Bryce Masters, a 17-year-old high school student who was in a medically induced coma after being tasered in the chest Sunday, is awake and speaking.
Masters is “conscious” and “verbally communicating” but remains in intensive care, according to Daniel J. Haus, the family’s attorney. Masters doesn’t remember the incident that resulted in his hospitalization.
Masters was stopped by police officer Tim Runnels in Independence, Missouri, for a minor traffic warrant related to his vehicle’s license plate. Police said officer Runnels tasered Masters in his car after he became “uncooperative” and refused to get out of his vehicle.
Police say Masters voluntarily got out of his car before he collapsed on the street. But witnesses told local station Fox4kc they saw Runnels pull the teen from the vehicle, handcuff him and then allow him to fall, hitting his face on the concrete.
Michelle Baker recorded this cellphone video, which shows Masters lying on the ground for at least three minutes.
Haus confirmed Baker’s video will be included in the investigation, along with a dashboard camera video that is yet to be released.
A spokesman for the Independence Police Department told Fusion that officer Runnels acted “under policy,” repeating a statement they issued to media even before interviewing Runnels about the incident.
According to the Independence Police Department Taser Policy, officers should avoid intentionally targeting the Taser CEW on the chest or area of the heart, unless that level of force can be justified. The policy also states that Tasers are authorized for use when “the subject’s actions cause a reasonable officer to believe that the subject is an immediate threat to an officer or civilian and that physical force will be used by the subject to resist the arrest or detention.”
Masters is at least the fourth teenager who was put in coma after being tasered by police in the past three years, according to a Fusion investigation.
Fusion found that there is no federal agency or organization tracking the number of Taser incidents and the use of these weapons.
Haus says the family is focusing on Masters’ recovery and does not want to comment on the case until the investigation is completed.
Taser International said they had no information about the case.