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A Mississippi Police Officer Gets Fired for Using a Stun Gun on a Handcuffed Suspect

Meridian Police Chief Benny Dubose has released a dashcam video showing ex-officer Daniel Starks' misconduct.

|||Screenshot via YouTube/PoliceActivityScreenshot via YouTube/PoliceActivityA 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

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  • Rich||

    the fact that he targeted the neck is significant, because this is known to cause more centralized pain.

    "Your Honor, my client *specifically* avoided the sensitive groinal areas."

  • Kristian H.||

    Unpaid suspension? A week and half? That is practically instantly in government employee land. *IF* this became the norm, a fair bit of problems in the issues with 'a few bad actors' could be wrapped up PDQ.

  • Jerryskids||

    His termination came just a week and a half following the incident.

    That's the tip that they're all in on the game, obviously if Chief fired the guy that quickly he couldn't possibly have followed the due process procedures of the cop union and the inevitable appeal to the hearings board (after a suitable amount of time has passed for the incident to have slipped down the memory hole) will give the guy his job back, along with all his back pay, raises, promotions, etc. The chief gets to look like he's doing something about bad actors but the public slap on the wrist is as staged as any wrasslin' match.

  • Cyto||

    Your conspiracy theory skills are excellent!

    This is Mississippi, do their police employee unions have the level of power we've seen elsewhere? Your nutty conspiracy theory certainly comports with prior such actions, at least in the outcome.

  • Griffin3||

    Your conspiracy theory skills are excellent!

    Do you have a newsletter I can subscribe to?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It is not immediately clear if Starks will face criminal charges for his actions.

    But, that would almost guarantee his employment with another police department would be delayed! Hasn't he been punished enough?

  • Exsqueezeyou||

    "It is not immediately clear if Starks will face criminal charges for his actions."

    And FFS it's not clear because of reporting like this and commenters like you are making it difficult for the tazer smoked flesh to clear so that this can be put behind them.

    Did not take much time, if any at all, for cop complacency with dashboard and body cams. Must be the adrenaline.

  • Jerryskids||

    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.

    We're doing humor sketches now? Ask if any of this is going to cost him his LEO certification, that's always good for a chuckle.

  • Exsqueezeyou||

    "Ask if any of this is going to cost him his LEO certification..."

    You merciless POS. Earning that LEO certification was the most difficult 500 hours that officer ever spent. You expect him to have the stamina and dedication to obtain a cosmetology license, which requires 1500 hours in Mississippi, when you cannot even legally confront people with a gun and taze them for violating your authoritah.

    Where is your sense of proportion. Walmart should change their signs to read, "Shoplifters will likely be violently investigated" to serve as a greater and more accurate deterrent.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Then he draws his stun gun and shoots the suspect in the neck without apparent cause.

    The threat was so imminent that he had time to drop his stun gun and chase it across the roadway and pick it up and reassemble it before using it on the victim.

    Just kidding. Tasers are compliance tools not self defense implements.

  • sarcasmic||

    This right here is why I say there are no such thing as good cops.

    Good cops wouldn't tolerate this bullshit. The ones who don't participate just take it in stride. It's normal for one of their cohorts to assault and torture helpless victims. Just another day at the office.

    They are complicit, and just as guilty as the aggressor.

    Any cop who fails to intervene and report this shit should be charged with conspiracy. Get RICO on their collective asses.

  • Cyto||

    Yeah, there was a lot to digest along these lines in that short video.

    The initial arresting officer does not react at all as the second officer jumps in and risks turning a compliant suspect into a resisting suspect. Neither does he respond when the second officer pulls his taser. Nor does he respond in any way when the second officer walks up and nonchalantly tases the suspect in the neck. He just keeps processing the suspect.

    The black officer who arrives in time to help the suspect to his feet just walks away when taser-boy gets back into the scene, first grabbing him by the neck, then holding the taser in his face to threaten him. I take it that he was very uncomfortable with the officer's conduct, but was afraid to say anything.

    My first guess is that this guy is a known asshole who frequently turns violent - which would explain why nobody appears to make eye contact or communicate with him in any way... they all just keep their heads down and keep moving. It seems like more than "oh, we cops are allowed to do this" - more like they know he is over the line but are afraid of a confrontation.

  • sarcasmic||

    Asshole cops who frequently become violent are like cooks who spit in the food. They should not be tolerated.

  • JonFrum||

    If one cop goes against another, even if the other is breaking the law, that's the end of his career. Others - even in only a minority - will make his life miserable to the point that there's no sense keeping the job. If it were you, you'd keep your mouth shut too. Or would you tell you wife and kids that you just had to be a hero, and now you can't pay your mortgage, and your daughter can't have that dental work done. And even if you get a job with a new department, those guys will know who you are, and it would start all over again.

  • Cyto||

    Yeah, that was the vibe I was getting. Not "hell yeah! Tase him again!!
    enthusiasm .... more "Oh shit, Tony has lost it again..." resignation.

  • Left Libertarian||

    Naw they gave the vibe like if you fuck with us we can kill you.

  • Left Libertarian||

    Dude the police would flat out murder you if the right person wanted you dead. Then the media will claim you died in a mysterious robbery or an OD.

  • Longtobefree||

    This was all a big mistake; he meant to draw his firearm.

  • NoVaNick||

    The union will make sure he gets another job quickly, probably a promotion.

  • Cyto||

    I am impressed. This happened in Mississippi, home of Hayne, West and Hood... and a supreme court that held that even though the medical examiner had acted fraudulently to frame innocent people for murder in other cases, that was not enough reason to re-examine evidence in another case.

    So good for this police chief. He's definitely bucking the cultural trend with quick and decisive action against an officer who failed in his duty. Heck, they usually offer full backing until the public pressure becomes overwhelming, no matter where in the US they are located.

  • IceTrey||

    Was the guy even a shoplifter? I can't find anything about that.

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