A Mississippi police officer has been fired after a dashcam video showed him using excessive force on a suspect who was already handcuffed and kneeling on the ground.
The video, recorded on July 16, begins with an unidentified officer approaching a van, which WTOP reports was being driven by a man suspected of shoplifting. The van moves a few feet before the officer draws his gun and gets the driver out of the vehicle.
Police Chief Benny Dubose, who released the footage, says that drawing the gun was justified. It's what happens next that wasn't.
After the first officer successfully handcuffs the suspect, other officers arrive on the scene. One of them, Daniel Starks, takes it upon himself to rough up the suspect. (The suspect is not resisting at the time Starks does this.) The men appear to exchange words, and this prompts Starks to rough up the suspect a second time. Then he draws his stun gun and shoots the suspect in the neck without apparent cause.
As Police Captain John Griffith later explained, the fact that he used a tactic known as a "drive-stun"—this is when the device is used while pressed against the target's skin—is significant as it is known to cause more centralized pain.
Starks walks away after the man falls to the ground. Other officers help the suspect get back up. Starks returns and applies pressure on the man's neck, a tactic reportedly used to force suspects to stand. When it doesn't work, Starks pulls out his stun gun and threatens to stun him a second time. The man then struggles to get back up and later falls to the ground once again.
Starks was initially punished by being suspended without pay, but this week he was fired. His termination came just a week and a half following the incident. It is not immediately clear if Starks will face criminal charges for his actions.
*CORRECTION: A previous version said that targeting the neck with the taser caused more centralized pain. The centralization was caused by the use of the "drive-stun" technique.
Photo Credit: Screenshot via YouTube/PoliceActivity