Thursday, July 15, 2010
Janice Wells called the Richland Police Department when she feared a prowler was outside her clapboard house in the rural west Georgia town.
The third-grade teacher had phoned for help. But within minutes of an officer coming to her backdoor, she was screaming in pain and begging not to be shocked again with a Taser. With each scream and cry, the officer threatened her with more shocks.
"All of it's just unreal to me. I was scared to death," Wells said . "He kept tasing me and tasing me. My fingernails are still burned. My leg, back and my butt had a long scar on it for days."
The officer in question is Ryan Smith of the Lumpkin Police Department. Smith was called to back up an officer from the Richland Police Department because the sheriff's office in the county, Stewart, had no deputies to send.
Smith resigned as a result of the incident. The other officer involved, Tim Murphy of Richland PD, was fired for using pepper spray while trying to arrest Wells.
Wells is considering filing a lawsuit, according to her attorney,.
The details of the altercation between Wells and the officers have been fodder discussions in the two towns, which are only 10 miles apart. Some have speculated there was a racial component to the altercation between Wells and the policemen; Wells is black and the officers are white.
Stewart County Sheriff Larry Jones, who came to the house seconds after the last electric shock was administered, suspects the outcome would have been different if the woman had been white and the officers black.
"I don't think they would have done a white female like that," said Jones, who is black. "If they had, it wouldn't have been any doubt about whether they need to be terminated."