Three police officers, including the deputy chief, have been suspended and a state of emergency declared in the tiny borough of Colwyn, Delaware County, following an investigation into why a restrained teenager in custody was Tasered and the incident allegedly covered up.
Mayor Dan Rutland confirmed earlier this week that an officer, Corporal Trevor Parham, is under investigation for allegedly using a Taser on a teenage suspect, identified as Da-Qwaun Jackson, 17, while he was handcuffed and in police custody on April 24. Parham has been relieved of his badge and gun pending further investigation. The incident happened inside the borough police station’s detention area, and there were concerns that the officers involved were trying to cover it up.
Also suspended were Deputy Chief Wendell Reed and Officer Michel Drucker. The state of emergency was declared because of the shortage of officers.
“If for some reason an individual is not complying while in police custody or becoming violent and aggressive, there’s many options you can use to subdue them,” Reed said in an earlier published report. “The Taser is one of those less-than-lethal options.”
So far, three of the Colwyn Police Department’s 14 officers have been placed on suspension following the incident. According to Mayor Rutland, none of the remaining 10 on the job was a trained supervisor and he had to reinstate Lt. Wesley Seitz, whom the Borough Council had earlier suspended. Seitz had nothing to do with the tasering, and actually informed the mayor about it. The mayor said he was not notified of the incident until he inquired about it five days later.
According to reports, on April 24, Jackson was brought in for questioning following a fight and was allegedly uncooperative with authorities. He declined to give his name to Parham, who gave him a citation for disorderly conduct, which Jackson threw on the ground. According to reports, Parham took him into custody and while Jackson was handcuffed and his legs shackled, he kicked the holding cell bars. At that point, Parham allegedly used his Taser on the teen.
Rutland did not return phone calls from the Tribune by press time, but in a published report said that he was very disturbed by what happened.
“I should have been informed, not kept in the dark,” he said. “It’s disturbing to me. It’s not the way you run a department.”