March 15, 2007
By Lou Kilzer
DENVER, COLORADO – Kenneth Rodriguez probably didn’t know what hit him.
Handcuffed at a police station, he was shot in the neck by a stun gun by a Denver police officer.
It should never have happened, according to a report on police conduct released Wednesday.
The report does not name Rodriguez or the officer involved but the Rocky Mountain News confirmed the identities through court records and other sources.
Denver Independent Police Monitor Richard Rosenthal, showcased the incident as instance where the system worked.
Rodriguez, 47, was at a north Denver bar in January 2006, when there was a disturbance, according to a police report.
He soon found himself handcuffed and in custody in a police district station. The exact whys and hows are still up in the air.
Officer Randall Krouse said in his report that Rodriguez acted aggressively at the station and had to be stunned with a Taser gun.
The monitor says a video camera caught the scene and Rodriguez “was clearly not engaging in active aggression.”
According to Rosenthal, Krouse confronted Rodriguez, who speaks English, with this question: “Understando Taser?” He then zapped Rodriguez in the neck.
Krouse’s report said Rodriguez pushed a reserve officer into a wall.
Rosenthal said it didn’t happen. Instead, he concluded that Krouse was faced with a prisoner who “was not completely cooperative” and decided to use the high-voltage Taser gun.
Under Denver police policy, an officer is not allowed to Taser someone in the neck except when “deadly force” is warranted.
That was not the case with Rodriguez. He was handcuffed, in custody and no threat, Rosenthal said.
Still, he was charged with interference, disturbing the peace and assault, all misdemeanors.
He pleaded guilty the day after he was arrested, according to court records. It’s not clear why.
Rosenthal said Wednesday that he believed Rodriguez was “too drunk to realize what happened” and went along with the charges. After reviewing the case, the commanding officer suggested that Krouse serve a nine-day suspension for use of excessive force, inappropriate comments and the use of his Taser.
Police Chief Gerry Whitman later bumped the discipline up to 10 days.
But Rosenthal and Safety Manager Al LaCabe thought that was too lenient.
They went for a 60-day suspension, with 20 days held in abeyance - and then only if Krouse was willing to accept responsibility by accepting the suspension without any possibility of appeal.
The monitor said he did not recommend that Krouse be fired based in part on the officer’s “unblemished service record with numerous commendations and awards.”
The department instituted a “performance service plan” in an attempt to “save the officers career.”
After the tape surfaced, prosecutors went to court to get the conviction overturned.
The incident was the only arrest listed on Rodriguez’s record with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/l ... 95,00.html
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