The Sioux City police officer seen aiming a Taser at a Black customer at a Perkins restaurant late last month has a history of involvement in use of force incidents.
More than 5,000 people have signed a petition calling for Officer Thad Boyer to be removed from duty, as the officer rehired in 2019 after brutally beating a man in 2004 was captured pushing a Black man into a table and threatening to Tase him at a Perkins restaurant on April 29.
Footage of the encounter was shared widely on social media, and shows Boyer confronting the customer, identified as 29-year-old John Wright.
The one-minute clip taken by a bystander captures a portion of the confrontation between Boyer and Wright. Body camera footage released by the Sioux City Police Department shows what led up to the encounter.
Body camera footage (2nd video below) shows that officers initially arrived at the scene in response to a report about a fight and a woman who was acting “belligerent.” The woman who spoke to police is clearly heard saying the woman started the fight with another customer.
Wright can be heard in the background saying he will leave if he is the problem, and someone else responds saying he isn’t the issue.
Boyer then approached the woman, and told her management was requesting that she leave the premises. “They’re saying you’re being belligerent and they’re asking you to go right now,” Boyer said.
After Boyer led the woman outside and filled out a report, he went back inside the restaurant.
He told Wright he needed to “be nice to the staff.”
Wright replied, “I am nice.”
“No you’re not,” Boyer said.
As Boyer began to get information from the woman who called the police, the confrontation with Wright heated up.
“Hey, listen, buddy, do you wanna leave right now?” Boyer asked as he appeared to have an issue with Wright using profanity in the restaurant. In response, Wright apparently challenged Boyer to put his hands on him again.
Boyer then told Wright he had to leave. “All right, you’re gonna go to jail if you don’t stand up and leave,” he said.
Seconds after Wright gets up to leave and grabs his jacket, Boyer grabs Wright’s arm and a struggle began. “Hey! Hey! I’m leaving! I’m leaving! This is dangerous! This is dangerous!,” yells Wright as the officer pushes him into a nearby table. When Boyer’s body camera fell to the ground, Wright picked it up in an attempt to give it back.
As Wright held the camera up yelling “here, here”, Boyer could be seen aiming the Taser at him.
“He didn’t do nothing wrong!” a bystander said. “That man ain’t do nothing to you, put your Taser down!”
A press release stated that the taser was raised as a “method to dissuade Wright from active aggression and to overcome his active resistance to his arrest.”
More footage taken by bystanders shows Wright being led out of the restaurant in handcuffs and into a squad car. Onlookers verbally protested the way Wright was treated.
Wright was been charged with trespassing, interference with official acts, and failure to comply with orders of a peace officer
Sgt. Jeremy McClure, the department’s Community Policing Sergeant, told Starting Line that the incident is being investigated. “The officer’s actions are still under review by the department,” he said.
Boyer was rehired in 2019 after being involved in a use of force incident more than 16 years ago, when he brutally beat Nic Korleski.
Jackson Greer, a friend of Korleski, questioned last year when community activists were fighting for the police department to purchase body cameras why Boyer was rehired on Nov. 20, 2019 despite his “checkered past.”
“This same officer that did this, he’s now been rehired back and we feel that it’s unjust,” Greer said. “There was an incident with my friend. My friend ended up in a coma. He had stitches in his eyes, stitches in his lips, his mouth. His face was just completely just huge — I mean unrecognizable.”
According to a petition dedicated to gettimg Boyer removed from his position, Korleski ran after being pulled over for driving without a license in 2004.
“After running for some time Nic realized he was wrong and stopped, got on his knees and put his hands behind his head,” the petition says.
“The next thing Nic knew he was getting kicked in the face.”
In December, all Sioux City officers became equipped with body cameras.