Apr 302009
 
Authors: Jim Sojourner

Two CSU veterinary students were arrested Saturday night for assaulting a peace officer and streaking after one of them was Tasered in a confrontation with campus police officers.

Britton Stubblefield and his girlfriend Elizabeth Maybach were arrested, and each was charged with assaulting a peace officer in the 2nd degree, obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest. Maybach was also charged with indecent exposure.

Interim CSU Police Department Chief Frank Johnson, who has been Tasered himself during training, said Tasers are “very effective if they’re used and make contact the way they’re supposed to” and said they “actually prevent officers and individuals from getting hurt” by avoiding physical conflict.

But two witnesses to the confrontation dispute the police accounts of the incident and say Stubblefield and Maybach were victims of excessive force and trumped up charges.

According to the police report, CSUPD officers Christopher Wagner and Wesley Fuller were working security for the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital Junior Senior Class Banquet in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom when, at about 10:45 p.m., the officers saw three women running fully naked through the crowd.

The officers contacted the women later when they returned fully clothed. Officers asked to speak to the women, one of whom was identified as Maybach, about the streaking incident when Stubblefield approached them.

The report says Stubblefield asked the officers what was going on with his girlfriend and Wagner asked him to step back. Stubblefield then told Wagner no. After arguing, Stubblefield said, “F**k you, I will stay right here,” and refused to leave, according to the report. Wagner wrote that he moved to place an open hand on Stubblefield’s chest to move him away.

According to the report, Stubblefield slapped Wagner’s hand away. The officer and student ended up wrestling on the floor. Stubblefield continued to resist, and, Wagner Tasered him.

The probes did not penetrate Stubblefield’s clothing, and he received no shock, at which point Stubblefield rolled over and knocked the Taser away.

At the same time, as Wagner took control of Stubblefield, Maybach approached him from behind and struck him in the head. But Fuller said he took physical control of Maybach, forced her against the nearest wall and radioed for backup, which arrived minutes later.

Maybach and Stubblefield were uncooperative even after their arrests, when officers took Maybach to Larimer County Detention Center and Stubblefield to an area hospital.

Stubblefield, uncooperative with hospital staff, was later taken to LCDC.

Both Maybach and Stubblefield had been drinking, according to the report.

Chad Zadina, another veterinary student, filmed the incident after the Tasering and gave a much different account.

In her voluntary witness form, Zadina’s wife, Heather, an attorney, said Stubblefield initially approached the officers and asked about their discussion with Maybach. She wrote that Wagner pushed Stubblefield, telling him to get back.

When Stubblefield asked that Wagner refrain from pushing or touching him, Wagner wrestled him to the ground. Heather Zadina reported that she never saw Stubblefield swing or strike at any of the officers.

Chad Zadina’s report also notes that Wagner was aggressive from the get go, refusing to answer any questions and pushing Stubblefield. His report says that “at no time” did Stubblefield swing at Wagner, who wrestled him down and Tasered him without warning.

Both Zadinas also asserted that Maybach never swung at any officers.

Chad Zadina told the Collegian that Stubblefield should have been more compliant, but said he experienced “less than human treatment.” The police report also says Chad Zadina, a former police officer, said Wagner “had used excessive force and was verbally hostile.”

“We’re a bunch of future doctors. How bad can we be?” Chad Zadina said.

He further expressed concern about the officer’s readiness to use the Taser and said he was troubled by the loose CSUPD restrictions.

Johnson defended the Tasering, saying the device’s use constitutes a low level of force.

He said it can be used in a variety of situations such as when people are not obeying commands, are resisting or are physically or verbally confrontational.

Neither Maybach nor Stubblefield returned phone calls from the Collegian.

Assistant News Editor Jim Sojourner can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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