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As is so often the case, there is no underlying charge here. Concerned that uniformed thugs are brutalizing someone and dare to make noise about it? Well, that’s “interfering with police duties”. Twitch a little when 50,000 volts is zapped through your body and when you’re already incapacitated by pepper spray? “Resisting arrest”. Moss Point is being protected and served so nicely…
From The Mississippi Press:
Taser incident being probed
23 May 2008
MOSS POINT — The Moss Point Police Department is investigating an incident in which a Moss Point police officer allegedly subdued Otis Ashford in the home of his sister last month with volts of electricity from a Taser gun, Interim Police Chief Frederick Gaston confirmed Thursday.
Ashford was arrested for interfering with police duties and resisting arrest on April 18. He said his court date has been set for June 10.
Curley Clark, president of the Jackson County chapter of the NAACP, said the organization is conducting its own investigation.
According to Ashford, he was watching television with his sister Dell Jones at her house on Westpine Street when they heard a disturbance in the front yard.
“We went out to see what was going on and this man started yelling to get back in the house,” Ashford explained. “At that point, I was just on the screened-in porch. So, we were really still in the house.”
Ashford said he and his sister were concerned their younger brother was being attacked and started calling his name.
“The man on top of the other man never said he was a police officer,” Jones said. “We didn’t know that until he picked the other guy up and took him away. When he stepped into the light, we could see he was an officer. He then started screaming he was coming back to get us.”
Ashford said as the officer disappeared into the night and they thought the incident was over.
“Then he came back, he busted through the screen door and just came at us,” Ashford said. “He was like a mad man. We never even left the porch. He kept saying he was getting me for interfering, but I never got off the porch. How could we interfere?”
Ashford said the officer, who he identified as Johnny Vaughn, pushed him against the wall and doused him and Jones with pepper spray.
“It was everywhere,” Jones said “All over us and all in the house. There was no sense in it.”
According to Ashford, another Moss Point officer arrived and Vaughn ordered him to use the Taser gun.
“He hit me with it probably eight times,” Ashford said as he raised his shirt and showed scars from the Taser’s barbs.
“And that right there,” Jones said as she pointed to a large white scar about the size of a half-dollar on her brother’s back, “that was where they held it on him.”
Ashford and Jones claimed the officer took a barb that wasn’t attached to Ashford and held it in one spot for several seconds, shocking him until he was unconscious.
“I don’t remember nothing after that,” Ashford said.
Jones said she called the police to come and direct the “out-of-control officers.”
“They were killing him,” Jones said, “and they would not stop.”
Their mother, Lillie Ashford, entered the house and watched her son being subdued by police and her daughter passing out.
Lillie Ashford said her son was dragged out of the house by the officers and thrown into a patrol car.
“There was an ambulance right there,” she said. “I begged them to take him to the hospital. I thought they had killed him.”
Lillie Ashford said the officers refused and took her son to jail.
Otis Ashford’s wife, Rosa, said it was at least three hours before her husband received medical treatment.
“When they finally let me see him, he was on a stretcher in the police station,” she said. “They said his heart rate was 179 and his pupils were dilated. They kept asking me what he was on and I told them he doesn’t do drugs.”
Otis Ashford said that when he awoke hospital technicians performed a drug screen test on him and it came back clean. He said he bonded out from the hospital after being kept for two days.
Otis Ashford said FBI Agent Robert Lambert told him the FBI has launched an investigation, but Gaston could not confirm his comments.
See also the SunHerald story.
Hat tip: The Spook at The Brown Watch