Victim in Pinellas Co. excessive force case speaks out

Still frame from video provided by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
Still frame from video provided by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – When Paige Taylor learned Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri fired Deputy Wayne Wagner, she felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off of her shoulders.

Deputy Wagner charged Taylor with resisting arrest and battery on a law enforcement officer after a March traffic stop.

The traffic stop was captured on surveillance video at the Mobil Gas Station on 4th Street North and Gandy Blvd. In St. Petersburg.  It was also captured on Deputy Wagner’s dash camera.

The video proved he lied about the incident. Sheriff Gualtieri addressed the media at a news conference on Friday.

“As the video clearly shows, is that Taylor did not touch Deputy Wagner at all,”  Gualtieri said.  “It is clear unfortunately that Deputy Wagner lied and didn’t tell the truth about what happened out there. And that he used unnecessary force.”

Taylor recalls the incident like it just happened.

“He slams me against the vehicle… And then he spins me around a little bit and then he  slams me to the ground,”  Taylor stated, who now has reservations every time she sees a patrol car pulling up next to her. “I kinda, I like to be honest, I die inside. Like I just pull over to the closest stop and I try to get myself together and hopefully there is a closest stop so I can pull into it.”

Taylor hired attorney Chris Beardslee. She told him what happened, and he believed her.  Initially, he thought the only video that existed came from the gas station where the traffic stop happened. But at Friday’s news conference, the sheriff revealed there was also dash cam video and audio.

Beardslee says the audio proved just as valuable as the video in proving his client wasn’t lying.

“You could hear the conversation.  You could hear the radio call.  You could hear Ms. Taylor’s calm response”  Beardslee said.  “It wasn’t like when they went down she started kicking and biting and fighting back. She remained calm, not trying to escalate the situation but was answering what the officer was saying.”

Beardslee says a civil suit against the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office isn’t out of the question.

Taylor believes the former deputy should face criminal charges, just like she did.  “I would like him to be because when I was in that scenario they were charging me so, it would be the right thing to do.”

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