By Jeremy Gorner Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO — Newly released video from Chicago’s police watchdog shows an officer shocking a man with a Taser in November after he fled on foot from a traffic stop on the South Side.
The video from Officer Marissa Garbacz’s body camera shows 41-year-old Stephen Baldwin take off running after the officer told him she and her partner had stopped his silver Volvo near 79th Street and Champlain Avenue in the Chatham neighborhood because its license plate was expired.
The video from about 4 p.m. on Nov. 28 then shows Garbacz run after Baldwin down sidewalks and an alley before she finds him hiding under a stairwell behind a home.
Pointing a Taser at him, she repeatedly orders him to put his hands up, according to the video.
“I don’t have s—,” Baldwin says just before turning around and raising his hands.
He then scampers a few steps forward and tries to climb over a chain-link gate to elude her again. That’s when Garbacz shocks him with her weapon.
“I’m gonna tase you! Taser! Taser!” she shouts as he falls over the fence head- or face-first and into a gangway. “I’m going to tase you again, sir! Stay down!” Garbacz shouts soon after as backup officers begin to arrive.
The incident occurred a little more a month after the Chicago Police Department tightened its guidelines on Taser use, rewriting the rules to discourage officers from shocking people who are running away or otherwise vulnerable to injury. The policy went into effect following a Chicago Tribune investigation over the summer detailing the department’s reliance on the weapons.
Under the new guidelines, officers should try to avoid using the weapon during a number of situations “when practicable,” including if a suspect is running away, elevated above ground or could fall and suffer an impact to the head.
Police reports show that after his arrest, Baldwin was taken to an area hospital to be treated for bleeding on the brain.
Records show Baldwin is being held in Cook County Jail on $50,000 bail. He faces felony charges of forgery, identity theft and possession of a fraudulent identification card.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which made the video public on its website Thursday, continues to investigate the incident.
After being curbed, Baldwin had handed over a New Jersey driver’s license and another card to officers. While Garbacz checked out the license in her squad car, the Stevie Nicks song “Edge of Seventeen” blares and a police radio crackles.
“I can’t tell if this looks like him at all,” Garbacz says to her partner.
Moments later, Garbacz’s body camera video shows her partner trying to place Baldwin in handcuffs outside the Volvo before he runs away.
After the Taser shock drops Baldwin, one officer assisting Garbacz bursts through the padlocked gate and shouts at Baldwin to “get your hands behind your back!”
About two minutes of Garbacz’s video then becomes obscured when the camera gets caught on the fence, according to police reports provided by COPA. But the camera’s audio function repeatedly captures officers demanding that Baldwin get off the ground.
“Why the hell you running, dude?” says one officer, sounding irritated.
©2018 the Chicago Tribune