Pa. union plans protest after officer’s 10-day suspension for using TASER at traffic stop
A woman, who was pulled over for tailgating, refused orders to get out of the vehicle, roll down her windows or provide officers with insurance and driver’s license information
By Bill Carey
LOWER MERION TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The Lower Merion police union announced they plan to appeal what the president calls an unfair and mismatched 10-day suspension of an officer who used a TASER on a woman during a traffic stop.
President, John S. Iushewitz said the union plans to take the suspension of officer Charles Murphy to arbitration and protest the decision at a meeting of the township commissioners, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Murphy became the subject of a department investigation in January after video footage of him using a TASER on Chaine Jordan was spread across social media.
Murphy attempted to pull Jordan over for tailgating a pickup truck. Jordan, who was driving with a suspended license, initially refused to pull over, but later pulled into a parking lot. Police said, she refused orders to get out of the vehicle, roll down her tinted windows, or provide officers with her insurance paperwork and driver's license.
Murphy's decision to use a TASER on Jordan to remove her from her car prompted an internal investigation and drew criticism from a branch of the NAACP and police accountability activists.
After a two-month investigation, Lower Merion Police Superintendent Michael McGrath recommended that Murphy be suspended for eight hours without pay. McGrath said Murphy violated multiple departmental policies, including best practices for pursuing drivers, de-escalation, and body cameras. McGrath also said Murphy did not properly sync his body-worn camera at the start of his shift and footage of the encounter with Jordan was recorded only by cameras worn by his colleagues who responded to the scene.
In a township committee meeting, commissioner Daniel Bernheim superseded McGrath's recommendation and increased the suspension tenfold, citing the seriousness of Murphy's conduct. The measure passed 9-4, with some commissioners saying stronger discipline was in order.
"We agree the officer should face discipline, but the discipline has to match details. There was no excessive force, no bias. I've asked anyone to explain why 10 days and nobody can," Iushewitz said.
"We are afraid to properly and proactively do our job because of that decision," Iushewitz continued. "It is clear Lower Merion police officers have no support from their board. The message was clear that the officers are subject to the whims of social media."