Taser incident leads to deputy’s suspension
The unnamed Coweta County Sheriff’s deputy who fired his taser at 16-year-old Gunner Cook as the student streaked in boxer shorts across the field at the recent football game between East Coweta High School and Newnan High School has been suspended.
Sheriff Mike Yeager said that while the deputy followed the taser policy there was no need to fire the taser even though the 16-year-old was non-compliant and did not follow the deputy’s order.
“The situation didn’t call for using (the taser). The officer admitted after the fact that it was a reaction,” Yeager said of the deputy’s action after he gave Cook verbal commands to stop running during a half-time ceremony. “But he didn’t tase him. He fell as it was deployed. (Cook) was never struck.”
Gunner’s mother,Lynn Cook, however, did maintain last week that her son was struck by one of the taser’s prongs that left a mark on his upper body.
Another facet of the suspension dealt with an incident that occurred minutes later near the concession area. It is one where a video showed the same officer yelling at a group of students to, “Get your asses back in the stands,” and followed up by suggesting that the group of students, “Act like you’ve got some sense.”
But according to Yeager, the video that also showed the deputy shoving one of the students in the group does not tell the whole story.
“The video is not truly indicative of what happened,” Yeager said. “The crowd (of students) was asked more than once to step back. The crowd was asked repeatedly to step back,” Yeager said. “Did (the deputy) use the right words? No.”
Yeager also acknowledged that the deputy did not use good judgment when he shoved the student.
“The suspension was based on the totality of the whole incident and the deputy will get remedial training,” said Yeager, adding that he and the deputy spoke about the need to have used more common sense that night.
Yeager noted that what was lost in the streaking incident, where Cook ran down the field wearing only his boxer shorts, was the half-time ceremony honoring several long-time school system staff.
Gunner Cook is still facing an obstruction charge that will be dealt with in the juvenile court system. And the 16-year-old was suspended from school until Dec. 3 and is prohibited from attending or participating in after-school activities for the remainder of the school year, according to Lynn Cook.
“I was fine with the school’s disciplinary decision because Gunner knew he did wrong,” Cook said of her son, adding that he maintains a B-average and has a spotless record with no past disciplinary problems. “He said he wished he hadn’t done it and he would try to stop someone else from doing the same thing.”