, Biel Tasered Davis in the lower back on at least two occasions, according to the report, but the device “had no apparent effect.”
“I instructed Davis to place his hands behind his back again and Davis did not comply and was drive stunned several more times to his lower back, again having no apparent effect,” Biel stated in his report.
The incident occurred on Nov. 2 in the 7400 block of Randolph Street shortly after noon.
Biel goes on to say that while at the police station Davis asked to use the bathroom but the request was denied, pending a search of his possessions. A second officer assisting with the arrest reported to Biel that “Davis then made a face as though forcing a bowel movement,” according to the report.
The police report lists Davis as being 6 feet tall and 225 pounds, though Davis described himself as weighing closer to 240 pounds. A criminal background check by Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas revealed Davis was arrested two years ago in Chicago for obstructing a police officer, but Aftanas said Davis has no history of violence.
Biel is roughly 5 feet 11 inches tall, Aftanas said, and weighs about 175 pounds.
Once under arrest, Davis said he was forced to sit in his soiled clothing for an hour before he was given a paper suit to wear. Police took several hours processing him, Davis said, and at no point was he allowed to clean himself up.
While sitting in a holding area, officers commented on the smell and mocked him, Davis said.
“They were pointing and saying, ‘It’s him, it’s him. He doo-dooed himself,'” Davis said.
Aftanas declined to comment on the arrest beyond what was stated in Biel’s report, but acknowledged it took “several hours” to process Davis. County officials were installing an electronic finger-printing device at the station and glitches occurred, Aftanas said.
Aftanas denied the claim that his officers left Davis to sit in his own feces, and that the change of clothes was offered 10 or 15 minutes after Davis defecated.
“We’re not gonna let somebody sit in their soiled clothing,” Aftanas said.
Aftanas was in his office on the day of the incident and was one of several officers to respond after Biel radioed for backup. According to the officer’s report, a call for backup went out just before the Taser was initially used. Police dispatchers attempted to contact Biel while he was arresting Davis, but the officer was not responding, Aftanas said. In his radio communication, Biel’s tone of voice alerted Aftanas that a “physical confrontation” may be taking place.
“If the guy was completely compliant I don’t understand why (Biel) would have to call for assistance,” Aftanas said.
The department’s policy on the use of force requires officers to determine what level of force is “objectively reasonable and necessary.” On an escalating list of eight kinds of force beginning with verbal commands and ending with the firearm, conducted energy weapons are third.
The department’s device is manufactured by Taser International, and according to the company’s Web site delivers 50,000 volts of electricity.
In neighboring Oak Park, Deputy Chief Robert Scianna said his officers will not be given Tasers until the devices are proven to be safe. Scianna said that although Tasers are touted as being a non-lethal weapon, people are in fact killed.
“In the case of the Taser I think the jury is still out on how safe they are to use,” Scianna said.