An edited surveillance video of a police officer firing a Taser at a 14-year-old girl was released as part of evidence for a federal lawsuit filed against the officer and the city of Allentown.
The incident happened back on Sept. 29 outside of Dieruff High School. The video first shows Keshana Wilson, 14, walking towards a car on the street with two friends on the 800 block of Washington Street before turning to talk to another group of students, according to the Morning Call.
The video then abruptly cuts to Allentown Police Officer Jason Ammary struggling with Wilson on the side of a parked car. Ammary appears to be shoving Wilson against the car. She then appears to push her forearm against his face.
Ammary then steps back and fires his Taser at Wilson’s groin, causing her to collapse to the ground. Several security officers then arrive. One can be seen leading a teen boy away in handcuffs.
The Morning Call reports Wilson was taken to the hospital to have probes from the Taser removed.
The teen then spent 21 days in juvenile detention charged with aggravated assault on the officer, simple assault, riot charges and resisting arrest. In juvenile court she was found not guilty of the most serious assault and riot charges but was found guilty of disorderly conduct and being a pedestrian on the highway.
Attorney Richard J. Orloski filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of Wilson’s mother, Victoria Geist. The suit claims the officer used excessive force against the teen girl.
"Tasing can be lethal, people die from Tasing," said Orloski.
Credit: Lehigh Valley Ramblings
One minute and 40 seconds worth of video is missing, according to the lawsuit. The video does not show the confrontation between the officer and the girl nor what prompted it. The Morning Call reports that the lawsuit and the Allentown Police Department gave different accounts.
The lawsuit claims the girl did nothing to provoke the officer. Orloski says Ammary grabbed Wilson from behind without identifying himself and violently pushed her into the car. Orloski also says Ammary made insulting remarks about the girl’s “socioeconomic status.”
"She said that she did not strike this officer, that he choked her," said Geist. "She said that she was unable to breathe."
Allentown Police claim Wilson was cursing and inciting a group of people. They say that she then twisted away from the officer when he went in to arrest her for disorderly conduct. Ammary leaned her against the trunk of the car to place handcuffs on her but she continued to resist and elbowed him in the chin, according to police.
Police determined the Taser was used appropriately, officials said.
The Morning Call reports that Allentown Assistant Police Chief Joseph Hanna claimed the officer was justified in using the Taser because of the "use-of-force continuum."
The continuum is a standard that gives law enforcement officials guidelines regarding how much force may be used against a resisting subject in a given situation. According to the Morning Call, the continuum allows officers to use non-lethal means to restrain and control an active resister after their presence and verbal commands fail. These non-lethal means include pepper spray, hands, baton or the Taser. Hanna told the Morning Call that Wilson was considered a mid-level assailant and active resister and was likely to injure herself or the officer.
Hanna also claimed that officers are trained to use the justified amount of force dictated by the actions of the resister, not their age or gender, according to the Morning Call.
According to the lawsuit, the police report claims Ammary aimed his weapon lower because Wilson was using her backpack to block the Taser. The video shows Wilson’s upper body exposed however. The suit also says the police report claims hundreds of students were blocking traffic at the time of the incident. The video only shows a small number of students on the street however.
No word yet on Ammary’s status with the police department.
Neither Ammary nor the city solicitor returned NBC10's calls for comment.