A Fredericksburg Police officer has resigned after an investigation determined his use of a Taser and pepper spray on a suspected hit-and-run driver was unwarranted. The whole incident was captured on the responding officers’ body cameras.
Investigators say on the afternoon of May 4, 34-year-old David Washington was driving a silver Hyundai the wrong way on Jefferson Davis Highway when he struck a Jeep and kept on going. The Hyundai had previously run over the median on Route 1 and also knocked down a city road sign.
A short time later, the Hyundai stopped at the intersection of Cowan Boulevard and Powhatan Street. The driver of the Jeep and a witness followed and remained on scene as Fredericksburg Police officers arrived to investigate.
The first two officers on the scene, Corporal Matt Deschenes and Sergeant Crystal Hill, held Washington at gunpoint and ordered him out of his car, but he did not comply. A few minutes later, a third officer, Shaun Jurgens, arrived on the scene. As the Hyundai driver remained unresponsive in his vehicle, Officer Jurgens used his Taser on the man in an effort to gain his compliance. One of the Taser prongs apparently did not make a proper connection and the Taser use was ineffective. Jurgens then used pepper spray on Washington, and he then removed the driver from the car, with the help of Corporal Deschenes.
An ambulance was called to the scene to treat Washington for the pepper spraying and to remove the Taser prong still attached to his skin. Washington was transported to Mary Washington Hospital, where it was discovered that he was experiencing a medical emergency that had begun at some point in the preceding hours.
An investigation was then opened to determine if the use of force was necessary. That investigation determined that in this instance, the officer using the Taser and pepper spray was not appropriate.
Officer Jurgens resigned from the Fredericksburg Police Department on May 14.
“The use of force demonstrated in the incident involving Mr. Washington was not in compliance with department policy or training,” said Captain Rick Pennock in a statement. “We take matters such as these very seriously and require that officers at all times exercise appropriate restraint and good judgment in their dealings with citizens.”
Meanwhile, charges are pending against Washington for hit and run with property damage, reckless driving, and driving on a revoked or suspended license (third or subsequent offense).
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