ROOSEVELT A Utah Highway Patrol trooper's conduct during a Sept. 14 traffic stop in Uintah County is being called into question after a video of the stop was posted on the Internet.
The video, filmed from the dashboard camera of UHP trooper John Gardner's car, shows the trooper pulling over 28-year-old Jared Massey on U.S. 40 west of Vernal for allegedly speeding in a construction zone.
It was posted on the YouTube Web site on Monday.
UHP officials were unsure Tuesday how the tape became public. Massey could have filed an open records request for the tape or his attorney could have asked for it as part of filing a lawsuit, said UHP spokesman Cameron Roden.
The nearly 10-minute video clip, which has drawn nothing but negative comments toward the trooper on YouTube, shows Gardner approaching Massey's SUV and asking for his driver's license and registration. Massey asks how fast he was going, which prompts Gardner to repeat his request.
"I need your driver's license and registration right now," the trooper says.
Massey continues to question Gardner about the posted speed limit and how fast he was going but hands over his papers. The trooper walks back to his car.
Gardner returns to the SUV and tells Massey he's being cited for speeding. On the video, Massey can be heard refusing to sign the ticket and demanding that the trooper take him back and show him the 40 mph speed limit sign.
"What you're going to do if you're giving me a ticket in the first place, you're going to tell me why ... " Massey says.
"For speeding," the trooper interjects.
" ... and second of all we're going to go look for that 40 mph sign," Massey says.
"Well you're going to sign this first," Gardner says.
"No I am not. I'm not signing anything." Massey says.
Gardner tells Massey to "hop out of the car," then walks back to the hood of his patrol car, setting down his ticket book. Massey is close behind the trooper pointing toward the 40 mph speed limit sign he'd passed just before being pulled over.
"Turn around. Put your hands behind your back," Gardner says. He repeats the command a second time as he draws his Taser and takes a step back.
The trooper points the Taser at Massey who stares incredulously at him.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Massey asks.
Gardner repeats the command to "turn around" two more times as Massey, with part of his right hand in his pants pocket, starts to walk back toward his SUV.
"What the heck's wrong with you?" Massey can be heard asking as Gardner fires his Taser into Massey's back. Immobilized by the weapon's 50,000 volts, Massey falls backward, striking his head on the highway. The impact caused a cut on Massey's scalp.
Massey's wife Lauren, who was seven months pregnant at the time, gets out of the SUV screaming and is ordered to get back in the vehicle or risk being arrested. Gardner handcuffs Massey and leaves him on the side of the highway while he goes to talk to Massey's wife.
"He's fine. I Tasered him because he did not follow my instructions," Gardner explains to the audibly upset woman.
"You had no right to do that!" she responds. "You had no right to do that!"
While Gardner is still talking to Lauren Massey, her husband gets to his feet and approaches the trooper from behind. Gardner takes the handcuffed man back toward his patrol car and again orders Lauren Massey to stay in her vehicle or risk being arrested.
"Officer you're a little bit excited. You need to calm yourself down," Jared Massey tells Gardner before being put into the trooper's patrol car where he continues to demand an explanation for his arrest.
When a backup officer arrives on the scene and asks Gardner what happened he tells them Massey "took a ride with the Taser."
"Oh, how was it?" the unidentified officer asks.
"Painful, isn't it?" Gardner responds.
A UHP spokesman said late Tuesday afternoon that the agency was not yet ready to issue a statement on the video.
Roden said an investigation into the trooper's conduct was being expedited. Officials hope to have it completed by early next week, he said.
Gardner had not been suspended Tuesday and was working his usual shifts.
UHP policy says one of three situations can warrant Taser deployment, according to Roden. First, a person could be threatening himself, others or an officer; second, the use of more force would endanger people; or third, other means of control have proved insufficient.
The Masseys declined a request Tuesday for an interview until they could speak with their attorney. Jared Massey is still fighting the speeding charge in Uintah County Justice Court. A trial is set for Jan. 12.By late Tuesday, no civil complaints against Gardner or highway patrol had been filed.
Contributing: Rebecca Palmer
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