by Jack Shea
STOW, Ohio (Fox8) - The use of a Taser by Stow police during a traffic stop is now the focus of a federal lawsuit filed by a Summit County woman, alleging police brutality.
Chelsea Garrett, 23, told Fox 8, “When I woke up in the hospital, the first thing that I wanted was to know the truth. Now that I know the truth, all I want is the truth known.”
The trouble for Garrett began on Nov. 5, 2011, when she began having periodic blackouts while driving.
Garrett, who is a diabetic, said she was disoriented after taking over-the-counter medicine for a cold.
While in that state, she left the scene of an accident she caused in Akron, and then nearly side-swiped a Stow police cruiser.
“I would never deny that, I was scared watching the video, seeing myself drive like that,” she said.
When the Stow police officer pulled Garrett over, dash cam video shows the 90 pound college student getting out of her car and stumbling toward the officer.
That’s when, according to Garrett’s attorney, the officer punched her in the chest with a Taser he was holding in his hand, and then as she was lying on the ground, shot her with the Taser at least two times.
“I would have gotten in the car, you could have handcuffed me, put me in the car, anything,” said Garrett.
According to the federal lawsuit, Chelsea Garrett’s attorney maintains she was tasered a third time after she was handcuffed.
“That will never make sense to me,” she said.
The Stow Police “Use of Force Committee,” which is made up of three Stow police officers, reviewed the incident, and ruled that the officers’ use of the Taser was within department guidelines.
The committee concluded that Chelsea Garrett was “unresponsive to police commands,” and stated that “if an officer perceives a threat through the totality of circumstances, he does not have to wait until he is harmed to deploy the Taser.”
Garrett, who later pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless operation, disputes that finding, and said the goal of her lawsuit is to change the police philosophy on the use of Tasers.
“Different policies, different training, I want to make sure that everyone can feel safe because I don’t trust the police anymore, and I’ve never had a trust issue with police or authoritative figures in my life,” she explained.
Stow Police Chief Louis Dirker declined comment on the allegations, citing the pending lawsuit in federal court.