McAlester police officer charged with assault frequently used his Taser, police say

A McAlester police officer charged with assault with a dangerous weapon for using his Taser on a handcuffed woman in June has a history of deploying the nonlethal device in the course of his duty. McAlester is in southeastern Oklahoma.
by Andrew Knittle Modified: October 23, 2012 at 9:55 pm •  Published: October 24, 2012

A McAlester police officer charged with a felony after using his Taser on a handcuffed woman in June has a history of deploying the device in the course of his duty.

Sterling Taylor-Santino, 33, faces an assault with a deadly weapon charge after he used his Taser on Nakina Williams, who was handcuffed. The officer said Williams spit on him immediately before he used the Taser.

At the time of the June 24 incident at the Pittsburg County jail, Taylor-Santino had been involved in 10 of 16 Taser incidents involving McAlester police officers, according to the department's use-of-force reports. The officers began carrying the nonlethal weapons in February 2010.

High assault rate

Taylor-Santino also has been the victim of a high number of on-duty assaults, said Jeremy Beaver, an attorney representing Williams.

“He's like 10 times more likely than any other MPD officer to get into a violent confrontation,” Beaver said. “Why is that?”

Taylor-Santino, a five-year member of the McAlester department, also was named as a defendant in four separate civil rights lawsuits filed in federal court — all of them in 2003.

Documents related to the four federal cases weren't available for this story, but online court records show that settlements were reached in three of the lawsuits. A fourth lawsuit was dismissed.

A review of the McAlester Police Department use-of-force policy suggests that Taylor-Santino may have broken the rules because of the woman's size and the fact that she was restrained at the time, Beaver said.

“Even if she wasn't handcuffed ... there's no reason to use the Taser on her,” he said. “He didn't even have a reason to be talking to her at that point ... she was in the Pittsburg County jail.”

The incident

A video of the June 24 incident shows the officer stunning Williams at point-blank range, within 40 seconds of her entering the booking area.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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