The Ocala Police Department has launched an internal afairs investigation involving four officers accused of roughing up and stunning a man with a Taser when he refused to drop his Quran or even take his hand off the bulky book, which was tucked into his waistband.

Deputy Chief Greg Graham said the complaint – made by Jeffrey Shields, 49, of Ocala – was sent to his office late Wednesday evening. Graham said he ordered the investigation Thursday morning.

The incident happened Aug. 31, when officers sought to question Shields. They said he fit the description of a man said to be carrying a gun and a large amount of drugs.

The officers are Officer Bernard Smith and Cpls. Jamie Buchbinder, Phillip Hazel and Doug Russell. They could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Graham said the officers are still on the job.

“Based on the reports that I read from all parties, I don’t see any reason to take those officers off the road,” he said.

There’s no video of the incident.

When police use force, like a Taser or firearm, the agency reviews what happened. The officer’s supervisor starts, then sends his findings up the chain of command through a lieutenant, captain, major and then Graham.

In this case, Graham said, the completed internal incident report was on his desk when the complaint from Shields came in.

The deputy chief would not say what the completed report said. The report is not a public record because of the pending internal affairs investigation.

The report and its findings were subject to public review before the Shields complaint came in. OPD spokesman Lou Biondi said the agency would not release the internal incident review report until the other investigation was complete.

The use of force incident report must be completed within 20 days of the incident. Wednesday was Day 20. (MORE)


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