A police officer from a Tampa suburb has been fired after footage from a bodycam emerged showing him using a Taser on a shoplifting suspect who had his hands up.
The officer, 36-year-old Tim Claussen, went to the house of Lester Brown, on September 9 to investigate a theft that had occurred at a local retailer earlier that day. The officer asked Brown, to leave his house, but Brown didn’t comply.
“Come outside now,”Claussen said, “or you’re about to get tased. This is the last time.”
The video then shows Brown being suddenly Tasered. He falls to the ground and the officer tells him that he had just “made it a lot worse”for himself.
“Why,”Brown asked, lying on his stomach, “‘cause I’m in my house?”
Police authorities in Zephyrhills, Florida announced the firing of 10-year veteran Claussen on Friday. An internal investigation determined that “the deployment of the Taser was unjustified,”city attorney Joseph Poblick said at a news conference.
Brown, 42, was later arrested on shoplifting charges, but they were later dropped by prosecutors at the request of the police department.
This firing comes at a time of increased scrutiny of police conduct, particularly against unarmed black men and women. But Captain Derek Brewer of the Zephyrhills Police Department told the Tampa Bay Times that there was no evidence the incident had been “racially motivated.”
“We recognized that there was an issue and that’s why we acted quickly,”Brewer said. “Given the circumstances of this incident, I feel like it was the right decision.”