A Lancaster, Pa., police officer will not be suspended or fired for using a stun gun on an unarmed man who appeared to be complying with his demands last month, the city's mayor said on Monday.
Mayor Danene Sorace said at a news conference that an investigation determined that officer Philip Bernot did not violate the city's current use-of-force policies when he used a stun gun on a 27-year-old black man who was sitting on a curb.
"The preliminary findings of the investigation are that his actions complied with the city’s current use of force and taser policies, which authorizes use in various situations, including a failure to respond to multiple verbal commands," she said, adding that city officials were working to update the policies.
The investigation is not yet completed. But Sorace said that the preliminary findings make it "clear that officer Bernot will not be fired or suspended for his involvement the incident."
A video posted on Facebook last month shows Bernot telling Lancaster resident Sean Williams to sit on the curb. Williams complies with that order, but appears to struggle when the officer tells him to put his legs straight out. Bernot then uses a taser on him.
Williams was subsequently arrested on an outstanding warrant for possession of a controlled substance and public drunkenness, according to Lancaster Online. Williams has since filed a federal lawsuit alleging that he was racially profiled and a victim of excessive use of force.
Sorace acknowledged at the news conference on Monday that the fact that Bernot would not be fired or suspended for his actions would upset some people, and said that she would be held accountable for the incident.
"Who is accountable? I am," she said. "I am accountable as a mayor — for existing policies procedures training hiring practices and more. It’s on me."