AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Public Safety has suspended a trooper pending the outcome of an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General.
This is related to a traffic stop on Aug. 28 just before 11 p.m. involving Trooper Zachary Maini, a spokesperson said. The driver, Clateachia Stewart, spoke with KXAN about the incident. She recorded it on her cell phone.
“What’s causing all of this? I’m really trying to figure out what’s going on,” she said, explaining how she felt in the moment.
She said she was driving to her security guard job that night when the trooper pulled her over on U.S. Highway 183.
“I immediately slow down and am looking for an exit to take,” she said. Stewart said the next exit was U.S. 290, so she continued on 183 to take the Manor Road exit. She said she was concerned about her safety as well as the safety of the trooper.
When she pulled into a parking lot, she said the trooper immediately told her to get out of the car.
“You were evading,” you can hear Maini say in the video.
“I was not evading,” you can hear Stewart say.
The video shows Maini repeatedly tell Stewart she is under arrest, and Stewart repeatedly asks why. At one point, Maini is seen pushing Stewart into the side of her car.
The back-and-forth continues for about two minutes, until Maini is heard saying “I’m going to ‘Tase’ you,” and you can see him initiate the Taser.
“It burned,” said Stewart. “It was the weirdest thing ever. I just lost control of my body.”
A DPS spokesperson said Maini’s actions raise “serious concerns that Trooper Maini acted unprofessionally and in violation of DPS policy.”
According to a DPS safety guide, if you feel like it’s unsafe to stop immediately, you’re supposed to turn on your hazard lights and call 911 to speak with dispatch about your situation.
Stewart said the trooper arrested her for attempting to evade, and he told her he originally pulled her over for speeding.
Stewart has a court date later this month.
“This would have been completely different for both of us if he just talked to me. The same way we’re talking, I would have followed any commands,” she said.
Maini started with DPS in 2017, according to the agency. He is stationed in Austin.
We discovered information about a previous assault arrest for Stewart. Formal charges have not been filed. A DPS spokesperson told KXAN Thursday the trooper was not aware of this arrest prior to the two getting out of their vehicles.