Tempe, AZ – The Tempe police chief defended her officers for deploying Tasers on a suspect who was holding a baby and said no department policies had been violated (video below).
The incident occurred on June 15 when Tempe police officers responded to a domestic incident at an apartment near Hardy Drive and Elliott Road, KNXV reported.
Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that 911 had received “an urgent call for help from a woman in our community.”
“This was a call from a woman who said she needed immediate police assistance and help related to a domestic violence situation that endangered her and her multiple young children,” Chief Moir explained.
She said when officers arrived, they went into the home to do a welfare check and found Ivaughn Oakry alone with three small children.
Bodycam video from the incident showed the officers gave Oakry commands to put his hands on his head as the children screamed in the background
Video showed that Oakry failed to follow the officers’ instructions and became verbally combative.
Then he bent over and picked up a baby to use as a shield between himself and the police officers, the video showed.
Chief Moir said officers determined that the safest way to take the suspect into custody was to deploy their Tasers.
“They deployed the Tasers striking the suspect – and only the suspect – resulting in the suspect falling onto a large pile of soft clothing,” the chief told reporters. “And the officers were then given an opportunity to safely secure the child and take the suspect into custody.”
Afterwards, Tempe police provided victim’s assistance resources and assisted the victim and her children in moving out of the home, the chief said.
Chief Moir said that medics responded to the scene and checked out the suspect, the baby, and the victim of domestic violence. Nobody needed further medical treatment.
She said the baby’s mother declined at the scene to have the child taken to the hospital for further examination.
Chief Moir said she wanted to “address and correct some misinformation” that had been released by Black Lives Matter at a press conference earlier in the day.
“These innocent children and their mother were placed in harm’s way by the suspect, and any suggestion that anyone else but this suspect put people in harm’s way is irresponsible,” the chief said.
“Everyone should know that after this call – as is normal procedure in the Tempe Police Department – when any kind of force is deployed, we reviewed the response, the tactics, and determined that no policy violations occurred,” she continued.
Chief Moir said the suspect resorted to “desperate measures” to avoid being arrested “and to avoid being held accountable to their actions even as heinous as using a child as a barrier between and suspect and an officer.”
At the press conference earlier in the day, claims were made that the baby was injured via skin to skin contact with Oakry when the officers deployed Tasers.
However, the spokeswoman for the Tempe Police Department explained that was not how Tasers worked and that the child had been checked by medics and was fine after the incident.
Oakry was arrested and charged with one count of domestic violence endangerment of the child and one count of domestic violence assault of the mother, KNXV reported.
But the chief said that charges were later dropped “because the victim didn’t want to aid in prosecution” of the suspect.
You can see video of the incident below. WARNING – Language.