Neighbors called police to complain about a shirtless man screaming and swearing and stomping around as he walked through the residential neighborhood.
“I think he has drug problems,” the caller told the dispatcher, according to the Joplin Globe in Missouri.
The caller added that he did not see any weapons on the man but when Joplin police officer Laken Rawlings pulled up, she began treating him as if he were armed and dangerous, ordering him to remain facedown on the ground (after he willingly placed himself there), threatening to taser him if he made any attempt to stand up.
David Inkle, 31, was a diagnosed schizophrenic who was prone to paranoia and delusion. His behavior had drawn the attention of police in the past but he had no history of violence. One officer wrote in his report that he “has a history of mental illness” following an incident where he was yelling and cursing in an apartment complex in 2017.
But on that August 13 night, Rawlings only felt safe enough to approach him after Joplin police officer Christopher Grant Meador pulled up to the scene; both of them approaching with their tasers drawn, Rawlings advising him the suspect appears to be “mental.”
When both cops were standing over him, Inkle lifted his body as if to stand up which is when they both began tasering him which made his body start convulsing.
When he did not stop convulsing, Meador planted his foot on his body and Rawlens attempted to shove him back while tasering him – tasering her own hand in the process.
After Inkle managed to stand up, Meador pulled out his gun, ordering him to get back on the ground. But Inkle began running towards him which made Meador fear for his life which is when he fired five times.
“You will see Ingle swinging at (Rawlins) and then trying to reach for her gun belt,” Joplin Police Chief Matt Stewart said in a press conference.
But the video shows that Inkle was just trying to stand up to keep from being tasered. At one point, he does swing his arm but it appears to be part of his attempt to stand up.
Stewart also said both cops were highly trained in how to deal with suspects who are mentally ill but that is also questionable by viewing the video.
Both Rawlens and Meador were cleared of any wrongdoing last month.
According to the Joplin Globe.
“The Missouri State Highway Patrol completed their investigation and determined no criminal wrongdoing (had been committed) by either of the officers,” Stewart said. “We also completed our own internal affairs investigation and … determined there were no policy violations that occurred.”
Following the playing of the audio and video recordings on a screen inside the Joplin Public Safety Training Center, Stewart said: “It’s easy for someone who is not involved in law enforcement encounters to question events because they don’t know the reality of trying to subdue someone that is aggressively trying to attack them.”
Meador and Rawlins have a combined 1,051 hours of police training, including 599 hours of “use of force” and “deescalation” training and 79 hours of mental health training, Stewart said. Meador joined the Joplin Police Department in July 2014; Rawlins joined in May 2017.
“Missouri requires every individual police officer to receive a minimum of 24 hours of training each year,” Stewart said. “As you can see, both of these officers have far exceeded the minimum required training — Meador, six times the required amount, and Rawlins, seven-and-a-half times the amount.”
Watch the video below.