Beckley Police Department officials reported on Monday that police deployed a Taser gun on a man early Sunday, after they say he resisted arrest.
Detective Lt. Dave Allard reported on Monday that police officers had responded in downtown Beckley to a call that involved multiple people, very early on Sunday. He said that as they radioed from the patrol car for information on Anthony D. Johnson, one of the people who were being questioned for the unidentified call, Johnson overheard that a felony warrant had been issued by West Virginia State Police for his arrest.
"He takes off running," Allard said. "(Police) order him to stop.
"He turns and strikes one of the officers as he was running past him, pushes one of the officers out of the way.
"They continue to order to him to stop," Allard reports. "He refuses.
"He was actively resisting arrest and law enforcement commands, and he had just struck an officer."
Allard said police used a Taser gun to incapacitate Johnson after he had struck the officer.
Although Johnson's relative reported to local media that police had shot Johnson and sent him into surgery, Allard and BPD Sgt. W.D. Pannell said Monday that the relative's report is incorrect.
"He was tased and was taken to Raleigh General Hospital for treatment of injuries," Allard said. "He was not shot."
Taser guns deliver an electrical current that incapacitates humans. A Taser gun is not a firearm.
According to data from the manufacturer, Taser International, a Taser gun is considered "less lethal," meaning the weapon is not intended to be fatal and, in most cases, is not.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2016 that use of the Taser by police is "serious use of force" but that police may constitutionally deploy the Taser in cases involving minor offenses if the subject presents active physical resistance that amounts to an immediate safety risk to the officers attempting arrest.
The moment the subject no longer presents an immediate threat to arresting officers, Taser deployment must stop, under the federal court ruling.
Allard said police charged Johnson with disorderly conduct, simple possession of marijuana and battery on a police officer, all misdemeanors.
Pannell added that Johnson's charges were not connected to a shooting on Barber Avenue that had occurred Sunday afternoon.