Mayor Of Colwyn Declares State Of Emergency After 3 Officers Suspended Due To Stun Gun Incident
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By Elizabeth Hur
COLWYN, Pa. (CBS) — The Mayor of Colwyn declared a State of Emergency Wednesday night, and that’s not the only development in the investigation into why police tasered a teen who was in custody.
The Colwyn Police Department has 14 officers on the force, but the tasering incident resulted in suspensions, leaving just 10 on the job.
According to Mayor Daniel Rutland, not one of the remaining 10 on the job was a trained supervisor who can run a police department. Thus, late Wednesday night, he told reporters he was forced to reinstate a Lieutenant the Borough Council had suspended earlier in the evening.
There was no comment from council members as they left an emergency personnel meeting, but Mayor Rutland felt the public had the right to know what was discussed behind closed doors.
Rutland explained, “We’ve taken another officer off the schedule. Council made that decision.”
That meant, as of early Wednesday evening, the total number of Colwyn police officers on paid leave was four.
“I don’t like it. I believe it’s wrong,” Rutland added.
The suspensions, according to Rutland, are the direct result of what happened to 17-year-old Da’Qwaun Jackson.
“He tasered me once, and he tasered me once on my left arm,” Jackson said.
Jackson says the officer shocked him when he was brought in for questioning as a witness to a fight. Jackson says it happened inside a holding cell when his hands and ankles were shackled and he posed no threat to the officer.
“He had no right tasering me, but at the same time, I don’t wish it upon nobody, for them to lose their jobs and career,” Jackson added.
Jackson says he was tasered on April 24th. The mayor says he was not notified of the incident until he inquired about it five days later on April 29th. The reason why–in addition to a criminal investigation into the actual tasering–we’re told an independent counsel was brought in to look into the mishandling of the reporting of the incident.
While authorities have not identified the three officers suspended initially as part of the criminal investigation, it is believed to be the officer who allegedly pulled the trigger, a second officer who reportedly witnessed the incident, and the department’s Deputy Chief, whose badge and service weapon were confiscated on Wednesday. According to sources, the fourth officer suspended by the Council is the whistle blower who let the Mayor in on the tasering incident.
Late Wednesday night, Mayor Rutland provided reporters with a letter explaining why the State of Emergency was necessary. In the letter, he also identified the suspended supervisor as Lt. Wesley Seitz. The letter went onto read:
“Lieutenant Wesley Seitz is not under investigation by the Delaware County District Attorney’s Special Prosecution Unit and is guaranteed protection under the Pennsylvania Whistleblower’s Act Title 43 Section 1412 and is the senior officer in charge of the Colwyn Police Department.. Therefore, be it proclaimed that on May 2, 2012, a State of Emergency exists in the Borough of Colwyn that requires Lt. Wesley Seitz to be on duty, in full uniform and in the position of Lieutenant in Charge of the Colwyn Police Department until further notice by the Mayor.”
The Council will meet again Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. The public is invited.