An internal investigation by the Temple Police Department into a claim filed by a Killeen man that police used excessive force when arresting him concluded the officers’ arrest maneuvers were reasonable for the situation, Police Chief Gary Smith said.
Thomas Keifer was charged with evading arrest with a vehicle, driving with an invalid license and resisting arrest following a high-speed police chase March 4. He was later convicted and sentenced to 10 years for the evading arrest charge.
“The findings of our internal review were that Temple Police Department officers acted reasonably and in accordance with TPD standard operating procedures and in accordance with applicable state and federal law. Specifically, the internal review found that the force applied during the arrest of Mr. Keifer was limited, reasonable and warranted by the situation,” Smith said.
Five police dash-cam videos showed various views of the pursuit and arrest after Keifer was spotted driving recklessly.
Keifer and his attorney, Robert Harris, never argued the fact that he broke the law by evading arrest in a vehicle and by not having a driver’s license.
The two believed the number of officers responding and the degree of forced used after his client stopped were excessive, Harris said.
“When Mr. Kiefer stopped, the officers attempted to remove him from his car as quickly as possible so that he could not resume his flight and away from any possible weapons he might have,” Smith said. “Of course, had the vehicle moved again, it would have been very dangerous for the public and our officers. Since Mr. Kiefer was struggling to remain in the car, the officers used methods of control, including the use of a Taser, that stopped the suspect’s resistance, brought him under control and ultimately prevented serious injury to Mr. Kiefer, the officers and the public. The officers involved in the arrest likely prevented serious injury to Mr. Kiefer or themselves by using the degree of force that they used.”
Smith said the only injury Keifer received was from the removal of the Taser probes from his skin. Smith described the arrest type as a “swarm technique.” He said it is intended to bring the arms and legs of a suspect under control to prevent injuries to all involved.
“Suspects that cannot be brought under control in this manner may force officers to progressively increase the use of force to accomplish an arrest. In this case, the officers used limited and measured responses to bring the situation to a close without serious injury to any person,” Smith said.
“I understand what Chief Smith is saying,” Harris said. “TPD is saying their response was appropriate based on the fact Mr. Keifer ran from them. But if they’re saying he did something after the vehicle stopped, I don’t agree with that.”
“If TPD is saying it is OK to tase someone four times because he doesn’t stop immediately, I don’t buy it. Their job is to enforce the law, not to punish. And I think getting tased that many times is punishment.” Keifer is appealing his conviction, Harris said.