By Joe Beck
The use of Tasers in volatile situations produced strikingly different outcomes in Front Royal and Martinsburg this month.
The brother of a man slain by Martinsburg, W.Va., police officers during a late night struggle on Queen Street said earlier this week that he believed police in Virginia and West Virginia operate under different standards when it comes to the use of deadly force.
Bruce Jones said his brother Wayne might have survived a confrontation with Martinsburg police, even after producing a knife during a struggle with the officers on March 13. Bruce Jones, who spoke at a news conference this week, noted media reports of a knife-wielding suspect in Front Royal who was arrested Monday without any serious harm after police said they managed to subdue him with a Taser.
"West Virginia and Virginia seem to be on two different levels," Jones said, adding that Front Royal police "seemed to have handled it a little better."
In the Front Royal incident, police reported a Taser discharge sent Shane E. Bowling, 34, to the ground outside an apartment building after he began waving two knives at police. He was charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice.
Martinsburg police say they used a Taser twice on Wayne Jones, but it failed to end his resistance. Moments later, he stabbed an officer with a knife, according to Martinsburg police.
Unlike in Martinsburg, police in Front Royal reported no struggle between their officers and Bowling. Another difference in the two incidents is that Front Royal police reported that Bowling never did anything more serious than wave the knives at them.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org