In melee, a suspect wrests Taser from Park City police officer
May 13, 2016
A man who led the authorities on a high-speed chase in March wrestled a spent Taser away from a Park City police officer and pointed the weapon at a Summit County deputy before he was taken into custody, prosecutors say in a charging document, outlining an unusual set of circumstances that led to the man getting the Taser from the officer.
The Park City Police Department said the officer’s Taser had already been used against the man and he could not have used it again until it had been recharged. Rick Ryan, a Police Department captain, said an internal investigation determined the officer whose Taser was taken and the other officers who responded were justified in their actions. It is extraordinarily rare, though, for a suspect to take a weapon from a Park City officer.
The officer who lost the Taser to the man has been with the Police Department approximately six years and was once named the department’s officer of the year by the Park City Elks Lodge.
"The fact the Taser was taken away from him, that’s on the suspect," Ryan said.
Summit County prosecutors charged the man with a count of disarming a police officer energy device, a third-degree felony that is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine upon conviction. The prosecutors charged the man, who is 50 years old and from the East Side of Summit County, with six other counts, including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, interfering with an arresting officer and failing to respond to an officer’s signal to stop. The authorities are holding the man without bail at the Summit County Jail.
The Police Department has dealt with the man on several occasions in recent months, including an arrest on Main Street on a firearms charge in late February. He also was ordered out of a Main Street restaurant in February after he was seen with a gun in his waistband, prosecutors said. The high-speed chase and the wrestling away of the Taser occurred on March 10.
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A charging document filed in 3rd District Court at Silver Summit indicates a gas station at Kimball Junction reported the man stole beer and left driving westbound on Interstate 80. A deputy realized from the man’s description and the vehicle description that it was the person who had been involved in the earlier incidents.
A Sheriff’s Office deputy found the vehicle parked at a viewing area on the interstate and ordered the man to remain there. The man drove away eastbound, starting a pursuit that reached 120 mph, the prosecutors say. The vehicle exited at Tollgate Canyon, reaching speeds of 60 mph, before a snowbank blocked his way at a driveway.
The deputies ordered him out of the vehicle before a standoff began. The man "sat in his sedan, drank beer, threw beer cans and bottles out the window, made hand puppets in the flashing lights, fed beer to his hand puppets, and rummaged around in his sedan," the charging document says.
The man eventually got out of the vehicle before reaching for his waistband, prompting a Park City officer to shoot him in the shin with a foam baton, which is a nonlethal round, the prosecutors say. He got back into his vehicle. The law enforcement officers then used Tasers and physical force against him to get him out of the vehicle.
"During the melee (the man) wrested a taser away from" the officer and then aimed at the deputy, the prosecutors said. Several officers subdued him and took him into custody.
Ryan said the man got the Taser during a struggle on the ground between himself and several law enforcement officers. There were six or seven police officers or Sheriff’s Office deputies at the scene by then, he said.
"He was able to fight through it. It did slow him down a bit, but it did not stop him," Ryan said.