SALT LAKE CITY - The Utah trooper who used a stun gun on a motorist who was walking away from him in a confrontation widely viewed on the Internet is back on duty after taking a verbal communications course.
Trooper Jon Gardner returned to work Dec. 7 after internal investigators questioned the motorist in the Sept. 14 confrontation on U.S. 40 in eastern Utah, said Col. Lance Davenport, commander of the state highway patrol.
The driver, Jared Massey, obtained the trooper's dashboard camera video through a public records request and posted it on YouTube in November. Gardner was placed on paid leave after the video was posted, and his superiors acknowledged that the attention prompted them to speed up their review of the confrontation.
The state patrol had said soon after the video surfaced on YouTube that Gardner felt threatened and was justified in jolting Massey after the motorist walked away from the trooper and refused to sign a speeding ticket.
The video shows Gardner drawing his stun gun after Massey refused the ticket.
A surprised Massey asks, "What the heck is wrong with you?"
Gardner fires, and Massey shrieks and falls.
"Face down! Face down! Put your hands behind your back!" Gardner orders.
Massey's wife, screaming hysterically, emerges from the passenger side of the sport utility vehicle Massey was driving, and the trooper tells her to get back inside "or you're going to jail, too."
State patrol policy allows troopers to use a stun gun if someone is a threat to themselves or others and other means of control are unreasonable. Though an internal investigation has not concluded, Gardner's superiors have said while his actions were justified, his attitude was a problem and could be a good case study for training.
Davenport said Friday that Gardner has learned better conflict-resolution skills. "We have admitted that interaction could have been better on the trooper's part, and he realizes that," he said.
The highway patrol has declined to make Gardner available for interviews.
Massey paid a fine of $107 on Thursday for speeding in a construction zone.