It is the second time since 1998 that police have had to make a show of force during a traffic stop to arrest Glen M. Wilcox, a Fairbanks-based Episcopalian priest and real estate agent.
Court documents allege that officers with Eielson Air Force Base’s 354th Security Forces Squadron pulled Wilcox over just after 1 p.m. Wednesday for going 11 miles over the speed limit on the Richardson Highway.
An officer, identified as a senior airman in court documents, took Wilcox’s license, registration and proof of insurance and wrote him a traffic citation. When he returned to Wilcox’s car, Wilcox refused to accept the documents and sped down the highway, according to a criminal complaint filed in court.
Wilcox disputes that version of events.
“They waved to me and I thought that meant I could go on,” Wilcox said. “They stopped me again and told me to get out of my car.”
Alaska State Troopers were notified of the incident, and the 354th “initiated a high-risk traffic stop” near 336 Mile Richardson Highway. When Wilcox, a former commander of the Civil Air Patrol, again stopped, he initially refused to roll down his window.
He eventually got out of his vehicle and was told to put his hands behind his back, something he claims is physically impossible for him.
“I showed them I could barely touch my fingertips and they insisted,” he said.
Charging documents allege Wilcox used profanity with the airmen. When they tried to handcuff him, Wilcox, described in court documents as being 6 feet 1 inch tall and 250 pounds, allegedly tried to jerk away from the airmen and used his body to push them around, a claim he also disputes.
After several warnings, one of the airmen used a Taser on Wilcox to take him into custody.
“It hurts like hell,” Wilcox said. “I’m laying on the ground when they Tasered me. It’s painful and very sharp.”
Wilcox said the incident left his arms bruised and he had to seek treatment at a doctor. He also obtained a lawyer but would not elaborate on how he intends to pursue the case.
“If I were their base commander, I would put them in jail,” he said. “Four young men in their 20s do not need to Taser and handcuff an 81-year-old.”
The next day, prosecutors dropped a charge of fourth-degree misdemeanor assault against Wilcox. He pleaded not guilty to counts of resisting arrest — a misdemeanor — and failure to stop at the direction of a peace officer, a felony. He later posted $250 bail.
Air Force regulations authorize law enforcement officials to use Tasers to arrest subjects who are actively resisting arrest or noncompliant with law enforcement orders, said Staff Sgt. James Stewart, a spokesman for Eielson. Regulations do not give different directives on how to deal with older subjects.
The airmen used a minimum amount of nonlethal force to resolve the situation, Stewart said.
In May 1998, Wilcox was accused of a similar incident when Fairbanks International Airport police pulled him over for driving with expired tags. Wilcox reportedly became belligerent with police and grabbed and twisted a female officer’s arm. In that case, he had to be pepper-sprayed to be taken into custody.
Wilcox said the truck he was driving at the time had an issue that it would not start again within five minutes of starting it up. He pulled the officer’s arm away to keep her from grabbing the key out of the ignition, he said.
He later pleaded guilty to a reduced count of disorderly conduct and a misdemeanor count of failure to stop at the direction of a peace officer. He successfully completed probation and more than 100 hours of community service.
Several people who said they knew Wilcox for decades wrote letters to the judge before sentencing, saying the incident was extremely out of character for him.
Contact staff writer Chris Freiberg at 459-7545.