Independence officer smelled marijuana before arresting teen - KCTV5 News

Independence officer smelled marijuana before arresting teen

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An Independence Police Department officer said he smelled marijuana coming from Bryce Master's vehicle before he arrested him, and Bryce Masters recorded on his smartphone the moments leading up to the officer hitting him in the chest with stun gun probes.

Officers removed drug paraphernalia from the vehicle, according to court records.

New details about Sunday's incident that prompted an FBI investigation were revealed in court documents provided to KCTV5 Wednesday afternoon.

In the documents, police sought search warrants for the vehicle that Masters was driving and his iPhone.

At 5:07 p.m. Sunday, Officer Tim Runnels pulled Masters over near Main Street and Southside Boulevard after following him for several blocks. Masters was driving a gray 2000 Pontiac Grand Pix. There was a warrant for the arrest of a woman associated with the vehicle, which had dark tinted windows. 

Runnels said he approached the vehicle on the passenger side and ordered Masters to roll down the window.

"The driver partially rolled down the window a few inches. Officer Runnels reported that he detected an odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle," according to the search warrant application. "The driver refused to completely roll down the passenger side window and asked Officer Runnels, 'Why? I can hear you!' Officer Runnels responded to the driver's side door where he opened the door."

Masters was holding his iPhone and "appeared to be recording the incident," according to the court document. Runnels repeatedly ordered the teen to exit the vehicle.

"The teen refused to exit and asked, 'Why? Am I under arrest?' Officer Runnels determined that the driver was actively interfering with his patrol investigation and informed the driver that he in fact was being placed under arrest. The driver refused to exit his vehicle and physically braced himself inside the vehicle to prevent the officer from extracting him. Officer Runnels attempted to physically remove the driver from the vehicle, but was unsuccessful," according to court records.

No backup officers had arrived at this point. Runnels pulled out his department-issued stun gun and again ordered Masters to exit the car.

"The driver refused the officer's commands and continued to brace himself inside his vehicle. Officer Runnels deployed his Taser, which struck the driver in the mid-section of his body," according to the search warrant application.

Three minutes after he first pulled the teen over, Runnels fired his stun gun at 3:10 p.m.

"Officer Runnels instructed the driver to exit the vehicle, at which time he did, and laid down on the ground beside his vehicle," according to court records. "Officer Runnels handcuffed the driver to exit the vehicle with his hands behind his back. Officer Runnels instructed the driver to move to the curb. Officer Runnels stated that the driver did not comply with his command, at which time, he grabbed the driver from behind and carried him to the side of the roadway."

But Daniel Haus, an attorney for the Masters family, said Masters immediately collapsed. He said doctors have determined that the stun gun's probes struck Masters near his heart and caused him to go into full cardiac arrest.

"While in the custody of Officer Runnels, Mr. Masters began to suffer from some form of a medical emergency," the search warrant application states.

An AMR ambulance was then summoned and paramedics arrived on the scene at 3:15 p.m. They worked on Masters and then left for the hospital at 3:27 p.m.

Cell phone video shows that Runnels did not immediately come to Master's aid after he was lying on the ground. The police department's stun gun policy does allow officers to provide aid to suspects hit by the probes of a stun gun, including detailing how to remove the probes.

Runnels was working in his backyard Wednesday evening. Neither Runnels nor his wife came to the door when KCTV5 knocked at his door Wednesday evening. Neighbors described him as a hard-working, helpful man.

The FBI is interviewing witnesses in the neighborhood.

Ken Balusek, a criminal justice professor at Rockhurst University, reviewed smartphone video shot by one of Masters' friends. He said in the video that he reviewed it appears that Runnels did nothing wrong.

"We see the officer put his foot on him. That doesn't concern me. It's to keep him, if he is convulsing, from doing further damage to himself," Balusek said. "And if he's moving voluntarily I think the officer is trying to keep him under control there."

The friend's video does not show Runnels actually using the stun gun and pulling Masters from the vehicle.

"So I think we really don't learn much from this video to make any conclusions upon whether the officer used appropriate force or not in using the Taser in this situation," the professor said.

Officers are given discretion when they use force.

"They're making split second decisions and they're taught to assume everyone is dangerous," Balusek said. "And they don't know if someone has a gun, a knife, a weapon or something like that so the officer has to assume that everyone is dangerous."

Click here and here and here and here to see the court documents released Wednesday.

Click here to see the Independence Police Department's Taser policy.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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