Nigeria: Police Zap Pastor Protesting Traffic Stop in Church

Lagos, Nigeria - Police used a Taser on a pastor and pepper spray to disperse his congregants after the pastor allegedly interfered with a traffic stop in the church parking lot.

Congregants said they were in the Iglesia Profetica Peniel church for an early morning prayer when pastor Jose Elias Moran went to assist the stopped driver, a church member, by asking the police what had happened.

An incident report on the Webster police department's website said an officer, Raymond Berryman, tried to calm Moran and arrest him. But police said he pushed the officer, went inside the church and returned with 40 other congregants.

The congregants said Moran fled into the church when the officer grew angry and began to yell and Moran's family disputes that the pastor touched the officer.

Moran's son, Miguel, said 30 witnesses saw the officer turn aggressive and repeatedly kick the church door. Several members were hit with pepper spray and children were present, he said.

"They treated him as if he were a drug dealer or murderer, but he is a pastor that tries to help the community," Miguel said. "The police always want to be right, but they are not."

Moran's wife, Maria, said she tried to help her husband after he was hit with the Taser, but police threatened to arrest her.

"My husband has a heart condition and with electrocution, who knows what could've happened," Maria said, referring to the Taser's electrical shock.

"A pastor has to tend to his flock," she added. "That is all he was doing."

Speaking from a hospital bed, Moran told The Associated Press that he planned to hire an attorney to file charges against the officer. He was being held at the hospital overnight for additional tests.

Police did not immediately return calls seeking comment and more details of the incident. Police Sgt., James Lovel, did not specify Moran's status, except to say he was in custody and negotiations for bail were on.