JACKSONVILLE BEACH — Jacksonville Beach Police are under scrutiny for the use of excessive force following an incident at Surfer The Bar in Jacksonville Beach on Sunday.
A video that was posted on Facebook shows Christopher Alan White standing outside of the establishment calmly talking to a police officer before being shot with a stun gun.
White, who seemed unaffected by the first shot, can be heard saying, “stop doing that” in the video.
Another cop proceeds to shoot White a second time before he is put in a headlock and beaten with a baton.
“I’m not fighting,” White can be heard saying as an officer hits him with a baton.
In a statement, Jacksonville Beach police spokesman Sgt. Thomas Crumley said, “It is best that we not rush to judgment with any statements condemning or commending the officers and their actions. We will continue to gather all of the facts and review all of the evidence available in this case.”
Police allege that White had punched a bouncer and walked out on a $235 bar tab.
White, a large man, was finally brought down by a third stun gun shot.
The officer reported that he deployed the Taser because White would not submit to being handcuffed.
Ken Jefferson, a former Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, believes the use of force was unnecessary.
“Not when you have backup there and additional backup on the way. There’s not enough reason for you to Taser someone just because they won’t give you their hand, despite his size,” he said.
“I was just protecting myself. I didn’t want to get hurt,” White, who disputes walking out or punching anyone, said yesterday.
He says a bartender was angry after fraud protection froze his credit card.
“So, she started yelling, ‘You need to pay your bill. You need to pay your bill.’ I said, ‘Ma’am, I have another card,’” White said.
According to a transaction statement, White did pay his $235 tab, as well as a $50 tip he says he didn’t authorize.
After paying his bill, he says he was assaulted with a beer bottle, which left him disoriented.
“After that, I was stumbling and went outside. And I was trying to explain to the cop that, ‘Hey, I paid my tab and I was hit in the head with a bottle.’ And I couldn’t get a word in edgewise,” White said.
Jon McGowan, who says he witnessed the incident, offers a different version of the events.
“They had to actually drag him out. It took about four or five people to get him out of the bar. And during the time, he was very red-faced, screaming, yelling, swinging,” McGowan said, adding White also threw some punches.
“He was violent, and he was very violent in the bar and he had been violent outside the bar as well.” McGowan said.
One of White’s friends, Deborah Deen, 62, claims police threatened to stun her as well.
“I was like, ‘Why did you do that?’ to one of the female officers. And she says, ‘Well, do you want to be next?’” Deen said.