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By Joe Block 

Wepking denies pulling taser's trigger, "did not know what he was thinking"

 

June 20, 2019



A Rock County Sherriff’s Department investigation into former Sauk Prairie police officer Jamie Wepking’s alleged firing of a taser at a fellow officer revealed more details, including that Wepking allegedly handled officers’ tasers without their permission.

On October 27, 2018, Wepking was attending a Halloween party in Prairie du Sac. According to Wepking, he consumed about 10 cans of beer. Witness statements indicate that Wepking also played 4 to 6 games of beer pong, a game where players throw a ping pong ball across a table with the intent of landing it in a cup of beer. Beer pong tables usually include 6 to 10 cups of beer, which are consumed between the two teams. Witnesses stated that Wepking was impaired, which included slurring his words, and Wepking confirmed he was intoxicated.

About 4 hours after arriving at the party, Wepking stated to a witness that he wanted a can of chewing tobacco. The wife of an off-duty Sauk Prairie police officer attending the party called one of the on-duty officers, requesting that he purchase the tobacco. The caller initially asked the officer to bring the tobacco to the party. According to an officer who overheard the phone call, Wepking was heard in the background of the phone call “stating ‘no,’ not to bring it to the party as he didn’t want to put [the officer] in that position. Meaning that [the officer] would be outside of his jurisdiction and at an alcohol party.” It was decided to meet at Mid-State Equipment, which is out of the Sauk Prairie police department’s jurisdiction.

An individual at the party who had not been drinking drove Wepking to Mid-State. Security footage shows the car arriving at 12:36 a.m., October 28. The officer who was called to get the tobacco purchased it at Kwik Trip and proceeded to Mid-State. The other Sauk Prairie police department officer who was on duty decided to drive there as well.

Wepking retrieved the tobacco from the officer, paid him, and they hugged. Wepking then approached the officer who was subsequently tasered. The officer stated, “as Wepking came towards him, Wepking reached out with his right hand.” The officer “thought Wepking was going to shake his hand.” The officer continued, “Wepking grabbed [the officer’s] taser and pulled it out of the holster.” He said “he did not say anything but in his head he was thinking ‘what the [obscenity]?’” The officer then saw the Taser’s flashlight and laser light come on, meaning it was armed. According to the officer, “as he was reaching for the taser Wepking pulled the trigger.” One of the probes struck him in the left bicep, going through his shirt. The other missed. He was not shocked.

According to Wepking, he went to “bear hug” the officer and “that was when his hand bumped [the officer’s] taser.” Wepking then “went to wiggle [the officer’s] taser”, and “all of a sudden he had [the officer’s] taser in his hand.” Upon further questioning, Wepking said he “put his hand on the taser, manipulated the locking mechanism,” and removed the taser. He stated that he “did not pull the trigger and does not know how it went off.” The officer leading the investigation told Wepking that the security video shows him pulling the trigger. The investigating officer told Wepking that his version of events did not match the security video.

According to the officer who was struck by the taser, Wepking repeatedly asked if he was okay and apologized. Wepking then removed the probe from the officer’s arm. The officer stated that Wepking said “something like ‘[obscenity] do we do?’” He then said Wepking turned to the driver of the car and said “you didn’t see anything.” The other officer confirmed Wepking said this. The individual who drove Wepking to Mid-State said that at no time did any of the officers talk about not reporting or covering up the incident. He also denies that Wepking said “you didn’t see anything” or anything similar.

Wepking told investigators that “he did not know what he was doing at the time of the incident.” He added that he did not do it maliciously. The officer who was tasered agreed that it was not done maliciously.

Wepking subsequently gathered the discharged taser probes and cartridge and took them with him. According to security footage, everyone left the scene 8 minutes after the taser was discharged. According to the individual who drove Wepking, they returned to the party and Wepking continued “as if nothing ever happened.” He left a short time later.

The two on duty officers then returned to the police station, and contacted their superior, who directed them to gather evidence. One of the officers said “they attempted to contact Wepking on his personal cell,” and “wanted to tell Wepking that what had happened was ‘not cool’ and to inform him that they would be reporting the issue.” They were unable to reach him. Wepking later texted the officer who was tasered and asked “How’s arm?”

The officer who was tased said in an interview that “this was not the first time Sgt. Wepking has grabbed his taser.” He said Wepking “has grabbed his taser several times in the past and just shook it in the holster,” and “doesn’t say anything when he does it.” The officer said he had not told Wepking to not do it because “Wepking is his supervisor.” Wepking, in his interview, said that officers “have wiggled his gun while it was in his holster,” and that he had done that to other officers, including one of the officers present at the incident. Wepking also said he grabs other officer’s tasers “just to goof around.”

The officer who was tasered said he and Wepking were friends, and had not had any problems with him. He said that fellow officers “give each other [obscenity],” and that “he is the guy that people crack jokes about.” He said the jokes usually come from Sgt. Wepking. The officer reported that “one of the things that has been said repeatedly that bothers him” is when Wepking and a fellow officer refer to him using an obscenity that implies sexual relations with a farm animal. Wepking denies calling him this. The officer works with the same group of people, which includes Wepking. He said “when all three of them are working together he tries to stay away from them to avoid the ‘drama’ that comes up.” The “drama” includes name calling and jokes.

Wepking was told to remain on vacation status and not to respond to any calls as a police officer for the department, the Sauk County Emergency Response Team, and “not to act in a law enforcement capacity until further notice.” The Sauk Prairie police department then conducted an investigation, as well as the Rock County Sheriff’s Department. Wepking resigned shortly after.

The Rock County Sherriff’s Department concluded “we believe there is probable cause to arrest Jamie Wepking.” The charges were: disarming a peace officer, and endangering safety by the negligent operation or handling of a dangerous weapon. The recommendation was sent to the Sauk County District Attorney. Due to a possible conflict of interest, it was referred to the Columbia County District Attorney. He chose to not press charges. The Star News contacted the district attorney’s office for comment buy has not yet heard back.

 
 

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