Exclusive: 'Battery on law enforcement officer' charge dropped after surveillance video surfaces

By Josh Rojas, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, September 09, 2016, 12:37 PM EDT

A St. Petersburg woman who was charged with felony battery of a law enforcement officer for allegedly shoving a deputy had her case dropped by the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office last month, after prosecutors reviewed gas station surveillance video that captured the incident.

  • Battery on LEO charges dropped
  • Lawyer for woman said surveillance video didn't match report
  • Pinellas Sheriff's Office investigating complaint

“The video doesn’t show a clear touch,” said Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett. “The deputy was a little overaggressive in taking her down and the case didn’t have jury appeal.”

The incident happened at 9:39 p.m. on March 25 and was caught on high definition surveillance video from the Mobil Gas Station located at Fourth St. and Gandy Blvd. Deputy Wayne Wagner pulled over a pickup truck that had the wrong license plate attached. The driver, Gage Moore, 25, switched seats with the passenger, Paige Taylor, 26, because he was driving on a suspended license.

Dep. Wagner arrested Moore for being an habitual offender and told Taylor the pickup truck needed to be impounded. Taylor said she pleaded with the deputy to let her tow the truck so that she wouldn’t be stranded at the gas station.

“He just didn’t care,” she said. “He was just like, ‘figure out a way home and I’m taking the vehicle.’”

A battery on a LEO charge was dropped after prosecutors reviewed gas station surveillance video that captured the incident. An attorney for Paige Taylor, 26, said the surveillance video shows there was no shove. (Surveillance still)

According to the report, Wagner said he told Taylor that he could call a taxi or have someone pick her up. Taylor asked for her driver’s license back and Wagner asked her to step out of the vehicle. Wagner wrote that as Taylor “exited the vehicle, she immediately slammed the door and aggressively approached me. Paige then ripped her driver’s license out of my hands, and with her right hand, shoved me.”

That’s the part of the police report that Taylor’s attorney, Chris Beardslee, 39, said does not match the surveillance video.

“There's no approach. She comes out of the truck and she walks past him. She's a full step past him. If he's saying the door being slammed is an approach that's a little strange,” he said. “As she steps past him, she takes the license but her hand didn’t touch his hand. There's no shove. You can see the officer crystal clear. His body doesn't move back, he doesn't lose his balance, his heels don't move. His body doesn't move at all.”

Taylor admits she was upset about having to walk home but maintains she did not touch deputy Wagner.

“I didn’t touch him at all,” she said. “I was really worried but I knew that deep down inside that I didn’t touch him.”

Bartlett said Taylor clearly had an attitude and should’ve been charged with obstruction for switching seats. Beardslee said the video later shows deputy Wagner over exaggerating the incident to another deputy. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office declined our request for an interview at this time.

“I can confirm that we have received a complaint from the attorney and we are investigating the matter,” said Sgt. Spencer Gross. “We will not comment until we have all the facts and conduct an appropriate investigation into the allegations.”

Paige Taylor said she wants to see the deputy disciplined for taking her down to the ground and for what he wrote in the police report. (BN9 image)

Taylor’s father is a federal law enforcement agent and she has no prior record. The St. Petersburg woman said she wants to see Wagner disciplined for taking her down to the ground and for what he wrote in the police report.

“He slammed me to the ground pretty bad and I actually went face first,” she said. “I really don’t want this to happen to anyone else. Especially, someone who’s innocent like myself.”

Wagner has been with the agency since October 2014 and his disciplinary file shows a 40 hour suspension in April for an unauthorized pursuit where he reached speeds of 130 mph on U.S. 19 without lights and sirens.

Taylor said Moore is no longer her boyfriend and they were breaking up the night of the incident. On Tuesday, Moore plead guilty to driving while license revoked and received 18 months of probation.