A Virginia police officer resigned amid claims of excessive force when he used a Taser and pepper-sprayed a man who was suffering from a medical emergency, according to police accounts and newly released body cam video. Fredericksburg Police Officer Shaun Jergens stepped down May 14, 10 days after he confronted wrong-way driver David Washington, 34, in a suspected hit-and-run crash.
But Washington had actually suffered a stroke, an unnamed source told WTOP.While Jergens has denied any wrongdoing, Capt. Rick Pennock admitted Friday the officer used excessive force. The use of force demonstrated in the incident involving Mr. Washington was not in compliance with department policy or training,” Pennock said in a statement. “We take matters such as these very seriously and require that officers at all times exercise appropriate restraint and good judgment in their dealings with citizens.”
The showdown took place earlier this month when Washington plowed through a city road sign, drove over a median and eventually struck another car before his Hyundai came to a stop in the middle of an intersection near the campus of the University of Mary Washington.
Police responded to reports of a hit-and-run and found Washington still in his car. He refused to comply with officers’ demands to show his hands, police said.
That’s when Jergens, the last of three cops to arrive at the scene, promptly took control.
“It was dispatched via the radio that citizens reported that the suspect was moving around a lot inside of his vehicle,” Jergens said in a statement to the Free Lance-Star. “I believed that the suspect may be looking for a weapon or looking to conceal a weapon based on this information and the fact that he was believed to be fleeing a felony (hit and run of an occupied vehicle).”
He approached the driver’s side and shot Washington with a Taser through the open window, according to dramatic police footage.
Department policy doesn’t permit officers to use stun guns on people passively resisting or still in control of a vehicle in motion, WTVR reported.
When his Taser didn’t properly connect, video shows Jergens moved in close and doused Washington in the face with a stream of pepper spray as Cpl. Matt Deschenes opened the door and yanked an unresponsive Washington to the pavement.
Police, who found beer in the back seat of the Hyundai, believed Washington was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to WTOP.
Washington received medical attention at the scene and was hospitalized.