News Article Details

Graham police release video of officers using stun gun on teen with autism

Fort Worth Star-Telegram - 7/13/2018

July 13--Graham police used a stun gun twice on a 19-year-old in June after a report was made that he was throwing rocks into a neighbor's yard. They didn't tell his mom until the next day that her son was stunned, she told the Star-Telegram.

Police released body camera footage, 911 tapes, radio traffic and police reports from the incident after the Star-Telegram filed an open records request in early July.

Two officers were cleared of any wrongdoing.

The incident started when officers were dispatched to an alley in the 900 block of Texas regarding a teen -- identified as Michael Moore by family members.

The caller told dispatch "there is a boy that always throws rocks into our yard from the backyard but he kind of mess [sic] with the dogs, um, I don't know but he looks like a grown man but I don't know if he is all there."

She told dispatch that she wanted to talk to officers before they contacted Moore.

That information, along with her comment that she didn't "know if he is all there," wasn't given to officers, according to dispatch records obtained by the Star-Telegram.

Dispatchers sent Officer Olton Freeman to the call and only told him the "(reporting party) advised that there is a male subject back there throwing rocks at her house."

Freeman wrote in a report that Moore was breathing heavily, having difficulties focusing and acting paranoid. His mom told the Star-Telegram that it's difficult for Moore to communicate or make eye contact because he is autistic.

In the body camera footage, the officer asked Moore what his birthday is and asked what he was doing. Moore told him, "I'm just a normal kid" and said "it's not a big deal" multiple times.

Moore made comments about "saying I said quit" and "I'm saying give me your eyes." Freeman asked Moore what he meant by that, but Moore is unable to answer. The officer asked if Moore was under the influence. He said no.

Freeman said in his report that "based on my training and experience as a police officer I believed that Michael may have been under the influence of some type of narcotic."

He began a field sobriety test, without explaining to Moore what was happening. Moore asked, "I'm not under arrest, am I?"

About four minutes into the recording, and after Moore has difficulty multiple times following directions, Freeman said, "All right, you're not going to do it."

He told Moore to put his hands behind his back, and grabbed Moore's right arm. Moore turned his back away from Freeman, and a second officer, identified as Sgt. Pedro Marrufo, walked behind Moore and put his arms around Moore's waist, the video shows.

Marrufo then put both hands around Moore's neck, as Freeman grabbed Moore's right wrist, and cuffed him once. The officers and Moore struggle and all fall to the ground. The body camera falls off the officer and the only view is the sky, but audio continues.

Officers can be heard telling Moore, "Put your hands behind your back," "You're about to be tased," and "Don't pinch me."

Moore can be heard yelling, "Get off of me!" as a jailer who was riding along with Freeman walked into the frame to help.

It's at that point that a stun gun is used on Moore twice. Each stun lasted about five seconds, police said.

After he was detained, officers talked about what happened, and one noted that Moore "might be mental." They went to the house where Moore said he lived and talked with his mother, Tracie Moore, who confirmed he has autism.

In his report, Freeman said, "Michael was not displaying any signs of a mental disability during my initial contact with him." Marrufo also wrote that he believed Moore was under the influence.

Graham police said the Texas Rangers declined their request to investigate the incident.

"It is our opinion that our officer made a judgment call based on the limited information available, as the job forces them to do every day," the department posted on Facebook Thursday evening. " Based on the situation and presentation of Mr. Moore, the responding officer believed him to be under the influence of controlled substances. A reasonable officer could have made this determination. He then appropriately initiated procedures to determine intoxication."

The department said moving forward they will "use this opportunity to expand our awareness and ability to serve diverse residents within our community. While we currently meet all state mandated requirements for mental health training, we are actively pursuing opportunities to expand our training, and for direct engagement with all of our residents."

Nichole Manna: 817-390-7684, @NicholeManna

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(c)2018 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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