EPD says firefighter detention was legal

Published: Aug. 15, 2013 at 9:32 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2013 at 9:32 PM CDT
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An incident involving Evansville Police Officers and an Evansville Firefighter is going viral.

At least one national website, Gawker, has picked up the story.

Meanwhile, those two officers are being investigated after the firefighter says he was unfairly detained and threatened.

Police tell 14 News the officers in question are veterans on the force who knew what they were doing.

George Madison tells us two officers stopped him at Weinbach and Kathleen, just two blocks from Riverside Drive on Tuesday afternoon.

He says he was handcuffed, thrown to the ground and threatened with a taser.

According the run card, Madison told the officers he was trying to make a phone call to Police Chief Billy Bolin or local pastor Adrian Brooks.

Documents show one officer told Madison to put it away and he continued to make the call.

Officials say the officer reached for the phone and Madison pulled away.

It was at that point officials say one officer pulled out his taser and told Madison to get to the ground.

Police officials say warning a person before the use of threat is their policy.

That's when the viral photo of Madison was taken by a passerby.

Madison says he thinks he was stopped because officers mistook him waving, a flipping them off, but officials say that's not the case.

According to the run card, the officers stopped Madison because he ran a stop sign.

"The stop was legal, the hand gesture occurred after the violation," says Sgt. Jason Cullum. "Looking at the run card, the officers never mention the finger being given, they just say an aggressive hand gesture. Mr. Madison actually put that they thought something about the finger being given, but we have not heard that from the officers. It's kind of a moot point at the police department because he is constitutionally allowed to give the finger to a policeman."

Police Chief Billy Bolin says Madison and the two officers will be interviewed next week after Madison files a formal complaint.

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