TPD Suspends Officers Involved In Dunn Street Tasing Incident

Jan 26, 2015

The confrontation between Viola Young and TPD Officer Terry Mahan was captured on video.

The Tallahassee Police Department is disciplining two officers for tasing an elderly woman in a September 2014 incident on Dunn Street.

The Tallahassee Police Department and city of Tallahassee had just settled a use-of-force lawsuit with a woman who was beaten in a DUI arrest, when a video surfaced of TPD officers stunning another woman—seemingly, or no reason:

The video was shot by a bystander and shows the arrest and tazing of 61-year-old Viola Young. Moments earlier, three of her family members had been stopped and arrested by TPD officers, including Terry Mahan and Chris Woods. The video shows Mahan using a taser to stun Young as she walked away from him.

Monday, TPD released the results of an internal investigation into the incident. During a press conference about the department's findings, , TPD Chief  Mike DeLeo said Mahan's use of the taser on Young wasn't justified.

“Although Mahan’s actions were legal, his actions did not reflect the expectations of the agency when he attempted to arrest Ms. Young and utilize the Taser," DeLeo said. "Officer Mahan had the opportunity to verbally communicate with Ms. Young and de-escalate the situation.”

The state dropped all charges against Young and her family.

DeLeo says Mahan is being suspended for a month without pay and will have to go additional training. He’s also being transferred to a different area. Woods is suspended for two days without pay for his role. The suspensions come as law enforcement agencies across the county are under scrutiny for use of force. DeLeo also addressed perceptions during his press conference.

“In 2013 the Tallahassee Police department handled 179,482 calls for service. During that same year, TPD had to use force in 1,513 incidents. which is less than 1-percent of all calls for service," he said, citing a recent study into TPD's use-of-force data.

There is little data available tracking use of force claims. But the use of body camera technology is being adopted by law enforcement agencies across the state, and the country. A bill that would require officers to use body cameras is making its way through the legislature, and is expected to be watered down next month amid opposition by law enforcement.