TAYLORSVILLE The Utah Department of Public Safety has concluded that a Utah Highway Patrol trooper who pulled a Taser on a motorist during a traffic stop was justified.
The dash-cam video of the incident became an Internet sensation after it was posted on YouTube.
"Based on our review to this point, there are three main issues we are addressing," UHP Col. Lance Davenport said Friday. "First, a communication breakdown between Trooper Jon Gardner and Mr. Massey. Second, a delay in the investigative process of this incident. Third, the use of a Taser."
The Utah Attorney General's Office has been asked to conduct a probe to see if any criminal violations occurred. The Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council also may be involved, DPS officials said.
Gardner has been placed on paid administrative leave over death threats that were posted against the trooper's life on the Internet.
On Sept. 14, Jared Massey, 28, was pulled over on U.S. 40 near Vernal for speeding. He refused to sign a citation and argued with the trooper, who ordered him out of his car. As Massey walked toward a speed-limit sign, Trooper Jon Gardner pulled his Taser and ordered the man to put his hands behind his back.
In the video, Gardner repeats the command, and Massey starts to walk back to his SUV.
"What the heck's wrong with you?" Massey asks as Gardner fires the Taser into the man's back, causing him to stiffen then fall backward, screaming in pain. The dash-cam video of the traffic stop was posted on YouTube by Massey, who complained the UHP took too long to respond to his complaint about the trooper's conduct.
"We have heard from hundreds of people across the country and the world with the Internet the way it is," said DPS Commissioner Scott Duncan.
Duncan said that was when DPS brass first became aware of the incident and ordered an internal affairs investigation.
On the Internet, the YouTube video has taken on a life of its own, being viewed more than 1 million times. It has prompted a flood of angry comments, complaints and even death threats against the trooper and Massey. DPS investigators said they are conducting a separate inquiry into those threats.
Massey has said he is considering a lawsuit against the UHP.