Tasing by Waynesboro officer leads to investigation
WAYNESBORO, MS (WDAM) - Video posted on social media, shows a man tased by an officer at a gas station in Waynesboro Tuesday. That man is 18-year-old Gage Cason.
The officer is James Kirkley, who WDAM 7 News spoke with by phone.
“I did my job like I was trained to do and I did nothing wrong in my mind,” said Kirkley.
It all started after Kirkley says he pulled Cason over for a noise violation because of the pipes on his truck.
“All he had to do was comply and walk back and got a ticket and been on his way” said Kirkley.
That’s not how it ends though. In the video, Cason appears to hand the officer his license. Eight seconds later Cason is tased after turning away.
“It made me angry,” said Cason’s mom after seeing the video for the first time.
News 7 spoke with Cason and his mom who asked her first name not be used. She says her son did nothing to warrant being tased.
“Anybody can look at the video and see that he did not disrespect the cop,” said Cason’s mom.
With Cason on the ground, the video appears to show Kirkley handcuff him, then pull the prongs from the Taser out of his back. Kirkley then appears to help Cason up, before pushing him against the truck, placing his hands near Cason’s neck, all while Cason is still handcuffed.
“I grabbed him by his collar, both his collars on each side and told him, 'You don’t want to go this way. You don’t want to do this,’” said Kirkley.
Cason spent a couple hours in jail, charged with disorderly conduct, failure to comply, failure to yield, unreasonable noise and resisting or obstructing arrest.
“It’s hard to make a judgment just yet.” said Police Chief Holt Ross when asked whether proper protocol was followed.
Chief Ross wouldn’t confirm whether Kirkley is the officer in the video but says his department is now investigating what happened and whether the officer was justified in using that taser. Ross says he has seen the officer’s body cam video, but the body camera wasn’t recording the entire time.
“From about the time the officer reaches down and picks the young man up, that’s where his video starts,” said Ross.
That goes against department policy which Chief Ross says states body cam video should start when an officer gets out of the car. According to city records, Kirkley was hired in October 2014, before Chief Ross was in charge. This isn’t the first time Kirkley has been under the microscope of the department.
“We’ve had complaints, mostly concerning his tact with people that he has pulled over for certain violations,” said Ross.
News 7 uncovered Kirkley has also worked at Sandersville, Shubuta and Laurel. Chief Ross says outside of some traffic violations, Cason has no criminal history with the department and past complaints against Kirkley haven’t led to any major findings. With this video though, Ross says the department is taking it seriously.
“We’re going to make a full, thorough investigation and whichever way that leads us, that’s the way we’re going to go,” said Ross.
As the department investigates one of it’s own, Cason’s mom wants swift action.
“I want to see that officer terminated immediately and permanently, not just to go to another town or another city,” said Cason’s mom.
Officer Kirkley is on paid administrative leave while this investigation plays out. Kirkley told News 7 he will only resign if told his options were resigning or being fired. Cason’s family is considering legal action.
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