It started off as a routine traffic stop on a high school student in a residential neighborhood in Missouri with the cop getting angry that the teen was asking questions, so he tasered him for 20 seconds, sending the 17-year-old into cardiac arrest.
Independence police officer Timothy Runnels then yanked the boy out of the car, handcuffing him before picking him up and slamming him face first into a sidewalk, leaving the boy in a coma.
Runnels later claimed he had smelled marijuana in the car.
But witnesses said that Runnels became angry when Bryce Masters would not fully roll down the window. They also said he pulled out his phone to record the traffic stop, asking the officer questions about the legality of the stop, which is what set Runnels off.
It was only later when Runnels discovered that Masters was the son of a Kansas City police officer, who had taught his son how to ask questions during traffic stops. And the window was apparently broken, which is why Masters was unable to roll it down.
On Tuesday, 20 months after the September 2014 incident, Runnels was sentenced to four years in prison.
As part of his guilty plea, Runnels admitted that while he was employed as an officer of the Independence Police Department, he deprived the minor of his civil rights by deliberately dropping the minor face first onto the ground while the minor was restrained and not posing a threat to Runnels or others. According to the court filings, Runnels also admitted that his actions resulted in bodily injury to the minor.
During a sentencing hearing before Senior U.S. District Court Judge Dean Whipple of the Western District of Missouri, the government provided evidence that Runnels deployed his taser into the minor’s chest during a traffic stop and then caused the electric current to run for approximately 20 seconds, four times longer than officers are trained to deploy a taser. Evidence at the hearing revealed that as a result of the tasing, the minor went into cardiac arrest and became unresponsive. Dash camera video of the incident depicts Runnels handcuffing the minor after the taser deployment and then picking him up. The video and other evidence presented at the sentencing demonstrates that Runnels then deliberately dropped the handcuffed victim face-first into the pavement. Although the minor suffered cardiac arrest and facial injuries, he survived the incident due to timely medical treatment by medical personnel at the scene and at the hospital.
Judge Whipple issued the sentence, which will be followed by two years of supervised release.
Although Masters is said to have recorded the incident, his phone was seized by Independence police and no further mention was ever made of it. But the incident was also captured on Runnels’ dash cam, which also has not been released.
And as you can see in the news reports below, Independence police stuck to their guns after the incident, putting the blame on Masters for forcing the cop to almost kill him.
But because Masters’ friends witnessed the incident, even capturing the tail end of the altercation on video – not to mention the fact that his father is a cop – the FBI was asked to step in and investigate.
And as a result, Runnels will spend the next four years behind bars.
Masters recovered from the incident but still suffers from traumatic brain injury.