Volusia deputies suspended over courtroom 'horseplay' involving Taser
Judge was on bench as deputies were 'joking back and forth,' report says
VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Two Volusia County deputies were suspended without pay after "horseplaying" and activating a Taser while court was in session, according to documents provided by the Sheriff's Office.
Officials said the incident happened in Judge James Clayton's DeLand courtroom on Oct. 17 while Deputy Veronica Hadd and Deputy Steven Wells were working security. The judge was seated and one prisoner, five attorneys, other deputies, court personnel and six members of the public were in the courtroom.
Records show that Wells, a courtroom bailiff who has worked for the Volusia County Sheriff's Office for 18 years, marked Hadd with a pen or marker as they were "joking back and forth." He also grabbed a microfiber rag and hit Hadd in the face with it, officials said.
Hadd then pulled out her Taser, took the cartridge off and activated it as it was pointed at the ground, according to the internal affairs report.
"I forgot until I watched the video and read my packet that I punched him first, but I guess I thought that wasn't enough, so I was going to one up his smack in the face, and I took my Taser out, and I took the cartridge off the front, and I kept it pointed at the ground, I pulled the trigger for like half a second and turned it off," Hadd told officials during an internal affairs investigation.
After the Taser was activated, Hadd grabbed the rag so Wells would not hit her with it againl She leaned on a counter next to Wells, and he pushed her arm off, documents show. She then left the courtroom.
"That kind of pissed me off, and before I wanted to, before it got worse, I left because I didn't want get, go any further," Hadd told officials.
Investigators said video from the courtroom showed Hadd putting the hood of her firearm holster down, but Hadd said she was just adjusting her uniform, the report said.
Both Hadd and Wells told investigators that they get along and have worked together since the incident without issue. Wells said it's just his "persona" to "horseplay with everybody," according to documents.
Hadd also said in regard to the Taser, "I mean I don't remember, but it's not like I was gonna shoot him," documents show.
The results of the internal affairs investigation was presented to Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, who agreed that Hadd violated department policies pertaining to horseplay, use and handling of weapons and other policies, while Wells was found to have violated policies regarding horseplay and knowledge of official directives, among other rule violations.
Originally, both deputies were to be suspended without pay for 40 hours, but it was later reduced to 16 hours, records show. Hadd served her suspension on March 22 and 23. Wells served his on March 1 and 2.
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