ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. (WFLA) – A Zephyrhills Police officer has been removed from the department for using improper force during an investigation into misdemeanor retail theft. The officer, Tim Claussen, is a 10-year veteran of the department. He has no previous disciplinary problems on his record, according to the department. His employment was terminated Wednesday.
On Sept. 9 Claussen arrived at a suspect’s home to investigate a Bealls outlet store shoplifting incident, according to the Zephyrhills Police Department. “The officer confronted and eventually used his Taser on the suspect, who offered no ‘active physical resistance’ inside his home,” police said.
Video from a camera mounted on the Taser shows Claussen confronting Brown at his rented duplex. “Get outside or I’m gonna Tase you. You understand me? You’re a suspect in a retail theft investigation, and I need you out here now,” Claussen is heard yelling.
The suspect, Lester Brown, replies, “I didn’t do anything. I don’t understand, I didn’t do anything.”
Claussen insists Brown step outside. ”You can talk to me right there. This is my house. You see, I have nothing in my hands,” Brown says.
“Come outside now. You’re about to get Tased. This is the last time. Taser, taser,” Claussen says. At that point you can hear shrieks and yelling.
Video shows Brown’s hands in the air when the Taser is fired. “You had no fear of me,” Brown says after the Tasing. “This is excessive force. No reason.”
Operations Captain Derek Brewer discovered the Taser incident when reviewing reports on Sept. 10, according to the department. “Clarification was sought on the incident,” police said.
An investigation started on Sept. 11, and Claussen was put on administrative leave. Sergeant Reginald Roberts conducted the investigation. “Sergeant Roberts’ investigation found the officer’s use of force to be excessive and unjustified,” police said. “The review of the video from the officer’s ECD/Taser camera clearly shows the subject displaying no ‘active physical resistance’ toward the officer and therefore not requiring the level of force used by the officer.”
“Chief David Shears and the City of Zephyrhills Police Department want to reassure the public that our actions on this matter were timely and appropriate as we understand the severity of the officer’s actions,” police said in a statement. “We want to impress upon the public that this incident is not indicative of the Zephyrhills Police Department and we hold ourselves to the highest standards while serving this community.”
On Thursday Brown watched the video with News Channel 8. He grimaced when he saw the electrodes piercing his skin.
“They fired him? Oh wow,” Brown said. His attorney advised him not to talk, but he did concede, “I get a little joy out of that cuz it made me scared of all cops.”