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Family of tasered man requests Verndale police chief be disciplined

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VERNDALE - A Browerville family filed papers and asked the Verndale City Council to take disciplinary action against Verndale Police Chief Jeff Jares after an incident at a Verndale bar that led to a young man getting tasered three times, one of those times allegedly in the groin.

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Mark and Sheryl Christiansen accompanied their son, Brandon, to the council meeting June 1 and filed papers requesting discipline against Jares for the May 22 incident. Brandon, 23, explained he can't read or write, and needed his parents' help to come forward with the papers.

Police were summoned that night when someone reported seeing an adult furnish alcohol to minors in the parking lot of the bar and liquor store, a charge the family denied. Brandon was then suspected of drunk driving, but the family said he only blew .05 on the Breathalyzer, below the legal limit to drive of .08.

At some point, the confrontation became physical. Sheryl said Brandon was afraid of the officer, and tried to run inside the bar where there were people, thinking he was safer in a crowd.

"He was tasered three times," Mark said. "Twice in the back and once in the groin."

A Wadena officer was called in after the tasering to assist, and Brandon complained that he had been tasered in the private parts and asked for medical attention. He told police one of the probes had stuck in his private parts.

He asked to be taken to the Staples hospital, but was transported by ambulance to Tri-County Hospital in Wadena.

The Wadena officer tried to check Brandon out at the scene, but Brandon would not get out of the back of the squad car because he feared he would be tasered again, the Wadena police report said.

Jares' version of events isn't clear. He did not speak at all during the council meeting when the Christiansens presented their case. He did not respond to a request for comment from the Pioneer Journal. He also has yet to turn over his incident report to the family, which made a public records request to see the report, or Verndale Mayor Ardith Carr, who asked Jares to produce his report. Carr said she's been told the report isn't ready because the incident is under investigation.

Sheryl said when she went to request a copy of the police report, Jares tried to intimidate her, and she left without it.

"Mr. Jares became unglued on me and started yelling and screaming," she said.

Brandon was present at the meeting June 1 and said he was afraid of Jares that night, and still is now.

"I'm still scared," he said. "I was scared to walk in here."

The family asked for disciplinary action against the chief. Interviewed Monday night, Sheryl said she also thinks the city should cover the medical bills incurred as a result of the incident. She said Brandon is uninsured, and his wound became infected.

Sheryl said she wants action taken against Jares.

Carr, interviewed Tuesday, said she's not sure what the next step is, but is waiting for Jares to tell what he knows about the incident.

"He has the right to give his side of the story," Carr said.

Sheryl said Brandon was taken to jail after being at the hospital, and was held overnight. She said she still doesn't know what the charges were. She said she thinks Jares is trying to intimidate Brandon.

"[Jares] pulled him over in Staples and gave him a seat belt violation, but [Brandon] was wearing his seat belt," Sheryl said. "And then he's been kind of following [Brandon] around wherever he goes."

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