Taser victim says UHP is 'stonewalling'

He says agency has failed to act on his request to investigate

Published: Thursday, Nov. 22 2007 12:00 a.m. MST

ROOSEVELT — The decision to post a video of himself being shot with a Taser by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper on the Internet wasn't easy for Jared Massey, but he said Wednesday he felt it had to happen.
The motivation, according to the 28-year-old telephone company employee, was to have the UHP act on his 2-month-old request to have the incident investigated.

"There's been no response, no action, no notifying us 'Hey, we're looking at this,"' Massey said. "To us it seems like they're stonewalling it, trying to brush it under the rug so that nothing would happen.
"That's why we decided to take it to YouTube," Massey said of the edited 10-minute video clip captured by UHP trooper John Gardner's dashboard camera that documented Massey's arrest. "We thought it was kind of our civic duty to do this."
Massey said he and his wife were initially told by the secretary at the Vernal UHP office that they couldn't file a complaint against Gardner but eventually met with the trooper's supervisor just days after the incident. The couple has not yet returned the formal complaint form they were given, Massey said.
The Masseys, with the help of an attorney, also made a formal request for a copy of the video from Gardner's car; an audio copy of the trooper's radio traffic with dispatchers; and copies of any paperwork Gardner completed to document the incident.
So far, the couple said they have only received the video — which they had to have unscrambled by one of his co-workers to view — and the dispatch tape. The couple got a copy of Gardner's probable cause statement, which makes no mention of his use of a Taser, when they went to court. They said they have yet to receive the trooper's incident report. "They still haven't given us everything we've requested," Massey said.
Trooper Cameron Roden, a UHP spokesman, said Gardner did document his use of the Taser in his incident report.
"It's definitely in the report," Roden said. "In fact we have a separate Taser deployment form which is part of our form and he has filled it out."
Roden said the Masseys should have received a copy "as part of discovery." The highway patrol will not release the trooper's report on the incident to the public or the media though until an internal investigation is completed, Roden said.
Massey was pulled over Sept. 14 by Gardner on U.S. 40 outside Vernal on suspicion of speeding in a construction zone. During the emotionally charged encounter, Massey can be heard refusing to sign the speeding citation and arguing with Gardner about whether he was actually speeding.
"If you were able to look in his eyes and feel the body language, we thought, 'Geez, this guy is really mad over a speeding ticket,'" Massey said on Wednesday.
After Massey's repeated refusals to sign the citation unless he was allowed to show Gardner a nearby speed limit sign, the trooper ordered him out of his SUV.
"I get out of the car thinking he's going to actually let me see the signs. That was the impression I had," Massey said. "I'm walking back pointing at those signs and out of the corner of my eye I see him pointing a gun at me."
Gardner hadn't pulled his gun but had pulled his Taser, which he fired into Massey's back after Massey failed to comply with three additional commands to "turn around." On the video, Massey responds to the 50,000-volt shock by stiffening up and falling backward, cutting his head open on the highway.
"I'm laying on the ground thinking I'm dying," Massey said. "I can't put into words how horrifying that is."
Gardner gave Massey a second shock with the Taser when he did not immediately turn onto his stomach. He also can be heard on an unedited version of the video, provided to the Deseret Morning News by Massey, making an apparent threat to use the weapon again after Massey makes repeated demands that Gardner read him his Miranda rights.
"Do you want another hit with this," the trooper asks.
"No. I want you to read me my rights," Massey replies.
"I want you to follow my instructions and do as you're told," Gardner says.
Massey and his wife are still deciding whether they'll file a lawsuit against Gardner and the highway patrol. "We're looking at options — how can we solve this problem, how can we protect this from happening to someone else again — if it takes a lawsuit then I guess it does," he said. "We haven't made up our minds."
Roden said the public response to the video has been overwhelming.
"We're not actually taking a number, but we've received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls," he said.
Gardner remains on duty, and Roden said he is not aware of any past use of force complaints against the 14-year UHP veteran. The UHP's internal investigation has been expedited since the posting to the dash cam video on YouTube and is expected to be completed early next week.
For Massey, the media spotlight he and his family have been in for the past two days has not been enjoyable at all.
"Telling the story this week and publishing it has brought back horrific memories," he said. "I still don't like people knowing that this happened to me. I could do without my name being out there, without the attention. It's nothing that's excited me."

E-mail: geoff@ubstandard.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company