(LANCASTER, Penn.) — The 27-year-old Lancaster, Pennsylvania, man shot in the back with a Taser as he sat on the curb said the incident wasn’t racially motivated — it was caused by incompetence.
“I don’t believe it was driven by race. It was driven by the fact of the matter that the police were not doing their job right,” Sean Williams told Good Morning America. “At the end of the day, I followed every directive that was given to me. And I feel as though no matter what race you are, what color you are, what background you are, that should not be done to you as a man or as a woman or whoever you are. Nobody should be Tased in the back in a situation where they’re not doing nothing wrong.”
Dozens of protesters gathered at an old courthouse on Friday evening, a day after video of Williams’ encounter was posted on social media. He declined to speak to the media at that time.
Footage shows multiple officers barking commands at him as he sits on a curb. He is unarmed.
A male officer, holding a Taser, can be heard saying, “Legs straight out or you’re getting Tased.”
A female officer yells, “Put your legs straight out and cross them now.”
Then there are repeated calls for Williams to put his legs “straight out” in front of him.
It appears Williams is complying as the male officer shoots him in the back.
Williams writhes around on the ground. More officers arrive. Williams is handcuffed.
Police later learned that Williams had an outstanding warrant for possession of a controlled substance and public drunkenness. He was later released on $5,000 bail. According to the police report, officers pursued Williams after a 911 call received on Thursday morning that said a man “with a bat” went after a group of three people.
The group that apparently told Williams to go away said to police that he “had been exhibiting increasing erratic behavior over the previous few days” and wanted to fight them earlier. But they didn’t say that Williams had a bat. No bat was found at the scene.
Lancaster Police Officer Shannon Mazzante, according to the police report, arrived at the scene and saw three individuals “telling a male to get away from them.”
Lancaster Police Officer Philip Bernot, according to the police report, only used his Taser after Williams “failed to follow instructions.”
Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace said an investigation into the incident is underway. In a video posted to her Facebook page, she said, “Like you, when I saw the video, I was upset by it, and it is of great concern to me.”
Williams said he still feels pain throughout his back, neck, shoulders and head since being shot with the Taser.
Brian Mildenberg, Williams’ attorney, said any lawsuit filed will have two main objectives.
“Objective one,” Mildenberg said, “is remedy for Sean, the individual, for the pain he suffered and continues to suffer, for being traumatized, for being subjected to excessive force. He deserves personal justice and remedy. The second objective is to ensure that this doesn’t happen again in the city of Lancaster.”
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