PJC’s Adult Basic Education student, 17-year-old Victor Steen, lost his life early morning Oct. 3 after fleeing a construction site in Brownsville.
A News release states, Officer Jerald Ard, 35, from Pensacola Police Department saw Steen take off on his bicycle and proceeded to chase him with his cruiser. Ard tried to stop Steen with verbal commands, lights, and then a Taser stun gun.
Shortly after the Taser was fired, Steen turned down R Street where he crashed his bicycle and was run over by Ard’s patrol car. Whether the Taser hit Steen is uncertain.
“It is my understanding that at the time this incident occurred there wasn’t a policy with Pensacola Police Department saying that you cannot fire a Taser from a moving vehicle,” said PJC Police Chief, Nancy Newland. “Since that time, they have come up with that policy.”
The Pensacola News Journal posted “Assistant Chief Chip Simmons [from Pensacola Police Department] sent a memo saying officers are not allowed to fire their stun guns out of or into moving vehicles” in news report Oct. 10.
Newland also said, “Being on a posted construction site is a felony in Florida.” However, all detailed information will not be disclosed until the investigation is completed; meanwhile, Ard is awaiting further notice on administrated leave.
“I was favorably impressed by Victor,” said London Bradshaw, Steen’s instructor. “He was quiet, polite, bright, and self-motivated in his studies.”
Steen attended reading comprehension, writing, and basic geometry classes at Richards Memorial United Methodist Church in Brownsville, an off-campus PJC location, for a total of three weeks before his death.
“Consequentlty, we didn’t get to know him well and class reaction was less than had he been a student since the term began,” said Bradshaw.
According to Newland, when people witness a critical situation, like Ard or the witnesses who saw Steen die at Sluggo’s, “they have common reactions.”
“Officers who go through critical accidents have normal emotions,” Newland said. “They are human beings who pay bills and have families, just like you.”
“I’d be glad to meet with anyone who is having a difficult time dealing with what happened that night, and give them a little education on the normal reactions they would have to a situation like that,” said Newland.