A review board now says that a Rehoboth Beach Police Officer did not use excessive force in an arrest caught on camera back in April.
On April 7, 34-year-old Jeremy Anderson of Mechanicsburg, Pa., was vacationing with his wife in Rehoboth Beach when he was tased and kicked by police officers.
Anderson claimed the entire ordeal started after he got into a verbal altercation with a hotel worker over a room key. Once police arrived, Anderson says they began to use a taser on him.
Warning: Strong language
“He tased me in the chest,” he said. “I fell to the ground and he shot me with a dart in the back. He tased me multiple times in the spine.”
Anderson’s wife, Candace Brubaker, soon arrived and turned on her cellphone camera while begging the officers to stop.
“I was horrified,” said Brubaker. “You hear me in the video, I was simply horrified.”
Anderson was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and offensive touching of law enforcement. He eventually pleaded guilty to the charges and received a year of probation. He also spent two nights in jail before Brubaker posted a $7,000 bond. Once he was released and returned home, Anderson said he was told by doctors that he suffered a concussion.
“I have severe head pain, severe back pain and my nerves were freaking shot,” said Anderson.
The couple demanded an apology from the city and the Rehoboth Police Department. They also wanted the officers seen in the video to be relieved of their duties.
“At this point it would not be fair to comment about what I think,” said Rehoboth Beach Police Chief Keith Banks back in April. “But we assure the Rehoboth Beach community that we take these things very seriously and every use of force will be followed up on."
Cpl. Robert Whitman, the officer seen on video tasering Anderson, was placed on administrative leave, as the Delaware Department of Justice conducted an internal investigation.
On Monday, Timothy Mullaney Sr., Chief of Staff for Delaware State Prosecutor Kathleen Jennings, sent a letter to Chief Banks, concluding that Whitman did not commit a criminal act in his arrest of Anderson.
"Whitman’s position as a police officer acting in the course of his duties requires consideration of 11 Del. C. § 467, which states, in part: the use of force upon or toward the person of another is justifiable when the defendant is making an arrest or assisting in making an arrest and believes that such force is immediately necessary to effect the arrest," wrote Mullaney.
According to Mullaney, the dispute began after Anderson entered the motel room and demanded a key to the room where Brubaker was staying. Investigators say the manager didn't know who Anderson was and told him that she could not give him a key, prompting Anderson to yell and curse at her. Investigators say Anderson continued to yell and curse at the manager, leading to housekeeping calling the police.
Investigators say the responding police officers seen in the video first tried to speak with Anderson who refused to talk with them. According to Mullaney, when the officers tried to detain Anderson, he struggled and began to wrestle with them. As the struggle continued, Mullaney says Cpl. Whitman tasered Anderson but it had little effect.
"Part of Anderson’s resisting included his attempt to bite Whitman. Whitman’s reaction was to kick Anderson to avoid being bitten," Mullaney wrote. "Whitman then placed his boot on Anderson’s head to prevent any further attempts at biting. Whitman’s actions were therefore justified under 11 Del. C. § 467 as well as 11 Del. C. § 464. Given the duration of the struggle between Anderson and police and their inability to arrest him despite the escalating use of physical force, Whitman reasonably believed that his actions were necessary to effect the arrest as well as protect himself from harm."
After Anderson was finally detained and placed in a police car, Mullaney said Anderson repeatedly banged his head against the glass shield separating the front and rear seats.
Mullaney wrote that a special investigator from the Department of Justice contacted and spoke with Anderson by phone to arrange an interview but that Anderson declined an interview request.
According to Mullaney, Cpl. Whitman was justified in his actions.
"After a thorough investigation and review of the evidence we have concluded that Cpl. Whitman’s actions when attempting to arrest Anderson were not criminal acts and are not subject to criminal prosecution under Delaware law."