Crime

Video of Kennewick officers punching and Tasing prowler goes viral. Police investigating

The two officers caught on video shocking and punching a car prowling suspect are a pair of Kennewick police veterans.

A Facebook video of part of the arrest at the Benton-Franklin Transit Center attracted more than a 1,600 shares and 840 comments in the 18 hours since it was posted by a witness.

The two officers involved are Josh Kuhn, a 17-year veteran, and Stan Howard, a 20-year veteran.

Kennewick police are conducting an investigation into whether the force used was necessary for officer safety, said Sgt. Remie Rees.

Policy does not require that the officers to be placed on administrative leave for using that level of force, he said.

The video shows Kuhn aiming a Taser at a suspect who is facing a fence. The man appears to collapse to the ground momentarily, apparently after being shocked, but soon he sits up.

He orders the suspect to lie down and put his arms out or he will be stunned again. The suspect appears to comply by lying down, but instead of putting his arms out to his side, he puts them above his head and he does not put his head on the ground.

Howard shows up and the two close in on the suspect.

Kuhn stomps his head and then uses his hand to push it to the ground, while Howard appears to kneel on the suspect and starts trying to handcuff him.

Howard punches the man twice in the right side and five times in the back, before getting his hands behind him, the video shows.

Transit center break-in

Police say the events in the video came after a break-in and chase at the transit center shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Officers were called after someone spotted a man, later identified as Gordon Bailey, 51, break into a pickup window and start taking items, Kennewick police said.

KPD car prowl
The suspect had broken into this truck at the Ben Franklin Transit transfer station in Kennewick when he was confronted by officers. Courtesy Kennewick Police Depart

When officers arrived, they spotted Bailey hiding in an empty bus. Officers ordered him off the bus but he refused. As they came closer, he bolted out, climbed a fence and ran.

As officers closed in on him he tried to climb over another fence. Police say an officer warned Bailey they would fire a Taser if he didn’t stop. When he kept going, he was shocked, said police.

And then he still didn’t comply with the officers’ orders.

“Bailey verbally and physically resisted their efforts to install handcuffs,” said the news release. “Several strikes were applied to Bailey’s right side and lower back area in an attempt to gain compliance from Bailey and get handcuffs applied.”

Bailey was checked at Trios Southridge Hospital before being brought to the Benton County jail. He was booked on suspicion of vehicle prowling, second-degree criminal trespass and resisting arrest.

The use of force in this case is not serious enough to bring in the Tri-City Special Investigative Unit. The unit is generally activated when there is an officer-involved shooting or death related to using force.

The release said they will be reviewing the video and investigating the use of force and arrest.

The sergeant that manages the officer’s shift will collect statements by both of the officers, Rees said. They will need to explain every use of force — each punch, the use of the Taser and why they needed to step on the man’s head.

While the video may look bad, he said, officers need to use force sometimes to make sure they remain safe.

“When you’re in that moment, sometimes you have to resort to these means to keep yourself safe,” Rees said.

Once the report is finished, it will be forwarded to the command staff. They’ll decide if more information is needed.

Once they’re satisfied, the report will be passed along to the chief.

Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.
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