A 17-year-old boy went into a coma and is in critical condition after a Missouri police officer Tasered him into compliance during a routine traffic stop.
The FBI has been called on to investigate the incident following the issuance of police statements which conflict with eyewitness testimony and video of the arrest.
On Sunday afternoon, Independence Police Officer Tim Runnels ran Kansas City teen Bryce Masters’ plates and discovered a warrant violation.
When the officer approached Masters’ car, police say he refused to roll down the vehicle’s window. A friend told news outlets Masters would have been unable to roll down the window due to a mechanical malfunction.
The officer then opened Masters’ door and reportedly ordered him out of the vehicle, a request they say Masters did not oblige. The officer then proceeded to Taser the teen inside of his vehicle.
“The driver still refused to roll down the window…The officer was able to get the door open. The driver refused to get out of the vehicle. A struggle ensued, a taser was employed by the officer,” according to a statement from Independence Police Sgt. Darrell Schmidli.
“The confrontation continued outside the car and both Masters and Runnels fell to the ground,” reports the Associated Press, adding that “Masters then suffered a ‘medical emergency’ and needed resuscitation, prompting a call for an ambulance, police said.” Masters’ brother Colin told KSHB his family believes he “may have stopped breathing for more than five minutes.”
Witnesses say they heard the teen scream, then watched in horror as “the officer dragged Masters from his car, handcuffed him and didn’t break his fall — leading him to hit his face on the concrete,” according to New York Daily News.
“His head hit the pavement in the driveway,” another witness told the Kansas City Star. “I was horrified of the whole situation and the way it all came down.”
After Masters’ head slammed against the pavement, witnesses say his body went into convulsions as the officer pressed his boot on him “as if to put out a cigarette butt,” describes KMBZ.
“Several times, the cop put his foot on the kid like he was stepping on his neck, but it was on his back,” witness Robert Baker stated. “I think (the officer) was wrong, because the kid tried to explain to him that his window won’t roll down.”
A statement released by Masters’ family says they requested an external investigation after “significant inconsistencies” between witness and police accounts became apparent.
“Because of significant inconsistencies between public statements made by the Independence Police Department and information made available to the family in the form of statements of eyewitnesses and video and audio footage of the occurrence, the family has asked the United States Department of Justice to conduct its own investigation into these tragic events.”
“Bryce is the most nonaggressive kid that I know,” said Masters’ friend David Martes. “This was just uncalled for.”
“Masters is the son of a Kansas City police officer,” reports the Associated Press, however, the Independence Police Department says they would have conducted “a thorough investigation, regardless of who the parents are.”
Runnels has been an officer with Independence PD for three years, and is currently on administrative leave pending the outcome of the federal investigation.