Should Trooper Daniel Cole have a job after shooting two innocent men and tazing an unarmed woman?

5:56 PM, Sep 13, 2012   |    comments
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Pinellas Park, Florida - For more than 30 years, Richard Wilder has been a missionary and has loved every minute of it.  He said it was his "calling" in life, traveling to places like Asia to spread the word of God.

Originally from upstate New York, Richard says he's always had a solid background. 

"I come from a very reputable family.  I've never done anything wrong."

Richard decided he wanted to bring his ministry to Florida. It turns out his trip to Tampa in 2001 would change his life forever.

The 47-year-old says he had no idea that his tail-light was out as he was traveling along Ulmerton Road.  When Florida State Trooper Daniel Cole stopped him, that's when everything went terribly wrong.

Richard's wallet fell between the seats in his Plymouth Voyager, and when he reached for it, Trooper Cole shot him.

Richard described how terrifying it was.

"When I brought my hand up to give him my license, I saw a flash. He shot me in the hand. I was in shock. I kept saying, 'It's OK, I'm a minister, I'm a minister.' Then I heard the trooper say, 'Oh my God, oh my God. What did I do? What did I do?'" said Richard.

He added, "I know they have a dangerous job. [The trooper] was apologizing.  I didn't feel anger toward him."

Trooper Cole was also involved in a tazing incident one year ago, where he shot a young woman, Danielle Maudsley, who was handcuffed and running from him.   Danielle hit her head on the ground and has been in a vegetative state ever since.

Photo Gallery: Dash cam images of woman's Tasing

Richard told 10 News, "I am praying for that young woman and her family. What happened was terrible."

So, is this customary for a member of law enforcement to shoot two innocent men and use a taser on an unarmed woman, all in the span of a single decade?

Rod Reder, a former captain with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office who now runs his own investigative agency, weighed in on the trooper's actions.

Reder told us, "I would say the vast majority of law enforcement officers do a 25-year career -- considered a full career -- and do not fire their weapons, despite what you see on TV."

He added, "Police shootings are few and far between. Two in a 10-year period is above average."

Richard Wilder never sued Trooper Cole or the agency.  In fact, he says he's prayed for the trooper.

However, he also says he was shocked to hear that the trooper shot a second man just this week: Royal Palm cemetery owner Clifford Work, who remains at Bayfront Medical Center recovering from a gunshot wound to the leg. 

Richard Wilder talked about the trooper's recent actions this week saying, "I don't think he should have a job. He shouldn't be doing what he's doing. Look at his record. They hurt me. They hurt my life."

Meanwhile, Todd Vargo, the attorney for Clifford Work, is on his way to Florida in a few days to meet with FDLE investigators and his client.

Vargo said, "[My client] acted in a totally reasonable and lawful manner. I cannot make the same conclusion with respect to Trooper Cole's actions. We have grave concerns."

The mother of tazing victim Danielle Maudsley released a statement to 10 News today.  Cheryl Maudsley said, "I was very concerned to hear about the same trooper who tazed my daughter Danielle being involved in another serious incident."

She also said, "We are praying for the shooting victim's speedy recovery and a fair and full investigation of Trooper Cole's actions."

Trooper Cole was cleared in both the tazing incident and in the minister shooting.  His actions are being investigated by both FHP and FDLE.

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