We need therapists not cops to handle these things
Police veteran suspended 30 days
Investigation finds sergeant poorly supervised traffic stop, which led to ‘unnecessary arrest.'
By Michele Dargan
Sgt. Michele Pagan will be suspended without pay for 30 days after an internal investigation cited her for poor supervision of a traffic stop and the “unnecessary arrest” of an 83-year-old woman.
Public Safety Director Kirk Blouin notified Pagan of his decision in a three-page document dated Jan. 6. Pagan also will be placed on one year of probation.
Pagan, 45, has until Tuesday to file a written appeal.
A 20-year-veteran of the department, Pagan was one of the most visible faces of the Police Department when she worked as a business and community relations officer, patrolling the business districts on a bicycle. She was promoted to sergeant in November 2012 and moved to the night shift.
According to the Dec. 4 internal investigation report, the traffic stop began at 7:42 p.m. July 11, when Officer Kristen Swift saw a car swerving in the 1200 block of South Ocean Boulevard and turned on her overhead lights and sirens. The car didn’t pull over until the 800 block of South County Road.
The driver told Swift she was hard of hearing and wasn’t sure she wanted her to stop. Pagan arrived at 7:45 p.m.
Swift and Pagan took 34 minutes before deciding to charge the woman with failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, which was determined to be the wrong charge. Pagan then went to the woman’s driver side window, spent two minutes there and returned to Swift. That’s when Pagan told Swift she thought the woman was impaired and that she should conduct roadside sobriety tests.
By the time Swift asked her to perform field sobriety tests, the woman had been sitting in her car for 38 minutes, the report said. She was unable to do a one-leg stand, although she was asked to do it on an inclined road in a one-inch wedged heel shoe. She also was unable to complete a “walk and turn” task, which also should have been done on a flat surface with flat-bottom shoes or barefoot, the report said. A third officer arrived on scene and later said he thought the woman was impaired.
The woman was charged with DUI at 8:45 p.m. and taken for a breath test at the Palm Beach County Jail. Both breath samples came back with an alcohol content of zero. She also gave a urine sample, which tested negative for drugs or alcohol.
The woman, a South Palm Beach resident, was released from jail at 5:30 the next morning.
The State Attorney’s Office declined to file the DUI charge and dropped the failure to yield to an emergency vehicle charge, according to court records.
Swift resigned from the Palm Beach Police Department in September and now works for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.
Capt. Mick Keehan, who conducted the investigation, concluded Pagan failed to supervise the incident properly.
“During the lengthy amount of time [the woman] sat in her vehicle, Sgt. Pagan never suggested other options for Officer Swift to take,” the report stated. “Sgt. Pagan could not recall the conversation that she had with [the woman] to make her believe that she was impaired.”
The field sobriety tasks were improperly supervised by Pagan, the report stated. One task was administered improperly, and Pagan failed to take into consideration that the elderly woman didn’t have the ability or fine motor skills to perform tasks involving balance.
“As the shift supervisor, Sgt. Pagan was ultimately responsible for the arrest,” the report said.
Cop who shot beanbags at WWII vet John Wrana says he was 'in fear for my life'
Park Forest Police Officer Craig Taylor was just following orders.
That’s what the 11-year department veteran testified on Thursday, taking the stand in his own reckless conduct trial at the Markham courthouse.
Taylor is accused of using “unjustified” and “unreasonable” force when he fired a shotgun loaded with beanbag rounds at 95-year-old World War II vet John Wrana, who died hours later from his injuries on July 27, 2013. Police were called to the Victor Centre of Park Forest, an assisted living center, after an increasingly agitated Wrana refused to go voluntarily to a hospital to get checked for a possible urinary tract infection.
Before heading to the Victory Centre, where the vet was waving a knife and making threats, Taylor said his commanding officer told him to bring the “less lethal” shotgun.
When a plan was later devised to subdue Wrana, who barricaded himself in his room, it was the commanding officer who instructed Taylor to wield the shotgun, the officer said.
The plan: If Wrana refused to drop his knife, an officer would crack the door open and fire a Taser into Wrana’s room. If that didn’t work, it was Taylor’s turn to persuade the vet.
The Taser “malfunctioned,” and soon Taylor found himself facing the irate Wrana, who was across the room, holding the knife above his head and shouting, “Don’t come in my room or I will kill you!” Taylor testified.
Wrana refused to drop the knife and took steps toward him, so Taylor said he fired.
The muscular officer, who testified that he likes to lift weights and work out, said he was “afraid” and “in fear for my life.”
“I felt like I had to do something to stop him,” said Taylor, who fired five beanbags at the vet and eventually knocked the knife out of his hand with the fifth shot.