Smithville, OH – A school resource officer has been suspended for arcing the stun gun part of her Taser to wake up a sleeping high school student.
Smithville Police Officer Maryssa Boskoski took the cartridge off of her Taser on Aug. 30, and activated the stun gun portion of it to create a zapping sound to wake up a junior sleeping nearby in study hall, WEWS reported.
The incident began when the male student refused to wake up for Liberty Preparatory School’s Interim Principal Jenna Parnell.
Parnell told The Daily Record that she woke up the boy, and that he had fallen back asleep by the time she crossed to the other side of the classroom.
She said the student was tired from working late the night before.
That’s when Officer Boskoski, the school resource officer assigned to Liberty Prep, “pulled out the Taser.”
“I thought it was a joke, honestly,” Parnell told The Daily Record. “It was just an attempt to wake him up.”
Officer Boskoski “just pulled [the Taser] out and pushed the button to make the sound,” Parnell explained.
“It was not anything malicious,” Parnell insisted, adding that the officer was standing four to five feet away from the student when she activated the Taser.
Parnell said the combination of the sparking noise and ensuing commotion from other students woke up the sleeping student, The Daily Record reported.
Smithville Police Chief Howard Funk told WEWS that Parnell had violated the police department’s Taser policy by her actions.
"It's unfortunate and I'm disappointed that this took place. It's something I would not have expected from any of our officers," Chief Funk said.
The chief explained that Officer Boskoski did not deploy the Taser probes, and said that the Taser never actually touched the student, WEWS reported.
"She did take her Taser, remove the cartridge from it, and arced the Taser," he said.
This action is known as a "spark test" and it's recommended that officers conduct spark tests frequently to keep the Taser working properly. Although, it's generally done in a private environment.
Chief Funk has suspended Officer Boskoski without pay pending the completion of the investigation.
He also told WEWS he would meet with the town solicitor to determine whether any criminal charges should be pressed in the matter.
A review of Officer Boskoski’s personnel file at the police department revealed she was warned after a Taser incident that occurred earlier in the year.
In that instance, she failed to remove the cartridge from a Taser prior to a spark test, and deployed the less-lethal weapon in close proximity to another officer, WEWS reported.
The officer was warned that “future incidents of a similar negligent manner could subject her to disciplinary action,” according to the performance log.
However, Officer Boskoski was also the recipient of letter of recognition from the police chief in April for the compassion she had showed to a homeless man on a cold winter night.
The officer, who is an Air Force veteran, dressed a homeless man in her own gloves and coat and helped him to find shelter on a freezing night in December of 2017.
Parnell said that Officer Boskoski didn’t give any warning before activating her Taser to startle the student, WEWS reported.
"I was a little surprised by it. Our interest is in the safety of our students so hearing that go off was a little alarming," Parnell said.
Liberty Prep board president Misty Hanson sent out a letter to parents that reassured them “at no time was any student in any kind of danger,” The Daily Record reported.
“We want to assure all of our students, parents/guardians, and the community that we take the safety and security of our Liberty Prep family seriously, and give it our highest priority,” the letter read.
The letter said the school was “fully cooperating” with the police investigation of the incident.
Parnell told The Daily Record the suspension was “completely [the department’s] call. We support the police department.”