Fairfax County

Jury Finds Fairfax Officer Who Used Stun Gun on Black Man Not Guilty of Assault

Fairfax County police Officer Tyler Timberlake was captured on video using a stun gun on a Black man in distress. His lawyers said it was a case of mistaken identity

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A jury found a Fairfax County, Virginia, police officer not guilty of using excessive force against a man in a June 2020 incident caught on body camera.

The officer, Tyler Timberlake, who is white, had faced three misdemeanor assault and battery charges for tasering Lamonta Gladney, who is Black. Timberlake has said he thought Gladney was someone else and said Gladney was high on PCP and uncontrollable when he approached the scene.

“I think one of the first things we need to do is kind of step back when these actions happen and investigate them properly before we immediately go on social media and make announcements about how terrible an action is without looking at all the facts, which is exactly what the commonwealth’s attorney did in this case,” said Timberlake’s attorney, Brandon Shapiro. “Went right to the media that night saying what a terrible act or what a terrible act. He didn’t even know any of the facts.”

The defense attorney said if there was a problem with what happened, the problem was with the department’s use of force policies, not with Timberlake.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said he was disappointed in the outcome of the trial but was not surprised.

“Disappointed in the verdict that we received today,” he said. “But I have to say I’m not disappointed for myself. I’m disappointed for my Black and brown neighbors in this community. I know that I don’t have to worry about leaving the house as a bald white man every day and worry that I’m going to get confused for someone else and get treated poorly, but that’s something that can’t be said for all of our community.”

La Monta Gladney shared his story Thursday after Officer Tyler Timberlake used a stun gun against him on June 5. The officer was arrested and charged with three counts of assault and battery. News4's Drew Wilder reports.

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News4's Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey has been covering this side of the state since joining NBC4 in 1992. She's joined by reporter Drew Wilder.

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On the day of the incident, other officers who had arrived at the scene before Timberlake had spent several minutes trying to persuade Gladney to get into an ambulance to go to a detox center.

Body camera footage released by police shows Timberlake fire his stun gun at the unarmed man multiple times. While Gladney was on the ground, video shows, Timberlake struck him and shocked him again.

In opening statements during the trial, Timberlake's attorneys said he used appropriate force given the situation.

They also said he thought Gladney was someone else. Bodycam video showed Timberlake calling him "Anthony." A man by that name, the defense attorney said, was violent and known to Timberlake.

The defense said Timberlake had experience arresting people who are high on PCP and Gladney appeared to be on the drug. They said toxicology tests later showed Gladney had PCP and cocaine in his system and despite the case of mistaken identity, Timberlake was responding appropriately.

Gladney described the incident as "traumatizing."

"True justice goes beyond any one case," Descano said in a news release. "True justice will be achieved when my Black and brown neighbors don’t have to fear for their well-being when they leave their homes."

Timberlake was placed on administrative duty when the files were charged. His attorney said it’s not clear if he will continue with department.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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