Bucks DA Clears Tullytown Police in Tasing of Teenager

David Heckler said that the police officers did not do anything wrong when they tased a handcuffed 14-year-old boy who attempted to escape custody last month.

After a month-long investigation into the details surrounding a Tullytown police officer's use of a taser to subdue a fleeing, handcuffed 14-year-old boy accused of shoplifting from the Walmart on Route 13, Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler cleared the officer and police department of any wrongdoing.

"Our investigation conclusively establishes to our satisfaction that Tullytown officers did not strike or otherwise abuse the juvenile subject," said Heckler. "His injuries were caused entirely by his fall which was a result of being tased."

Heckler recounted the events of Nov. 12, detailing how Tullytown officers received a 911 call at approximately 2:30 p.m. for a suspected shoplifting at Walmart. Dashboard camera footage shown to reporters show a black SUV driving out of the parking lot and onto southbound Route 13. One police vehicle blocks traffic at the intersection of the shopping center's parking lot entrance and Route 13, while another police car stops diagonally at the SUV's right rear.

The footage shows both officers coming up on both sides of the suspected vehicle, guns drawn. The teenaged suspect is taken out of the passenger side and ordered to the ground, then handcuffed and brought to the rear of the SUV.

One of the officers tilted the dashboard camera to show the three handcuffed subjects, the boy, his uncle and aunt. As officers begin to lead the subjects to the police car, the 14-year-old appears to see an opportunity and makes a break for it, running off camera.

Heckler said that the teen was running along southbound Route 13 and ignored verbal warnings from the pursuing officer. The officer deployed the taser to keep the boy from getting injured by traffic on the heavily traveled highway, Heckler said.

The dash camera footage did not capture the actual tasing, but detectives spoke with five separate eyewitnesses who said they did not see officers kick or beat the boy, according to Heckler. An officer readjusts the camera, showing the teenager being walked back to the police car.

The boy's mother, Marissa Sargent, and two advocates who have conducted their own investigation into the incident, say the crux of their complaint relies on the actual tasing. Greg Brinkley, a former corrections officer, told reporters gathered outside the district attorney's office that the use of the taser constituted excessive force.

Ed Lloyd said that they performed their own reconstruction of the events, and the boy said he was running toward the shopping center driveway, not into the Route 13 traffic and that officers should have been able to catch up with him without the use of the taser.

A preliminary inquiry into the original incident was performed immediately after the incident at the request of the Tullytown police department. After Sargent posted photos of the boy's bruised face that went viral on social media, Heckler told the press at the time that the preliminary inquiry supported the Tullytown Police Department's use of the taser.

Continued scrutiny from supporters of the tased teenager prompted the Tullytown police chief to request an in-depth investigation by the district attorney's office. Brinkley and Lloyd contend that the investigation should have been conducted by a special prosecutor.

"Mr. Heckler made comments in support of the police officers," said Lloyd. "He had already compromised the investigation."

Lloyd and Brinkley said that Thursday's presentation was not the end of their efforts. They have requested that the Department of Justice conduct a thorough investigation and said that letters will be written to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.

An FBI spokeswoman confirmed with philly.com that the agency is looking into the incident at the request of the Tullytown police department.


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