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Cop Charged For Using Taser Gun On Suspect In Hospital Bed

NBC WESH | April 20 2005

ORLANDO, Fla. -- For the first time, an Orlando police officer is facing criminal charges for misusing a Taser gun.

An affidavit reveals the officer used the weapon to obtain a urine sample from a handcuffed suspect, WESH 2 News reported.

The information filed Monday charges Officer Peter Linnenkamp with misdemeanor battery, and prosecutors said some of the best evidence against Linnenkamp comes from his own report on the incident.

Linnenkamp is facing one criminal count of battery for using a Taser gun on Antonio Wheeler while he was handcuffed to a Florida Hospital gurney.

"Based on what we have as evidence, this was not a safety issue. This was a compliance issue to provide urine. So that rises to a level of a criminal act. In this case, it's a misdemeanor battery," said state attorney's spokesman Randy Means.

In his report on the March 5 incident, Linnenkamp admitted to shocking Wheeler with a Taser gun twice.

"Only minimum force necessary was used. This attempt was deemed necessary by the (medical) staff," Linnenkamp wrote in the report.

"There are times when people have medical problems that we have to make sure people get the treatment they need," said Lt. Brian Gilliam, of the Orlando Police Department.

Wheeler told police he had swallowed crack cocaine, so they took him to the hospital. But Means said concern over Wheeler's medical condition was not reason enough for the officer to use a Taser gun on a restrained suspect.

"This was not within the scope of his duty. The Taser is supposed to be for compliance, officer safety and public safety," Means said.

"He's a good officer, but we'll just have to wait and see if his judgment was poor that night," Gilliam said.

The charge carries a maximum of one year in prison, but due to the veteran officer's clean record, if convicted, he'll likely face diversion, a fine and perhaps some retraining.

He'll be notified by summons and won't have to be arrested or booked into jail.

The Orlando Police Department has one of the strictest Taser gun policies in Central Florida. Just last year, the policy was rewritten and now requires that the suspect be actively resisting arrest before a Taser gun can be used.

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