For the past few weeks, we’ve been investigating allegations that a Chariton police officer repeatedly used his taser on a mentally disturbed woman even after she was handcuffed and hogtied in the back of his police car.
Sources told us there was video tape of the entire incident. The police department refused to turn over that tape, even though it should be a matter of public record. Still, we were able to get a copy of it. We warn you though, it is disturbing.
The video shows the police officer’s perspective of Sergeant Tyler Ruble of the Chariton Police Department tasing a woman, even though she is hog tied in the back of his cruiser.
The incident happened two years ago, and started, ironically, as officer Ruble was investigating whether the woman was a victim of abuse.
Sergeant Ruble decides to detain the woman to determine if she is the victim of domestic abuse. We are not revealing her identity to protect her privacy. Ruble asks the woman to talk to another officer. She does, sits down, but then according to police reports, decides to get up and leave, so she is handcuffed and tased the first time.
The woman then says, “What did I do? What am I under arrest for?” The officer responds, “Interference and assault. Now sit.” She answers, “Assault? Who’s assaulting who?”
The woman is put into the police car, but begins kicking her feet, so she is tased again.
Police put what is called a hobble on the woman, cuffing her hands and ankles, and hog-tying her from the back, but because she is banging around in the back of the car, according to police reports, Ruble tases her again.
The woman is finally brought to the hospital for evaluation where she is heard saying, “You guys just love beating women. I bet your wives love it. Beat on your wives too?”
We obtained this police report, dated just two weeks after the tasing incident, showing Lucas County Sheriff`s Deputies responded to a domestic complaint at Sergeant Tyler Ruble`s home.
According to the report, Ruble`s wife said “Tyler (was) shoving and slamming her against the east wall whenever she would try and move’ and ‘(he) grabbed (her) right hand and twisted her wrist’. The report indicates Ruble`s wife had visible injuries and redness. But even though Iowa law requires police to arrest Ruble, he wasn`t charged.
We repeatedly tried to get a comment from the police and the City Manager on the domestic abuse complaint and the tasing incident, but no one is willing to defend the officer`s actions.
We also took the tape to the American Civil Liberties Union. They say these tasings were way out of line.
Randall Wilson, ACLU Iowa Legal Director says, “There he used the taser first. Then told her what he wanted her to stop doing. So obviously this guy doesn’t know how to work with someone who has alleged mental problems.”
The ACLU also believes the Chariton Police Department does not have the right to withhold the video tape from us. The department cited HIPAA regulations, and in an e-mail claimed “the video is not included because it contains confidential medical information and cannot be edited.”
Wilson says, “I am not convinced that these are medical records falling within the definitions of HIPAA.”
He adds, “I suspect he’s also concerned he might be releasing embarrassing information about his officers.”
As for officer Ruble, the ACLU says he should be trained better, and no officer should ever use a taser as a punishment.
“I think this officer could have used more training and professionalism in this instance. I think that for a number of reasons the tasing got out of control,” says Wilson.
Under the state`s freedom of information law we requested a copy of any disciplinary action taken against Sergeant Ruble and a copy of the department`s policy on the use of tasers.
We were told sergeant Ruble was not disciplined and the department does not currently have a policy in place regarding the use of tasers.