The Florida Highway Patrol have cleared 267-pound Trooper Daniel Cole of wrongdoing and have released a disturbing dash cam video that captured him tasing a 100 pound, 20 year old handcuffed girl in the back as she fled.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement determined Trooper Daniel Cole's "use of force" was justified when he tased the woman last September at the FHP Pinellas Park Substation and cleared him of wrongdoing.
The fleeing woman, Danielle Maudsley, 20, suffered severe brain damage after hitting her head on the concrete and has been in a persistent vegetative state ever since.
The video shows Maudsley fleeing a back door of the substation with Cole following closely behind.
Maudsley was arrested for her alleged involvement in two hit-and-run crashes and driving without a license.
Cole brought Maudsley to the substation to complete his paperwork before taking her to the Pinellas County Jail, according to FHP reports.
As she enters the parking lot, Cole deploys his taser and Maudsley hits the ground hard, with her head slamming into the asphalt.
"What were you thinking? What are you, stupid?," Cole can be heard asking Maudsley on the video.
"I can't get up," said Maudsley.
"I don't want you to get up," said Cole.
"I can't get up," Maudsley said again. The last words Maudsley has spoken since being tasered.
On the video, Maudsley loses consciousness about two minutes after hitting her head.
Maudsley's mother said the trooper should have used other means to stop her daughter from fleeing.
"He was right behind her. He could've reached out," Maudsley said. "It was unnecessary."
The mother hired defense attorney Kevin Haylsett, who put FHP on notice for a lawsuit.
Hayslett said Cole violated FHP's taser policy which states:
"Fleeing cannot be the sole reason for the deployment."
"When you shoot someone in the back, and they're running away, all that force -- as you saw when Danielle's head hit the concrete -- that's why they don't allow you to do that, because you can have horrible tragedies like this," Hayslett said.
With any rule, there is an exception.
An Office of Inspector General Investigation Unit report states: "Although the FHP policy on Electronic Control Devices states that a member should not use the device on a handcuffed prisoner, it also provides that there may be situations that conflict with this policy."
The report goes on to state: "In this situation, Maudsley ... removed one of her handcuffs while in the back of Cole's patrol car, and moved her handcuffs from behind her back, to in front of her body, as she attempted to flee the FHP Station. In addition, Maudsley was running towards US Highway 19 which is a high volume road."
According to the report, Maudsley had oxycodone and cocaine in her system at the time.
"The Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted an independent review of the incident," FHP spokesperson Sgt. Steve Gaskins said. "Their investigation found that the trooper's actions were legal and within the scope of his duties."
"He would've been better off to use his nightstick on her than he would a taser," Hayslett said.
The attorney also pointed out that Maudsley only weighs about 100 pounds.
In the report, Cole said he chose to use the taser because he "felt she was more susceptible to being injured if he attempted to tackle her." Cole weighs approximately 267 pounds.
Hayslett called the dash cam video disturbing. "It's one of those videos -- when you see it and you watch her head hit the pavement -- that it's hard to get those images out of your head," he said.
Maudsley's mom said her daughter's prognosis is not good. She is likely to remain in a vegetative state.
Maudsley is now in a Ft. Lauderdale rehab center that specializes in severe brain injuries.