Man paralyzed after being tasered - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Man paralyzed after being tasered

The incident happened here, in Coffee County The incident happened here, in Coffee County
Coffee County Sheriff Jerry Pope Coffee County Sheriff Jerry Pope

June 3, 2008

Coffee County -- Coffee County deputies were called on a domestic dispute at 358 Loblolly Avenue a little after 10:30 PM on Memorial Day. 

"We sent three deputies out there. He had shot the house up, shot at his wife supposedly, and she went over to her neighbor's house," said Coffee County Sheriff Jerry Pope. 

The woman told deputies that 37-year-old Joseph Steven Harper had been drinking all day and was taking Methadone. She told deputies that he got angry and starting hitting her.

That's when his nephew tried to stop him and called police. "He had held him at gunpoint and shot over his head three times. That's when he slipped away and called 911. Harper heard him and slipped out the back door," said Pope.

Two Ware county canine units and the three Coffee county deputies found Harper up a tree about five feet off the ground. "He had a loaded weapon with him, and he wouldn't respond. He just stood there and looked at us."

"And the officers had firearms and tasers on him. So we took the less lethal way and shot a taser at him. We couldn't take a chance because the last time in '01 a guy in Coffee county had run into the woods and killed two law officers," said Pope. 

That's when Harper fell on his head from the tree, and told officers he couldn't feel his legs. Harper was transported to Coffee Regional and was later transported to Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah.

Family members told us that doctors don't think he will ever walk again. But the Coffee County sheriff still stands behind the decision to taser him.

"I am really sorry, but when you go out there, you want to make sure that your men come home. And for public safety, we couldn't afford to lose him; he'd already shot his house up and shot at his neighbor," said Pope.

Charges against Harper are still pending. Harper is charged with aggravated assault, obstruction of a law enforcement agency, and discharging a firearm while intoxicated.

Harper remains hospitalized in serious condition.

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