Police taser handcuffed suspect
Payson Roundup | June 22, 2005
A man who fired three shots was pursued by town officers and sheriff's deputies, and subdued with a taser gun Sunday afternoon. An eyewitness, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the use of force on 31-year-old Roy McMillen of Payson seemed excessive.
According to the witness, Payson Police officer Joni Varga discharged her taser at McMillen, who at the time was handcuffed, standing, and not physically threatening any of the four law enforcement officers surrounding him.
Police reports said Varga used the taser after McMillen turned "aggressive and was jerking away."
Not so, said the eyewitness, "he was just standing there.
"The man was shifting a bit on his feet," said the witness. "He was trying to keep his balance. All of a sudden I saw two long curly wires shoot out from the direction of the officers and hit the man. His body arched up in the air like a fish on the end of a line and dropped to the ground."
The witness also said McMillen was loud and boisterous, "I couldn't tell what he was saying, but he was yelling and probably drunk or drugged out."
According to police Commander Don Engler, all taser deployments are investigated.
"Our policy is to review and report on every major use of force," he said.
Engler said department policy permits the use of a taser on a handcuffed suspect if the person represents a threat to the officer.
The sheriff's office, which responded to the initial call made outside the town limits, reported that Varga used the taser gun on McMillen "for noncompliance."
But the witness said McMillen seemed cooperative.
"Why did they use (the taser)?" she said. "He was handcuffed and there were four officers. He wasn't going any place."
The eyewitness snapped five pictures of the incident, but did not catch the officers using the taser gun.
Before the taser
According to police reports, the altercation began earlier in the day after McMillen was involved in a confrontation north of town.
"We received reports he fired three shots from a 9mm automatic (gun) in the air," Gila County Detective George Ratliff said. "Our officers got there, but he had left the area.
An "attempt to locate" call was immediately broadcast to all law enforcement agencies in the area.
Reports say Gila County Sheriff's deputies and Payson Police Department officers heard the call and spotted McMillen driving his primer-gray truck near Airport Road and Beeline Highway.
When officers attempted to pull McMillen over, he refused to stop. "He disregarded their lights and sirens and continued on about a half to a quarter of a mile," Engler said.
McMillen eventually stopped in the driveway of a house on Johnson Street in Payson Ranchos.
"I've seen (McMillen) at the house before," the witness said.
After the suspect stopped, officers drew their guns and ordered him out of the truck.
"He had a gun under the seat," Ratliff said. "And was driving on a suspended license."
McMillen was handcuffed by the officers and seated on the ground near the open driver-side door of the pickup.
According to police reports, when officers tried to place McMillen in the police car, he became combative. That's when Varga used the taser.
Ratliff said Payson officers took McMillen to Payson Regional Medical Center, but he refused medical attention.
After being jailed in Payson, officers obtained a search warrant for a blood sample from the suspect.
"Even then he was not cooperative," Ratliff said.
McMillen has been transferred to the Gila County Jail in Globe and charged with aggravated assault, aggravated DUI, weapons violations, endangerment, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and disorderly conduct.
According to Engler, an additional charge of felony flight could soon be added.