Heated Colwyn council meeting amid Taser probe

May 3, 2012 9:14:55 PM PDT
The borough council in Colwyn has voted to lift a state of emergency declared after three officers were suspended in fallout over the alleged use of a stun gun on a handcuffed teenage suspect.

"I understand everyone wants to know what is going on. We all do," Council President Tonette Pray said at a meeting Thursday night.

Colwyn Mayor Daniel Rutland says he decided late Wednesday to declare a state of emergency because there weren't enough officers to patrol the streets. At the Thursday night meeting, Colwyn's borough council voted 4-3 to lift the state of emergency and reinstate Lt. Wendell Reed as officer-in-charge.

"I request that you hand over my badge, my gun, my keys to my building, so I can do what the business of the bureau is and that's protect the citizens and their right to Colwyn," Reed said.

After the meeting, the bickering continued outside the borough hall when Reed confronted the mayor about his reinstatement.

"Did council reinstate me?" Reed asked Rutland.

"Sure they reinstated you," Rutland replied.

"Ok, so I have a right to go into the police department, correct?" Reed said.

"You're not on duty tonight," Rutland said.

"I don't have to be on duty to go into the police department. I have a right to go into the police department, correct? I'm not on duty. I'm not working. I have a right to go into the police department, correct?" Reed said.

"Yes, you can go into the police department," the mayor said.

"Thank you so much," Reed said and walk away.

Allegations say Cpl. Trevor Parham used a Taser on a 17-year-old male, Da'Qwaun Jackson, while he was handcuffed inside the department's jail cell on April 24th for refusing to answer questions about a fight he had just witnessed.

Sources say Parham later allegedly sent a text message to another officer saying "I just tasered this boy. LOL."

"The cell was closed, he had to get the key and he opened it and he tased me right in front of another cop," Jackson told Action News.

Sources say Lt. Wesley Seitz went to Mayor Rutland and exposed the alleged tasing and coverup of the 17-year-old.

Deputy Chief Wendell Reed and a witness, Officer Michael Drucker, are accused of taking part in the coverup.

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania State Police troopers were on hand as the mayor told the Parham, Reed, and Drucker they were being place on paid leave, and to turn in their guns and badges pending the outcome of the investigation.

Though Reed was reinstated at Thursday night's council meeting, Trevor Parham and Michael Drucker remain on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an independent investigation.

Sources within the police department and residents say the alleged incident has now turned into a political power play, pitting Council President and Democrat Tonette Pray against Mayor Rutland, a Republican.

Residents sappear to be taking sides in the political issue.

"He's been a great police chief since he's been here. I just can't imagine some news as such would have come to his attention and he would have covered it up. I just can't see it," resident Christopher Broach said.

"There's larger issues here, the state has to come in. The right thing hasn't been done in this town since Toinette Pray has taken over," resident Freddy Lesher said.

As for the investigation, county investigators served a search warrant on Wednesday and among the items recovered were a Taser, computer and other records.

The Delaware County district attorney is investigating.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.