TAMPA - A Flagler University student is alleging a Tampa Police officer tased him four times. Now, his attorney is taking an unusual step in an attempt to get answers.
Cooper Stroman drove all the way from Jacksonville because he wanted his story to be heard. Joined with a friend who was at the USF football game against Syracuse and his attorney, John Lauro, the Flagler University student claims he was tased at least four times and has the marks to prove it.
"I was on the ground and this female cop was tasing me. There are cops all around me and the lady is jabbing the taser in my stomach. She says put your hands behind your back and I always assumed behind the back is behind the head. When I finally get it right, she throws me another one (taser) right in the back."
Stroman claims he did not have one drink and was just having fun with a group of seven friends. Originally from Syracuse, he says they had planned this trip for more than a year and bought the tickets from a USF ticket holder.
The only thing he can think of as to why his group was ejected was because they were in a highly visible USF section making a lot of noise.
"They (police) did not like us in that section. We were being loud. I think they assumed everyone around us had a problem with us, but they didn't. In fact, we were tailgating with them an hour earlier. We gave them some chicken off of our grill."
The allegation is troubling to Tampa Police. Spokesperson Laura McElroy says the officer, a female, followed procedure. McElroy describes Stroman as a combative and belligerent suspect who fought being ejected from the game, while his friends complied.
"We had gotten several complaints from fans that there was a disruptive group of fans. There was one individual in the group -- Stroman -- who was egging on the group. He was by far the most combative. He was using a lot of profanity and he was causing a large crowd to gather, which was extremely disruptive to the game."
McElroy went on to say, "Instead of listening to the officer's command, he chose to get into a physical fight with the officers. They told him to get down on the ground. They told him to put his hands behind his back, but he continued to physically struggle with the officers," forcing the officers to 'drive stun' him.
"The drive stun is when [officers] physically make contact with taser. It's not the typical kind of tasing that you have probably seen on TV, where it locks up your whole body. This is pain complaince. At the point where the taser touches you, it is very painful but it doesn't freeze up your body. The individual is able to continue fighting. It does not have the same impact as a typical tasing."
McElroy also said the officer had no choice.
"In this situation, they are trying to very quickly minimize the situation because you have a football game going on, and now a crowd is starting to gather around this combative suspect. So they were absolutely justified in using the taser to try and get him under control."
Stroman is 6 feet tall and weighs about 160 pounds. Lauro alleges tasing him that many times was not warranted. He has written a letter to Governor Charlie Crist requesting special counsel.
"I am a former federal prosecutor, and in thirty years I have never heard of anything like this. I would like answers and the reason for special counsel is why they picked on Cooper and these gentlemen."
Lauro also questions the charges. Stroman faces a misdemeanor -- resisting arrest without violence. If he really was aggressive like police say, why didn't the punishment fit the crime?
McElroy says it is not about arrests at these huge venues. "We may have to eject up to 50 kids who are under the influence of alcohol or are getting disruptive. Most of them don't face criminal charges. We're not there to arrest people. We are there to make sure there is safe environment to have fun and enjoy the football game, so we are going to eject the kids and typically there are not a lot of charges. This case is very consistent with that."
Stroman does not agree. He says he won't come back to the stadium. But, he also won't quit until gets gets some answers.
"I hope there are cameras or something that show the level of force that she did to me. And all those other cops. There was enough manpower down there to get a non-violent man on the ground, and not jab me in the stomach repeatedly like I am an animal."
Both sides say they have witnesses. Lauro says he will ask internal affairs to look into the case.
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