A white police officer in Tallahassee, Florida, has been suspended and placed on paid administrative leave after a Tuesday incident in which the officer, named Terry Mahan, tasered a Black woman in the back. The scene took place in a predominantly Black neighborhood and was captured on video by someone standing on a nearby porch.
In a news conference Wednesday, Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo said officers were responding to drug complaints in the neighborhood Tuesday around 5:22 p.m. and placed three suspects into custody when 61-year-old Viola Young approached one of the officers asking about an individual who was arrested. “The officers advised her to stay away … and a second officer approached Ms. Young and attempted to place her under arrest,” DeLeo said Wednesday. “[Officer Mahan] then deployed his taser, striking her in the back.”
Young was charged with resisting arrest without violence.
DeLeo said he has enough concerns about the incident to call for an investigation and stated that he personally placed Mahan on administrative leave.
The head of the local NAACP chapter, Dale Landry, who has a background in law enforcement, told The Tallahassee Democrat that he would like more information on the case. “The issue that really bothers me as I look at that, is it clearly looks like … the officer lost control,” Landry said, adding, “It really concerned me, especially as that lady turned around and walked away and then she got tasered, she hadn’t done anything.”
The issue of race cannot be ignored in this case, Landry insisted, especially in the wake of protests associated with the shooting death of unarmed Black teen Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in August. Landry said he hopes the charges against Young will be dropped.
It is yet unknown whether Young intends to sue the police department over the incident.
In what he’s calling an effort to be “transparent with the community,” DeLeo released the video footage of the incident, which includes coarse language, uploading it to YouTube.