Target 8: Hermann Police Officer Laughs at TASER Incident
HERMANN - A Hermann man is appealing his conviction for resisting arrest after a YouTube video shows what his attorney calls "excessive force" with a TASER in the incident, which took place in November 2012.
A judge found Wayne Gerling guilty of resisting arrest, however Gerling's attorney, Samuel Trapp, said Tuesday he is confident the appeal will go in his client's favor. Trapp also said the next thing he will do if a jury finds Gerling not guilty will be to sue Officer Matthew Waite for excessive force and violating Gerling's Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights.
According to Wayne Gerling, Waite knocked on his door around 10 p.m. on November 18, 2012 to give him a ticket for parking a commercial truck in the street, a violation of Hermann city ordinances.
Trapp said the video shows that after a verbal altercation, Gerling turns to walk back into his house. Waite responds by TASERing him in front of Gerling's 9-year-old grandson. According to Gerling's wife, Ginny Gerling, her husband then fell on top of a coffee table, hitting his shoulder. Gerling said he was unable to work for several months after the incident.
"That's what bothers him the most," Ginny Gerling said, "He can't work and the cop who did this still has his job. He's still out on the streets."
While the video spread word of the incident around Hermann, a local gas station employee said Monday Waite has joked with her about the event.
"He came in one day joking around about it," Arial Osborne said, "I never heard the whole story until later."
KOMU 8 reached Waite to ask about the incident, but he said he didn't know anything about the court case, and refused to comment on the incident or the women's statements. One final call to reach him ended up with someone on the other end picking up and immediately hanging up the phone.
Frank Tennant serves as Hermann Chief of Police as well as Hermann City Administrator. Tennant refused to comment on the situation or return phone calls. He directed any questions to Hermann Prosecuting Attorney Ada Brehe-Krueger, who also refused to schedule an interview or answer questions. Hermann Mayor Dolores Grannemann also refused to comment. A woman who identified herself as the city accounting clerk--but refused to give her name--stated no city officials would provide a statement.
People expressed outrage over Waite's actions, but nearly all refused to give their names based on fear of what the police might do to them.
Several business owners said police could ruin their stores.
"It's a small town," one resident who refused to give his name said. "We have two really bad cops right now and if you piss them off they can make your life hell. They all stick together."