Bucks D.A.: No police misconduct in stun-gunning teen

BEN FINLEY / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER David Heckler, District Attorney for Bucks County, says he puts no blame on Tullytown police for 14-year-old Joseph Williams' injuries.
BEN FINLEY / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER David Heckler, District Attorney for Bucks County, says he puts no blame on Tullytown police for 14-year-old Joseph Williams' injuries.
Posted: December 13, 2013

POLICE IN A Bucks County town acted appropriately when they stun-gunned a handcuffed teen fleeing arrest, prosecutors announced yesterday.

Joseph Williams, 14, was handcuffed on suspicion of shoplifting and was fleeing arrest on foot when Tullytown cops shot him with a stun gun last month. His scraped-up mug made the rounds on social-media networks after his mother blamed his injuries on a police thrashing.

Police maintained that the ninth-grader's face-first fall caused all the damage, including a broken nose. Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler agreed, saying yesterday that no misconduct charges would be filed against department officers.

Four witnesses described watching Williams break away from police as they were dealing with his alleged adult accomplice, and hearing police order him to stop before firing the stun gun, said Heckler.

"They said [Williams] looked back and yelled, 'You can't Tase me, I'm 14!' " said Heckler. "And then they did Tase him."

Heckler said the officer had no choice but to use the stun gun because Williams was running toward heavy traffic on Route 13. Williams also never alleged police beatings, only taking issue with his being zapped, Heckler added.

His mother, however, wasn't satisfied with police explanations.

"They brutally beat him," Marissa Sargeant told the Daily News last month. "If he did fall on his face, why does he have scrapes and bruises all over his whole face, everywhere? Why is his nose broken? Why is his nostril lifted off his face? Why is both of his eyes black and swollen?"

Sargeant and Williams were unavailable for comment yesterday, but their Center City lawyer said he's pursuing a civil case against the police.

"What we know so far is that a 14-year-old boy was Tased in the face and a portion of the skin of his face was pulled away while in police custody," said Fortunato N. Perri Jr. He noted that medical examiners who reviewed photos of Williams concluded that his injuries were too severe to have been caused only by his fall.

Tullytown Police have since fitted their stun guns with automatic cameras, taking pictures of perps before they take them down.

"I think it's all overkill," said Heckler, adding that he doesn't lay any blame on police for Williams' injuries. "Not one iota."


On Twitter: @jad_sleiman

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