PENSACOLA, FL (AP) – A Florida’s woman’s lawsuit says a deputy shot her with a stun gun, then apologized with a photo of a cake that said, “Sorry I Tased You” in blue frosting.
The cake photo didn’t cut it for Stephanie Byron. She sued former Escambia County sheriff’s deputy Michael Wohlers in May.
On Monday, the county’s Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission announced it had reviewed the case and placed Wohlers on a one-year probationary period from serving at any law enforcement agency in Florida.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Pensacola, alleges Wohlers violated Byron’s civil rights, committed battery against her and caused her hardships, including physical injuries, monetary loss, medical expenses, humiliation and mental anguish.
Wohlers’ attorney wouldn’t comment Thursday but denied the allegations in a court document.
The incident happened in June 2015 when Wohlers stopped by an apartment complex where Byron was working.
According to court documents, Wohlers was in his full uniform and “used his apparent law enforcement authority to intimidate, harass, and threaten” Byron about her personal life. The lawsuit says Wohlers took Byron’s tea, and when she went to retrieve it he fired his stun gun at her. She said she was knocked to the floor and the court document says Wohlers “jumped onto Ms. Byron, kneeing her in the chest.” He then removed the stun gun prods from her body and left.
The lawsuit also says Wohlers told his employer that he accidentally discharged his device into a pillow at his house.
Sometime after that, Wohlers sent Byron a photo of a cake with the words “Sorry I Tased You”. Byron’s attorney entered a photo of the cake as an exhibit into the court file.
“The cake … provides his version of the encounter and clearly shows a person Wohlers firing the Taser at Ms. Byron. It also reads “Sorry I Tased You,” the complaint reads. The cake depicts two stick figures in frosting, with one aiming something with black wires at the other.
Byron’s lawyer, J. Alistair McKenzie, said Friday the cake photo that was texted to his client wasn’t taken by Wohlers. The cake had been baked and photographed by a Massachusetts police officer. He had accidentally stunned another officer, according to an interview with the officers on the website Gizmodo.
Wohlers resigned from the sheriff’s office in July 2015.
Wohlers’ attorney denied the allegations in a written response to the complaint. The response also said Wohlers is protected by “qualified immunity” – rights that can shield government officials from civil liability lawsuits if the official did not knowingly violate a citizen’s rights while performing their duties.
Byron is seeking compensatory damages, costs, expenses and reasonable attorney’s fees.