A Missouri police officer said he smelled marijuana inside a car during a weekend traffic stop and used his Taser on the teenage driver only after the boy became combative when ordered out of the vehicle, according to court documents.
Bryce Masters, 17, of Independence, has been hospitalized since he was hit with the stun gun Sunday after Independence police said he refused to get out of the car he was driving. A spokesman for Masters’ family, attorney Daniel Haus, has said the teen went into cardiac arrest after probes from the Taser struck him about six inches apart near his heart.
Masters initially was placed in a medically induced coma and treated for a lack of oxygen to the brain. He was upgraded Wednesday afternoon from critical to serious condition, and Haus said the teen has been speaking with doctors and his family.
The FBI is investigating whether the police officer, Tim Runnels, used excessive force. FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton has said the agency routinely gets involved when an officer is accused of using excessive force.
According to an application for a search warrant on the car Masters was driving, Runnels noticed the car’s windows were darkly tinted and ran a computer check, which revealed a warrant associated with the vehicle’s license plate. Runnels pulled the car over at 3:07 p.m. Sunday. The female owner of the vehicle wasn’t in the car.
Runnels said he smelled the odor of marijuana after the driver – who was recording the incident on an iPhone, which is legal – partially rolled down a passenger-side window, according to the document. The officer went around to the driver’s side and opened the door after Masters refused to roll the window completely down.
When Masters would not get out of the car, Runnels determined the boy was interfering with the investigation and told him he was under arrest. Masters, whose father is a Kansas City police officer, physically resisted and Runnels shot him in the chest with his Taser, the document says.
Police said a search Tuesday revealed drug paraphernalia in the car, along with an iPhone that was sent Wednesday to the FBI’s regional forensics lab in Kansas City.
Haus was out of town on Thursday and didn’t respond to requests for comment left earlier in the day.
Independence Police Department spokesman Tom Gentry declined to comment on the court documents because of the ongoing investigation.