A man who was stunned repeatedly with a Taser during a traffic stop in November 2006 was found not guilty Friday of resisting the officer’s attempts to take him into custody. The jury’s verdict on the misdemeanor count was handed down following a three day trial and several hours of deliberation.
Clarence Davis, Jr. was originally stopped by police for a seat belt violation. Authorities discovered his driver’s license and registration were not valid, according to a department report on the Nov. 2, 2006, arrest, and Officer Robert Biel attempted to take him into custody.
What occurred in the course of the arrest was in dispute, but at the heart of the defense’s case was the failure of a dash-mounted camera in the police car to record the incident. According to Davis’ attorney Nick Albukerk, the consistent testimony of three eye witnesses, coupled with a lack of video evidence from the officer, was overwhelming. Further harming the prosecutor’s claim, Albukerk said, were several inconsistencies in the testimony offered by Biel and another officer who arrived at the scene to offer assistance. Neither vehicle’s camera system recorded the arrest, and the officers gave conflicting testimony regarding the equipment.
“These guys are supposed to use these systems every single day of their career and then you have two officers that contradict each other over whether the system exists,” Albukerk said following the Jan. 11 verdict.
Davis has said he is considering bringing a civil complaint against the police department. He could not be reached for comment. Albukerk said Monday it’s unclear whether Davis has made a decision.
“I have talked to him about the possibility,” Albukerk said.
Biel, the arresting officer in the case, was disciplined by the department for failing to activate the cruiser’s recording equipment. A department policy requires officers to record each traffic stop and, according to the policy, the camera should be activated automatically whenever the vehicle’s emergency lights are used.
Deputy Police Chief Tom Aftanas was disappointed with the outcome of the case and said he has not heard whether Davis intends to file suit.
However, both Aftanas and Albukerk were in agreement that it was unusual for a misdemeanor case to take several days of testimony and then several hours of deliberation to resolve. According to Albukerk, notes taken by jury members were lost, possibly thrown out by a courthouse janitor or sheriff.
“It’s not too often when misdemeanor cases last three days,” Aftanas said.