The Houston County Sheriff’s Office launched an internal investigation Monday after a weekend traffic stop in which a sheriff’s deputy used a Taser on a Forsyth pastor who had just witnessed his son being handcuffed and put into a police cruiser.
Chief Deputy Billy Rape said that Deputy C.B. Miller, 33, appears to have acted appropriately based on the incident report and talking with the deputy and other officers. However, “We want to hear from both sides,” Rape said.
Miller, who has been with the sheriff’s office since July 2000, is on regular duty while the incident is being investigated.
The family, which lodged a complaint with the sheriff’s office Monday, believes that the officer’s actions were unjustified.
James Z. Parker, 44, an associate pastor for Cathedral of Faith Family Church in Forsyth, remained hospitalized Monday at Houston Medical Center where he was transported after complaining of chest pains after the stun gun was used on him, said his wife, Stephanie Parker.
According to the incident report, Miller pulled over Jaymez Parker, 21, of Byron, for a seat belt violation on Russell Parkway on Sunday afternoon and learned he was driving on a suspended license. He was driving his sister’s car, who was a passenger.
The traffic stop took place in the CVS parking lot at Russell Parkway and Lake Joy Road at 1:48 p.m.
Parker told Miller that his license was suspended for failing to pay a ticket, the report said.
While the officer was arresting Parker for driving on a suspended license, his father, who arrived in another vehicle, walked toward the officer wanting to know what was going on.
The deputy told the father, later identified as James Z. Parker, to go back to his pickup truck and he would talk with him in a few minutes, the report states. But the father continued toward the officer, saying, “I have the right to know what’s going on.”
The father continued to interfere with the arrest, including telling his daughter to get out of the car, according to the report.
Miller told the father he was going to arrest him for interfering in an investigation. The father refused to obey the deputy’s instructions to turn around to be handcuffed. As the deputy grabbed the father’s left arm to arrest him, a scuffle ensued and the deputy used a Taser to subdue the father, the report states.
Stephanie Parker was in the pickup truck and witnessed the incident. When reached Monday by phone, she said her husband complied with the deputy’s instructions to return to the pickup, but he continued to ask his daughter — and not the deputy — what was going on. After her son was placed in the police car, Parker said an angry Miller walked over to her husband, pointed a finger in his face and told him to shut up when he was told to shut up.
She said her husband told the deputy that he had the right of freedom of speech, that he hadn’t done anything wrong and that he had a right to know what was happening to their son.
Stephanie Parker said that her husband’s voice also was raised and that he did not turn his hands and place them on his pickup truck as instructed by the deputy. She said the officer took her husband to the ground and as he was trying to get up, the deputy used the Taser on him and put his knee in the middle of her husband’s back. She said her husband cried out that he was in pain.
“What happened was very unnecessary,” Stephanie Parker said. She also stated her son had paid a fine and was released.
To contact writer, Becky Purser, call 923-3109, extension 243.