Recently released video from police body cameras shows how an officer in Fredericksburg, Virginia used a Taser and pepper-sprayed a man who was suffering from a medical emergency on May 4. Fredericksburg police officer Shaun Jergens resigned on May 14 although he insists he did nothing wrong. Jergens was one of three officers who responded to calls of a hit and run driver going the wrong way down a street. David Washington, 34, was driving a Hyundai that hit a jeep before stopping in the middle of an intersection, reports WTOP. When the officers arrive they demand Washington put his hands up but the driver is nearly motionless and does not say anything. “Get out of the car or I’m going to fucking smoke you,” Jurgens says at one point. Jurgens then draws his Taser before using a huge amount of pepper spray on Washington’s face.
The way in which Washington barely reacted to such a large amount of pepper spray should have maybe been a hint that something was wrong. But another officer proceeds to yank Washington to the pavement and at that point he can be heard moaning. “I can’t breathe,” he says before telling the officers he has been sick for days and doesn’t know what’s wrong. He was later taken to the hospital and sources tell the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star that Washington “had a massive stroke and was treated in the intensive care unit.” Charges have been filed against Washington for hit and run, reckless driving and driving on a revoked license.
In a statement, Jurgens insists he acted out of concern for public safety. But the police department determined the amount of force used in the incident was “not appropriate.” Fredericksburg Police rules say officers cannot use a Taser on someone who is behind the wheel of a car or anyone who is “passively resisting,” according to WTVR. “The use of force demonstrated in the incident involving Mr. Washington was not in compliance with department policy or training,” Capt. Rick Pennock said. “We take matters such as these very seriously and require that officers at all times exercise appropriate restraint and good judgment.”