Virginia police officer who used stun gun on Black man indicted on assault charges

Virginia police officer who used stun gun on Black man indicted on assault charges
© Fairfax County Police Department

A grand jury has indicted a white Fairfax County, Va., police officer for misdemeanor assault after footage emerged of him using his stun gun seemingly unprovoked on a Black man in June. 

Lawyers for officer Tyler Timberlake say the incident was a case of mistaken identity and that he mistook La Monta Gladney for another man with a criminal record.

Body camera footage of the June 5 episode depicts Gladney walking in circles while Timberlake approaches him. Emergency medical technicians ask Gladney if he needs oxygen, after which Gladney appears to say he wants to go to detox before changing his mind. Gladney can be heard saying “I can’t breathe” while the stun gun is fired.

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"We can all agree that the footage of this incident is unsettling," Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said in June. "I want our community to know that we are pursuing charges that are in line with current law and supported by the evidence with which we have been presented."

Chief of Police Edwin Roessler Jr. said in June that the footage depicts “criminal acts” and that the incident “erodes the public’s trust of police officers, not only in Fairfax County but throughout the world.”

Timberlake faces up to 36 months in prison if convicted.

Timberlake's indictment on three misdemeanor counts of assault and battery comes a week after Fairfax prosecutors dropped equivalent charges on procedural grounds, according to The Washington Post.

Prosecutors asked for the earlier charges to be dropped in favor of an indictment that will allow them to try Timberlake before a circuit court jury, which will allow them to appeal if Timberlake is acquitted. Prosecutors would not have been able to appeal a not-guilty verdict reached in district court, while Timberlake’s attorneys could have appealed a conviction to circuit court.