Tavares police chief recommends officer be fired after using Taser on man
The police chief of the Tavares Police Department has recommended that an officer be fired for violating several of the department's standards and policies stemming from an incident over the summer after the officer Tased a man without conducting an official traffic stop, the police department said.
The officer in question is Officer Jason Baugh.
"Officer Baugh acted outside of policy and standard practice. When we learned of this incident, we took immediate action to rectify it," Police Chief Sarah Coursey said in a prepared statement. "His actions are not indicative of how our officers act towards our community in which we serve and protect."
The alleged incident happened on Aug. 6, 2022.
According to the internal affairs investigative report, Officer Baugh followed a vehicle that he felt "sort of took off from me," but never turned on his police lights to conduct the traffic stop. He later found the vehicle parked at a home.
In body-cam video, Officer Baugh approaches the home and a man walks out from the backyard. The officer asks the man if the car was his and if he was driving, and then tells him to "come here and talk to me."
The man, who appears to be on the phone, walks back toward the home and indicates he needs to get someone else. In a span of seconds, the officer runs after the man, tells him to stop, and Tases him. The investigative report alleges Officer Baugh then forcibly entered the home and pointed his firearm at the man, as others were inside the home.
The investigative report found that Officer Baugh never told the man he was under arrest or being detained. He was also unable to provide the investigator with specific facts or evidence that the man was a threat to his safety to justify his pulling his firearm out.
"Officer Baugh's use of force is injectable unreasonable," the report said. These policies were violated, according to the report: response to resistance, code of conduct, mobile recording devices, motor vehicle pursuit, department vehicles, field interviews, and traffic enforcement.
A spokesperson for Tavares Police Department said the investigative phase of the investigation is complete which led to the recommendation for Officer Baugh's termination, and that the disciplinary phase of the investigation is underway, which could finalize the officer's termination.
Officer Baugh can appeal the decision.