SCMPD Chief Apologizes to Man Improperly Tased by Officers

Jingle Bell Patrols are rolling in Savannah to take a bite out of holiday crime

“We sincerely regret what Patrick Mumford experienced.”

That’s part of the last paragraph of a letter sent out by Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin.

Four officers, four suspensions. A total of 15 days, all without pay.

That’s the result of the SCMPD investigation into a case of mistaken identity which ended with a tasing. A case that made national news, one that everyone hopes will lead to changes in our community.

“He wants this to be the last time someone is wrongly arrested and tased,” said Will Claiborne, Patrick Mumford’s attorney.

He is Patrick Mumford. The man shown on video getting tased by SCMPD officers back in February.

“I’m not getting up man show me the warrant. Show me the warrant. Go go,” explains Mumford during the incident.

Savannah Police were looking for another man, Michael Clay – but didn’t get Mumford’s driver’s license, and didn’t listen to him when he said “my name is Patrick”.

Chief Lumpkin’s admission, officers “didn’t” follow correct procedure.. and were put on suspension.

“I want give Chief Lumpkin credit for taking that step in the right direction it seems like they are trtying to move the right direction in this situation in a forthright manner.”

Chief even went on to meet with Patrick Mumford himself. In his letter – and in person, he apologized for what happened.

“Words of apology do not make up for the false arrest do not make up for the pain and siffuering he endured,” explained Claiborne.

That’s why Mumford is still considering a lawsuit.

But his attorney says its not as much about money as making a difference.

“Patrick is also very interested in making sure there aren’t other Patrick’s that follow along behind him,” said Claiborne. “To see that this situation doesn’t happen again.”

“We believe there is a win win scenario and it will be up to the Chief and the citry to see if they want to go that path.”

Patrick Mumford still is dealing with some trauma according to Claiborne, but his stress is reducing, especially because the police department will “not” try to revoke his probation, or change his status because of this incident.

The four officers involved all served their suspensions, which ranged from 1 to 6 days, are back on the beat.

In addition to the punishments, SCMPD is also planning to make a video to show people and officers a better way to interact with one another, one that doesn’t involve a weapon.

SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – On February 1, 2016, SCMPD was requested by the Delano, California Police Department to contact Michael Bernard Clay, an individual who had allegedly turned in a cellular phone to a kiosk, after the phone had been involved in an armed robbery on April 23, 1015.   Mr. Clay was believed to be located at 3216 Martha Drive. Three SCMPD officers, CPL Charles Wilson, APO Sharif Lockett, and APO Aaron Fox were dispatched to make contact with Mr. Clay.

Prior to going to Martha Street, the three officers checked Clay for warrants through the Georgia Crime Information Computer system (GCIC) and found that Clay had a Simple Assault warrant outstanding from Cobb County, Georgia.  They then obtained a booking photograph, Clay’s arrest history, and his physical characteristics.

When the officers arrived on the scene, they encountered a young man who was sitting in a car in the driveway located at the address, and who they believed, mistakenly, to be Mr. Clay.   When the person they encountered failed to follow the officers’ instructions and his hand appeared to reach for something on the front passenger seat floor board area, the officers restrained him utilizing a Conducted Electrical Weapon (Taser).  Subsequently, the officers looked at the subject’s identification, and determined that he was not Mr. Clay, but Patrick Mumford.  The officers arrested Mr. Mumford for Obstruction by Resisting (Arrest).

Sergeant Robert Kendrick, C Watch Supervisor, assumed the task of completing the supervisory command notifications and ensuring that the appropriate Use of Force Documentation was completed.

Charges of obstruction against Mr. Mumford were subsequently dismissed at the discretion of the District Attorney.

In all cases in which force is used by a police officer against a suspect, SCMPD policy requires that supervisory personnel file a “Use of Force” report, which is reported up the chain of command.  In this case, the sergeant did not file the report on use of force until several weeks after the event, on April 22, 2016.  This matter was not reported to the Internal Affairs Unit, or to the Chief of Police, until July 12, 2016.

When the matter was brought to the Chief’s attention, he directed the Internal Affairs commander to take steps to make sure that Mr. Mumford’s probation record, and his treatment as a First Offender for a prior offense, was not adversely affected by this arrest.  This has been accomplished.

The internal affairs investigation determined that the officers did not follow correct procedure in interviewing Mr. Mumford, since they did not ask to see his identification, which may have de-escalated the situation at the outset.

In efforts to continue our transparency, the SCMPD’s internal investigation has revealed that this police encounter with Mr. Mumford was outside the policies of the SCMPD.  Therefore, disciplinary action has been applied to officers who are being held accountable for the violations of the SCMPD’s policy.  Also, all of our precinct supervisors have provided additional training to officers during shift briefings.  This training is mandatory and uses a curriculum that focuses on the laws of arrest and SCMPD’s policy and procedure requirements.  SCMPD is also filming a local video for our citizenry and police to show how we can better communicate and interact with each other and prevent miscommunications in the future.

When Mr. Mumford failed to follow the officers’ instructions and his hand appeared to reach for something on the front passenger seat floor board area, we do feel that our officers demonstrated great restraint toward Mr. Mumford in using a Taser, as opposed to a firearm (as it applies to the law enforcement use of force continuum). When an individual’s hand(s) become concealed in disregard to police commands, police officers typically feel their personal safety is at great risk.

Again, even though this incident occurred on February 1, 2016, it was not brought to the attention of the Police Chief and /or Internal Affairs Unit until July 12, 2016.  We were first made aware of this problematic encounter with Mr. Munford through a request for comment received by WTOC on July 12, 2016.  Therefore the SCMPD obviously experienced an internal communication failure. Incident information was not passed up the chain of command, which is a violation of SCMPD policy.  Again, upon learning of the problematic encounter on July 12, 2016, the police chief directed the Internal Affairs Commander to take steps to prevent the February 1, 2016 arrest from harming Mr. Mumford and his First Offender arrest status.

This incident is not a reflection of the vast members of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department.  Our officers respond to more than 450 calls for service every day and uphold the mission of the SCMPD – to serve, to protect and to build public trust.

On behalf of the men and women of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department and as human beings, we sincerely regret what Mr. Patrick Munford experienced on February 1, 2016, in the encounter with our officers.   As the Chief of Police, I apologize to Mr. Mumford and I have done so in person.

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