COLWYN BOROUGH in Delaware County is less than a mile wide, but its police department is in deep trouble after its acting chief was suspended Wednesday while officials investigate the possible cover-up of an incident involving a juvenile who was shot by a Taser while handcuffed in a holding cell.
Deputy Chief Wendell Reed is the second officer to be suspended for the April 24 incident. The officer who allegedly administered the shock, Cpl. Trevor Parham, was suspended earlier this week, and a third officer who was there when it occurred is expected to be suspended, Colwyn Mayor Daniel Rutland said.
Reed was heading the department in the absence of Chief Bryan Hills, who remains out because of an unrelated legal battle with borough council.
Rutland has declared a state of emergency as the Delaware County District Attorney's Office investigates the use of the Taser. On Wednesday, county detectives removed boxes, computers and a Taser from the department.
Da'Qwan Jackson, the 17-year-old who alleges that Parham Tasered him in the holding cell, said he witnessed a fight on April 24 but refused to give Parham his name. Parham gave him a disorderly conduct citation, which Jackson threw on the ground. Jackson said Parham took him into custody and placed him in the cell with his legs and arms shackled.
Jackson said that he kicked the cell bars twice, prompting Parham to Taser him.
Rutland said the incident wasn't properly documented. He said he found out about it after receiving calls from concerned citizens four days later.
"I should have been informed, not kept in the dark," he said. "It's disturbing to me. It's not the way you run a department."
The only person from the department to notify him was Lt. Wesley Seitz, who investigated the incident, suspended Parham and will now act as head of the department, Rutland said.
According to sources, Reed was planning to fire Seitz Thursday in retaliation for investigating the incident and reporting it.
Seitz and Reed both declined to comment. Parham showed up at the department in civilian clothes Wednesday afternoon, but also refused to comment. Visible in the back seat of his vehicle was a bottle of pepper spray.
According to sources and the Cheyney University website, Parham also works as a police officer at the school, although that and his current employment status with the university could not be confirmed Wednesday night.
As for Rutland, he said he's just trying to do the right thing.
"I'm trying to rectify everything that's gone wrong in this town and it's hard to do," he said.