The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

MAY  2006

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.

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J C Bowman

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Pettus Read

Excessive Taser Use Exposed
Multiple accounts of BCSO jail staff shocking inmates while they were restrained

by Pete Edwards

[Editor's note: The name of Brian Woods mentioned in this report is incorrect, it

should have read Brian Woodby. The error was due to the wrong name being entered on Bradley Memorial Hospital Emergency Department medical records and injury photographs obtained by The People News. We apologize for any misunderstanding that may have occurred. (This note was added after the printed edition of the May issue of the The People News had been distributed.)]

More than a month since Chris McCargo fell into a coma after being stunned with a Taser while in custody at the Bradley County jail, additional cases of what appear to be excessive and illegal use of the device are being alleged.





One case involves the tasing of the abdomen and genitalia of Brian Woods, 26, who had been strapped to a gurney after hitting his head and becoming unconscious while in a cell. Woods said, that when he regained consciousness and realized he had been restrained, he panicked and struggled to release himself, it was at this point that he was shocked 4 to 6 times on the lower stomach and genital area including the testicles. He said that the officer who used the Taser was justice center employee, Michael Cooper, the same officer that is alleged to have shocked McCargo in the neck prior to him becoming comatose. Woods said that he had been handcuffed and transported to the jail after his mother had been stopped for

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DUI on Waterlevel Highway on New Year's Eve. He said he had been a passenger in the car along with his girlfriend, Kathryn McCoy, who was also handcuffed and transported to the jail. Neither Woods or McCoy were charged with an offence and were released after Woods was treated for the Taser injuries at Bradley Memorial Hospital. He said after his release he tried to file a complaint with the sheriff's office but they refused to record it, so he called 911 from his father's home to make the complaint and was threatened with arrest for misusing the 911 service. He said that after being unable to find a local attorney willing to take his case, he relocated to Florida and tried to put the episode behind him. Later he was told of the McCargo case, so returned to Cleveland to meet with John Wolfe, the Chattanooga attorney representing the McCargo family.

In a telephone interview with Kathryn McCoy, she confirmed Woods' story and said that she had been roughly treated and was thrown into a ditch after she had been handcuffed. She said that she had been placed in a holding cell next to Woods and saw a large group of jail employees witnessing the tasing of her boyfriend. She said that many of those present seemed to be enjoying what was happening. She also added that Woods is dark skinned because of his Asian blood and was apparently mistaken for Hispanic. A racial remark was heard from one of the female staff present.

Attorney Wolfe said he had also been contacted by Jason Adams who alleges to have been thrown to the floor and stunned with a Taser while being forcibly

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showered at the Bradley County Jail after being arrested for underage drinking. Adams, 20, in a telephone interview said. he had been sprayed with mace while being arrested and the shower was required to wash the mace from his eyes and mouth. He said his mouth was foaming from the mace and officers accused him of spitting at them. He said he was tased in the middle spine and in the kidney area by officer Marshall Hicks while laying face down on the shower floor.

Wolfe said that while McCargo remains in a coma and the prognosis is not encouraging, the Sheriff's Office has not provided answers to questions by his family as to why a few hours after being walked into the Bradley County Justice Center he was carried out in a coma. He said the Sheriff's Office is saying that McCargo was tased just once in the neck and the internal history of the Taser allegedly used, recorded one 5 second burst at the time McCargo was shocked. But Wolfe said he has been unable to uncover real evidence of what happened because the surveillance tape was recorded over and an additional video tape taken using a hand held camera set up by Marshall Hicks, the officer alleged to have used a Taser on Adams, has not been produced. Wolfe said that all evidence of the time McCargo was in custody is, with the exception of the Taser, missing.

Wolfe said in a media release, "The family of Chris McCargo is asking the Bradley County Sheriff's office to withdraw from the investigation of Chris' case and allow the FBI to do the entire investigation. At present Tonya Elkins of the BCSO is doing most of the investigating, despite the fact that she is a social friend with officers Tina and Mike Cooper, the latter of them fired a stun gun into Chris McCargo's neck."  "After losing Chris' bodily fluids, his blood stained clothes, the film of tasering, and each of the six straps that held Chris in his restraint chair, Sheriff Dan Gilley's staff simply can't be trusted to do a fair or honest investigation, much less so when he is asking friends to investigate friends." "Moreover, the family was never informed of Chris' tasing by Gilley's employees; instead, they learned what really happened from an inmate, who was courageous enough to convey the whole truth to Chris' family, including the fact that officer Marshall Hicks had mounted a hand-held camera to film Chris for over three hours.  At the meeting that Dan Gilley called with the family, Gilley stated that he had only a few minutes of Chris' custody on film."

In November 2005, before the McCargo incident,  three former Bradley County jail inmates filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming physical assault, illegal Taser gun use on inmates who are handcuffed and other allegations. The three plaintiffs, Charles Hicks, Robert Tribble and James Ledford allege inmates Adam Colvin, Richard Jerger, Ramsey Harris, Tark Martin, Jackie Gray and others as well as themselves, were physically assaulted and Taser guns used illegally on cuffed inmates.

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The People News
PO Box 3921
Cleveland TN. 37320
(423) 559-2150  Fax 559-1044

Editor-Publisher, Pete Edwards
Copyright 2006 (All rights reserved)


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