State investigators determined a Florida Highway Patrol trooper who stun-gunned a man on the 18-Mile Stretch in February used excessive force.
It was not immediately clear what disciplinary measures, if any, Trooper Eloy Arias faces.
The case drew national attention because video shot by a witness, and posted online, shows Arias using his Taser stun gun on Marc Jonathan Freedman, 59, while Freedman had his hands in the air. He then dropped to the pavement screaming in pain. This happened in the afternoon of Feb. 14.
But the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Office of Inspector General wrote in a long-awaited report released Friday that Arias was justified in using his Taser on Freedman when he emerged from his minivan because he was not handcuffed yet, “which gave him the ability to physically threaten the members or others; or, is preparing or attempting to flee or escape.”
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However, Arias did use excessive force when he used his stun gun twice more when Freedman, from Marina Del Rey, Calif., was in handcuffs, according to the OIG report.
The excessive force complaint was filed by FHP Sgt. Pedro Reinoso, who was the on-call supervisor in Monroe County that day.
“Reinoso said that the most serious resistance offered by Freedman was active physical resistance, but mostly passive. Reinoso thought Arias and the other officers could have put Freedman in the patrol car without drive stunning him,” according to the OIG report.
“Drive stunning” means to use the Taser without shooting the usual barbed probes into the targeted person, but still shocking the person with electricity.