POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Cellphone video is shedding new light on a chaotic incident involving a 15-year-old boy who was arrested at a Davenport hotel last week.
Law enforcement was called to Sunset Palm Hotel in Davenport Thursday night after reports the teenager assaulted his 18-year-old girlfriend, who is seven months pregnant.
According to an arrest affidavit, Sgt. Shanon Gaylord witnessed the teen hold the victim by her hair, as she tried to get away.
In a newly-released cell phone video, Sgt. Gaylord can be seen holding the teen’s left arm behind his back.
The boy is surrounded by several people. Some appear to be deescalating the situation. Others are yelling, saying he should be arrested.
“I’m not doing nothin’, I’m calm,” the boy said in the video.
Moments later, he said he would “swing on her” twice.
After the second time the teen threatened to swing, Sgt. Gaylord deployed her Taser, hitting the teen, who fell to the ground.
The teen was taken into custody and is facing eight charges.
In the arrest affidavit, Sgt. Gaylord said she feared for her safety.
“Due to the suspect being larger in size than Sgt. Gaylord, the suspects actions and attitudes, the suspect actively resisting, and the suspects threatening to do bodily harm against Sgt. Gaylord, this placed Sgt. Gaylord in fear and caused her to believe that danger was imminent,” the affidavit stated.
But others are saying the boy did not pose any threat.
“Video footage, captured by [the boy’s] mother, revealed that [the boy] did not pose a threat to law enforcement at the time he was Tased by Sergeant Gaylord and we find the actions taken by Sergeant Gaylord unjustified and unlawful,” Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk said in a statement.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office addressed the accusations by the group.
“He was actively fighting her. She ended up having to use her Taser. This guy’s 5’9, 190 pounds. Our sergeant’s probably 5’5, but she’s tough. She’s the only female on our SWAT team actually,” Carrie Horstman, media relations administrator for Polk County Sheriff’s Office, said in an interview Monday.
During a Wednesday press conference, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the deputy followed protocol. Judd said the teen’s direct threat to “swing on” the deputy led to the use of the stun gun.
“She doesn’t have to wait for a 5’9″, 190-pound man to turn around and knock her down before she asks,” Judd said. “If we messed up, we’ll dress up, fess up and fix up. We didn’t do anything except what we should have done.”
According to Judd, the victim gave a written statement to deputies that the suspect attacked her, but has since asked to retract the statement.
He said the press release sent out by Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk was “factually just not accurate.”
Judd also played part of the original 911 call that brought deputies to the scene.
Sgt. Gaylord called for backup after she deployed her Taser. While responding, Haines City Police officer Brad Webster was accidentally hit by Polk County Sheriff’s Office’s vehicle, which was being driven by a lieutenant.
As of Monday morning, Officer Webster remains at an area hospital. Authorities said one of the charges against the teenager involved the officer’s injuries.
At a press conference Wednesday Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk called for criminal charges against Sgt. Gaylord as well as an investigation of the incident by the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice.
The group also called for transparency, specifically for Polk County deputies to start wearing body cameras.
The group disputed some of the statements in the arrest affidavit, mainly that the suspect was assaulting the alleged victim. They said both the victim and the suspect’s mother said there was no violence, but they did acknowledge there was a dispute.
They also reiterated they feel the video shot by witnesses from the suspect’s arrest shows the teen was not resisting the deputy and posed no threat to her.