Triple Taser zaps Tuesday fail to subdue disruptive shoplift suspect

Aug 9, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

A Riverton Police Department lieutenant said the devices are

old and in need of replacement.

Three shocks from a Taser were not enough to subdue a suspected shoplifter Tuesday afternoon in Riverton.

Officials said the devices weren't working properly.

One officer suffered a minor injury to his face during the incident, which began at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Walmart. Initial repots indicated John Brown, 46, of Riverton, had taken two beers from the store's liquor section - one bottle and one can - and had left the area without paying for the items.

"He cracked one (beer) open and started drinking it in the store when he was walking around," Riverton Police Department Lt. Wes Romero said Wednesday.

An employee followed Brown and asked him to pay for the merchandise, according to reports, but Brown did not comply. Instead, Romero said, Brown stole something else from the store - a knife - and left the building.

Officers arrived while Brown was still in the parking lot, Romero said, but Brown refused to acknowledge their presence.

He was still drinking one of the beers, Romero added.

One officer pulled a patrol vehicle in front of Brown, blocking his path, Romero continued, so Brown stopped walking and began shouting obscenities at the police, who approached him and took the bottle of beer from his hand.

Because store employees had reported that Brown had a knife, Romero said the officers wanted to "secure him" so they could look for the weapon. When they tried to grab his arm, though, Brown twisted away and continued swearing at them, telling them to shoot him or Taser him, Romero said.

The officers had already confiscated the knife by then, Romero noted; it had been tucked into the back of Brown's pants.

"When they started struggling with him to begin with (they were) able to grab that and drop it on the ground," he explained.

Regardless, officers did utilize a Taser on Brown, but it only had "minimal effect," according to Romero.

"They're old (and) needing replaced," he said of the RPD's current inventory of Tasers.

As a result, instead of being incapacitated Brown responded to the shock by "jump(ing) around into the parking lot," Romero said.

RPD Sgt. Scott Komrs followed Brown and tried to "grab" him, Romero said, so Brown punched Komrs in the face.

Romero said Komrs had seen the blow coming and was able to duck to avoid most of the impact.

"It caught the end of his chin, (but) he was OK," Romero said. "I don't believe anybody got medical treatment."

At that point the officers - three were on scene - tried to Taser Brown again, Romero said, but the second attempt had no effect, likely due to a misfire. Instead, the officers physically took Brown to the ground, where they tried to Taser him a third time, but Romero said the third device didn't work well either.

Even after Brown was placed in handcuffs, Romero said the suspect continued resisting, "kicking and flailing" while being put into the back of a patrol vehicle.

Brown was arrested for shoplifting, possession of marijuana, resisting arrest and assault on an officer.

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