Pinellas deputy fired for excessive force in traffic stop

Pinellas deputy fired for excessive force

Lies and excessive force are what Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says got a deputy fired.

“Everybody, especially a deputy sheriff, has to tell the truth. If you don't tell the truth, you won't work here. It’s that simple,” Gualtieri said.

The sheriff says video helped reveal the truth about Deputy Wayne Wagner bad behavior during a traffic stop.

About 9:40 p.m. on March 25, Wagner pulled over a car into the Mobil station at 10021 4th St. N. in St. Petersburg, according to the sheriff's office. He arrested the driver for driving on a suspended license, then directed the woman to get out of the vehicle.

“She takes the driver’s license out of his hand, and then turns to walk away. At that point, Deputy Wagner slammed Taylor up against the side of the vehicle, and then took her to the ground and used improper force,” says Sheriff Gualtieri.

Gualtieri told 10News that the violence Wagner used on Paige Taylor was too much, but insists what happened next was worse – the deputy claimed she attacked him.

On the dashcam video of the incident, you hear Wagner call out on the radio, “I'm in a fight!”

Taylor calmly responds as she’s on the ground, “You’re not in a fight officer.” She then says, “Stop!  What are you doing?”

Wagner: “You're under arrest.”

Taylor: “For what?”

Wagner: “For battery on a law enforcement officer.”

Taylor: “I didn't do anything to you.”

The sheriff said the Wagner then lies to his backup, saying Taylor shoved him and he arrested her for it.
“He demonstrates that Taylor pushed him. That just simply didn't happen,” Gualtieri said.

The deputy continued to stick to his story for months in follow-up reports.

Taylor filed a complaint and the department launched an internal investigation. Charges were dropped against Taylor.

The sheriff said the video uncovers the truth.

“As the video clearly shows, Taylor didn't touch deputy Wagner at all. There's absolutely no room for a deputy sheriff to not tell the truth,” Gualtieri said.

Records from Wagner’s personnel file show this wasn't the first time he’d been in trouble since joining the department in 2014. He got a week suspension earlier this year for a chase topping 130 miles an hour without emergency lights on U.S. Hwy. 19. 

He crashed as part of a motorcade escorting vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, then got busted sending a picture of his privates to a gas station employee while working at Winter Springs Police Department, near Orlando.

To download Wagner's public record files and reports, click here.

Taylor's attorney told 10News that she's still fearful of law enforcement, but feels Wagner's firing is justice.
 

(© 2016 WTSP)


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