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Pregnant Woman Tased by Police
A woman who is eight months pregnant was tased by Springfield Police after she reported a car accident in the parking lot of Best Buy on Saturday. The woman in question is 29-year-old Lucinda White. Her boyfriend, 31-year-old Frederic Thomas was also tased and taken to jail for assaulting a police officer. Was it excessive force -- tasing the pregnant woman -- or did Springfield Police act accordingly?
Thomas and White were released from the Sangamon County jail on Sunday evening. His bond was $350 according to the couple. She paid nothing. While they are both looking to put this situation in the past, there is still the question of who exactly is the victim here. Is it the expecting couple or officers who say the two just wouldn't follow their instructions? We have to wait for any surveillance video and for an actual police report of the incident but not for their accounts of what happened.
"I'm pulling on my daughter's father. I did not touch a police officer. I know not to touch a police officer," White said.
Hell broke loose after the man she accuses of hitting her car at Best Buy denied it, and Springfield Police were called to resolve the situation.
"I was face down in the pavement after being tased-- that's when I seen my daughter's mother--knees in her back, stomach all in the concrete--face down," Thomas said.
Springfield Police say the couple's behavior warranted officer restraint.
"She was-- her and her boyfriend were both actively fighting with an officer and they used the force that was necessary to affect the arrest," Deputy Chief Cliff Buscher with the Springfield Police Department said.
We found out about the incident from Paul Newton who works here at ABC Newschannel 20. He happened to be there, and watched it unfold on Saturday.
"They told her get down on the ground face down, and she's trying to plead with them I can't get on the ground, I'm pregnant. I can't do that and they told her once again. And she-- she's just trying to plead with them and then right away they hit her with the taser," Newton said.
He explains that from his perspective Thomas appeared to get more aggressive when officers threatened to tase his pregnant girlfriend.
"I thought she was trying to comply with them, but I-- it sounds like she was worrying about her pregnancy and she didn't want to get face down on the ground," Newton said.
What is the policy of Springfield Police when considering using a taser on a pregnant woman?
"We would try to avoid it if at all possible mostly because... not the taser itself but the secondary, the fall. We don't want somebody falling and hurting their self or their baby," Buscher said.
He explains that officers "drive stunned" White and Thomas-- meaning any pain should have been localized to the place the taser touched their bodies. On the pregnant woman police say that place was her thigh.
We spoke with the "Taser" company by phone. Springfield Police did use the weapon properly according to their standards, but they also warn about secondary injuries like falling because it could impact pregnancy.
We expect to get a copy of the police report on Tuesday. We've also expressed interest in any video surveillance of the incident, though we have not yet made the request in writing. White tells us she could feel her baby shaking for several hours after the tasing, but Springfield Police say she refused EMS treatment on the scene. White visited Memorial Medical Center on Monday. She says a doctor there told her - the baby seems to be okay. The couple tell us they are expected in court May first.