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Authorities investigate how woman arrested by FHP wound up in coma

SEMINOLE — One morning last week, the Florida Highway Patrol learned that a young woman had been involved in two hit-and-run crashes in less than an hour.

The woman had rear-ended two cars and fled both scenes. FHP Trooper Daniel Cole was sent to investigate.

It didn't take him long to find a suspect: 20-year-old Danielle Maudsley. The other drivers, who were not injured, took down Maudsley's tag number and gave a description of her to the trooper.

He found her at a Seminole address listed on the vehicle's registration.

Maudsley was cuffed and taken to the FHP substation in Pinellas Park.

Hours later, Maudsley was in the hospital with a serious head injury and Cole was on administrative leave.

What happened between them is the subject of a "use of force" investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office.

An attorney for Maudsley's family, Leonard McCue, said Cole used a Taser on a handcuffed Maudsley when she tried to escape, causing her to fall and hit her head. He calls it excessive force.

An FHP spokesman said the agency can't comment about the incident.

FHP policy allows troopers to use Tasers when it "reasonably appears necessary to control non-compliant individuals who have escalated their level of resistance from passive physical resistance to active physical resistance (i.e.: bracing, tensing, pushing, or pulling)."

The policy goes on to say it must be apparent that the detained person has the ability to physically threaten others or is trying to flee or escape.

The policy notes, however, that "fleeing cannot be the sole reason for the deployment" of a Taser.

Maudsley is in an induced coma at Bayfront Medical Center. McCue said her prognosis is "very poor."

• • •

Records show Maudsley has never had a driver's license in Florida.

But at 8:47 a.m. Sept. 19, authorities say, she was westbound on 102nd Avenue when she rear-ended a car stopped at a red light at the 98th Street N intersection. Maudsley drove away, an FHP crash report said.

Then at 9:41 a.m., she struck a car in front of her at Starkey Road and Bardmoor Boulevard, reports state.

She gave the same excuse at both scenes: She needed to get to her daughter, who was at the hospital. She also said "she had no driver's license and did not want to get in trouble," a crash report states.

Cole found Maudsley and arrested her, then brought her to the station. Maudsley's arrest record includes two charges of resisting or obstructing police and one charge of battering a detention staff member — all when she was a juvenile.

McCue said Maudsley's mother, Cheryl Maudsley, told him that troopers reported to her that her daughter was in handcuffs when she tried to flee the station and that Cole shot a Taser at her.

"We were told that it was in the back," McCue said. "She fell backward and hit her head."

McCue said FHP's treatment of Maudsley was negligent and an excessive use of force.

"Even if she had tried to leave the room … she was handcuffed," he said.

Cheryl Maudsley, who has a criminal record that includes charges of drug possession and theft, did not return calls from the St. Petersburg Times seeking comment.

Officials said they can't comment further on the incident between Danielle Maudsley and Cole.

"Until the investigation is done, we are not releasing any more information," said Capt. Mark Brown, the FHP's chief public affairs officer. "We're just following procedure."

• • •

The car Maudsley was driving that day, a 2008 Chevy Malibu, belonged to Doris Garrison.

"I didn't give her permission to take my car," said Garrison, 70, who has been in Illinois most of the summer caring for her grandchildren. "She stole it."

Garrison said she knows Maudsley through her son, Mark Bona, 37. Bona, who has serious health issues, lives with his mother at the Seminole address where Cole found Maudsley.

"She and my son were romantically involved," Garrison said. "They broke up four weeks ago."

Garrison now believes that Maudsley took the key to her car around then; her son, she said, didn't realize the key was missing until Monday's incident.

It wasn't the first time Maudsley took a car from the home.

Records show Maudsley was arrested on a grand theft charge in May and accused of stealing Bona's car and getting into a crash. Prosecutors later dropped the charges.

Garrison believes Maudsley has a drug problem.

Still, she hopes Maudsley recovers.

"I want her to wake up and be normal," Garrison said. "I will continue to pray for Danielle."

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8643.

Authorities investigate how woman arrested by FHP wound up in coma 09/29/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 29, 2011 10:53pm]
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