The deputy who used a taser on an 84-year-old Harlowton man during a traffic stop last month used appropriate force, according to a review from the Montana Law Enforcement Academy.
The Montana Department of Justice was asked by the Wheatland County Attorney and sheriff’s office to investigate whether the deputy’s actions were appropriate.
The review, completed by Training Specialist Mike McCarthy, determined that Deputy Michael Barrett attempted to de-escalate the situation before deploying the taser, but Richard “Dick” Stoltz would not comply.
Stoltz was ultimately cited for driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license and obstructing a peace officer. He pleaded not guilty to each of the charges at his March court appearance.
McCarthy considered in his report the policy of the Wheatland County Sheriff’s Office in regard to the use of a taser.
The policy states that officers should be aware of the risk factors that accompany the taser and they should also understand that the risks are higher for children and senior citizens.
The policy does not prevent officers from using a taser on either high-risk group.
“Deputy Barrett was met with aggressive behavior by Mr. Stoltz on first contact which continued throughout the stop,” said McCarthy in his report.
McCarthy listened to the audio recording from the incident.
When the deputy attempted to use a drive stun with his taser, it had little to no effect on Stoltz, according to the report. According to the report, Stoltz responded to the use of the drive stun by saying “I am going to take your f***ing head off.”
As the deputy deployed the taser, Stoltz was reportedly still able to move and turn back towards the deputy. Backup officers had to tell Stoltz to quit fighting, according to the report, because he continued to be defensive as officers placed him in handcuffs.
According to McCarthy’s analysis, Deputy Barrett exhausted less intensive means of gaining compliance, but Stoltz would not cooperate.
“Deputy Barrett used the force necessary to control Mr. Stoltz and affect the arrest,” said McCarthy in the last line of his report.
Stoltz earlier confirmed the incident had occurred, but would not comment on the matter further.