Mississippi police department fires cop who used stun gun on handcuffed man

Posted at 7:13 PM, Jul 27, 2018

A police officer in Meridian, Mississippi, has been fired after using his stun gun against a handcuffed suspect during a recent arrest, according to an official with the Meridian police department.

Officer Daniel Starks had chased a shoplifting suspect out of a Walmart on foot, but the man was able to get to his van and drive away, Meridian Police Capt. John Griffith told CNN. Another officer pulled the van over as it drove out of the parking lot.

The second officer's car dashcam recorded the July 14 stop and police released the video on Wednesday.

In the video, the officer who pulled over the van draws his gun as he approaches the van, which Griffith said was proper procedure. The officer then holsters the weapon to handcuff the suspect.

Starks drives up in another vehicle and grabs the driver roughly before stepping away, according to the video.

He returns and strikes the man with his forearm before pulling out his stun gun, the video shows. Starks drops the stun gun on the ground and then picks it up and presses it into the man's back -- shocking him.

"The suspect was not resisting, was complying with commands of the officers and in that case it was our opinion (there was) no need for any force other than handcuffs and placing him in a vehicle," Meridian Police Chief Benny Dubose told CNN affiliate WTOK.

The man falls to the ground, and as other officers help him up, Starks approaches again and puts his hands around the man's neck, according to the video.

Then Starks pulls his stun gun again and points it at the man. The man recoils at the sight of the stun gun and scrambles to his feet, according to the video. He is then led away by other officers.

The other officers reported the incident to their superiors almost immediately, according to Griffith.

Starks, who has not been charged with any crime, was suspended without pay after the incident and was fired Thursday, July 26, police said. He can appeal his termination.

Efforts by CNN to reach Starks were unsuccessful.

"The Meridian Police Department has zero tolerance for excessive force," Griffith said. "We hold our officers to a higher standard than that."

He said they have talked to the officers about how they could have handled the situation better.

Starks is white and the suspect is black, but Dubose, the police chief, told WTOK he did not think race was a motive.

"I think emotions may have played a part into it but I don't think it had anything to do with race. Whether the suspect or the officer was green, purple or blue, the rules were violated and that's what we were looking at," Dubose said, according to the TV station.

Griffith said his department has reported the incident to the FBI's civil rights investigators. The suspect, who was charged with shoplifting, he has not been in contact with the department since the incident, Griffith said.