After being stopped by police because the car he was driving matched an outstanding warrant for a woman, a 17-year-old boy ended up stunned with a Taser, on the ground and in the hospital, where medical staff had to induce a coma to stabilize the injuries he allegedly suffered at the hands of the Independence, Missouri, police.
The Kansas City Star reported that the FBI has launched an investigation into the incident and that “Independence police said that they would cooperate ‘hand-in-hand’ with the federal investigation and the officer had been placed on administrative leave.”
The boy, Bryce Masters, is the son of a police officer in nearby Kansas City. He was allegedly driving alone Sunday afternoon in a vehicle whose license plate matched that of a woman whom the police had been hunting.
She wasn’t in the car, and Masters reportedly couldn’t get his window to roll down when ordered to do so by Independence officer Tim Runnels. The Star cites witnesses who indicate Runnels appeared frustrated that Masters wasn’t rolling down his window, and that Runnels’ subsequent alleged actions appeared to show him taking that frustration out on the boy:
Police said the stun gun was used on the teen while he was still in the car. At some point, Masters got out of the car under his own power but later fell to the ground, Maj. Paul Thurman said.
…Witnesses said police overreacted.
‘Several times, the cop put his foot on the kid like he was stepping on his neck, but it was on his back,’ said Robert Baker, who lives nearby. ‘I think (the officer) was wrong, because the kid tried to explain to him that his window won’t roll down.’
Others said that Masters, who was in the neighborhood to visit a classmate, did not resist when Runnels pulled him over. They said Masters told the officer that the car’s window would not roll down.
Another witness said she saw Runnels drag Masters into a driveway and drop him, causing Masters’ head to hit the pavement. Masters was listed late Monday in critical condition at a nearby hospital.
“Independence police have firmly defended the actions of Officer Tim Runnels, saying he used a stun gun on the 17-year-old in accordance with department policy,” KCTV News reported Monday. “Runnels has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is routine in cases like this.”