A Virginia police officer who used a stun gun on an unarmed man last month was indicted on charges that could land him up to three years in prison.
The grand jury found that Fairfax police officer Tyler Timberlake unlawfully assaulted La Monta Gladney on June 5.
Timberlake faces three counts of misdemeanor assault. He could be sentenced to up to 36 months in prison if convicted.
Body camera footage showed the officer firing a stun gun at Gladney, who had been walking around in circles on a neighborhood street as officers tried convincing him to go to a detox center.
Timberlake then knelt on Gladney’s back while the man said “I can’t breathe.” He also fired the stun gun a second time as he pressed it against the back of Gladney’s neck.
Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. told reporters on June 6 that the video showed a police officer “deploying force in violation of our use of force policies.”
“And they are criminal acts, which violate our oath of office, and they ignore the sanctity of human life,” he added.
An internal investigation was launched along with the criminal probe. Timberlake was relieved of duty while the internal investigation was taking place.
According to WTOP radio, both a prosecutor and a lawyer for Timberlake said at a court hearing last month that the officer thought he was shooting a different man, who had a lengthy criminal record.
Brandon Shapiro, the attorney, said the mistake is relevant because they show his client was acting rationally. Prosecutor Bob Frank disagreed, saying, “A mistake on his part does not justify what he did.”
Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano’s office dropped misdemeanor assault and battery charges against Timberlake about a week ago, citing procedural issues. Descano said he supported a grand jury bringing charges.
“We can all agree that the footage in this incident is unsettling,” Descano said at a press conference last month.
Prosecutors charged Gladney, the man who was hit with the stun gun, with being drunk in public and resisting arrest.
Descano announced on June 11 that his office was dropping those charges.
There wasn’t enough evidence to support them, he said in a statement.
Gladney was treated at a local hospital after being stunned. He was later released.