Monday, February 15, 2010

Gerald Amidon Recieves $150,000 After Officer Threatens to Sodomize Him With Taser

We previously followed the case of Gerald Amidon, who sued the Boise police department for allegedly threatening to sodomize him with a taser and using excessive force in his arrest, including tasering him on the buttocks. He has now settled for only $150,000 and, despite a highly disturbing tape of the incident, the police department is able to claim no fault as part of the settlement.

While against policy, the police insisted that the officer (who also threatened to shock his genitalia) merely failed to follow guidelines — the name of the officer has not been released despite the release of the audio tape below. The officer actually states on the tape that he had already sodomized Amidon with the taser when he threatened to deliver a second shock first to his anus and then to his genitalia.

Amidon stated that on February 14th he did not realize that the men forcing their way into his apartment were officers. He tried to block the door — resulting in three officers throwing him to the ground. After tasering him, the officer threatened to sodomize the man and deliver an anal shocking with his taser.

Here is the exchange:

Officer #3: Do you feel this?
Complainant: Yes, sir.
Officer #3: Do you feel that? That’s my -
Complainant: Okay
Officer #3: -Taser up your ass.
Complainant: Okay
Officer #3: So don’t move.
Complainant: I’m trying not to. I can’t breathe.

Officer #3: Now do you feel this in your balls?
Complainant: I do, sir. I’m not going to move. I’m not gonna move.
Officer #3 Now I’m gonna tase your balls if you move again.
A minute later, this exchange occurred:
Officer #3: Okay, I’m gonna take this Taser out of your asshole now. Are you going to fight with me?
Complainant: No, not at all, sir.

A supervisor later erased an audio recording of an interview with the man at the jail and did not write a report on the use of force in the arrest. While the officers have been “disciplined,” they were not removed from the force.

Boise Community Ombudsman Pierce Murphy found that the actions of the officer were not illegal but found abuse, here. You have an officer who says that he just sodomized a suspect and threatened to torture him. That is not unlawful in Boise?

In the internal investigation , here. Murphy found that there was no threat at the time of the incident:

“At the time that he was Tased on the buttocks, the Complainant was handcuffed and lying face-down on the floor. Officer #1 was holding the Complainant’s head and upper torso down with a knee across his shoulders. Officer #4 was positioned near the Complainant’s waist preparing to search the Complainant, and Officer #3 was situated near the Complainant’s legs and feet … Based on what he observed, Officer #2 saw no need to assist Officer #1, Officer #3, and Officer #4 in controlling the Complainant. According to Officer #1, the Complainant “mellowed out” after being handcuffed.”

He filed a complaint detailing the abuse and asked for $500,000 in punitive damages.

The reported settlement of $150,000 seems a bit low given the egregious conduct and lack of admission of fault. Of course, we are not the “boots on the ground” in the case and the legal team was probably discounting for the avoidance of trial costs and appeals. However, given the response of the Police Department, I was hoping to see a more punitive element to the liability to guarantee a greater deterrent effect. If it was not for this tape, this case would never have seen the light of day.

It was the result of mediation with the judge in the federal court. It also contained a reported confidentiality agreement barring public comment.
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Sgt. Michael Mastick Will Not be Charged in Hit and Run Collision

A Torrance police sergeant will not be charged in an off-duty hit-and-run collision, although he admitted he fled because his "judgment was impaired by alcohol," according to prosecutors.

Redondo Beach City Prosecutor Brenda Wells said Tuesday that she declined to file a criminal case against Sgt. Michael Mastick for several reasons.

Among them, Wells said, was the fact that the alleged victim did not want the internal affairs investigator prosecuted. In addition, she said, the driver of the suspect vehicle was not identified by any witnesses at the time of Sept. 26 incident.

However, she noted: "Initially, Michael Mastick claimed that his wife was driving and she confirmed that information. Later, Michael Mastick submitted a statement claiming that he was the driver and he fled because his judgment was impaired by alcohol."

Anderson said Wednesday that there is an open personnel investigation into the matter, but declined to comment further.

Mastick's attorney did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

The Inglewood Police Department investigated the incident to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. A public records request for the police report is pending.

The 19-year department veteran was investigated for causing a collision around 9:45 p.m. on Pacific Coast Highway at Robert Road, near the Hollywood Riviera section of Torrance.

When officers responded to the scene, it was discovered that a department employee was involved, and a supervisor requested assistance from members of the South Bay DUI Task Force, police have said.

Neither police agency would discuss details of the collision, beyond characterizing it as "minor."

Inglewood handled the investigation and submitted the case to the district attorney's Justice System Integrity Division, which recommended it be referred to the city attorney.

Investigators brought the case to Redondo Beach rather than Torrance also to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Officer Christopher Bowersox Charged with Possession of Child Porn

As the child pornography case against a former Bakersfield police officer moves forward, friends say they are shocked and in disbelief.

It's believed the case against Christopher Bowersox, 38, will be in federal court by midweek.

Bowersox was arrested Friday after the FBI filed a case alleging he knowingly possessed child pornography and engaged in the receipt of child porn. The documents filed in court so far have been extremely graphic.

Officials said Bowersox resigned from the Bakersfield Police Department on Wednesday of last week.

Eyewitness News spoke with a local attorney who said he has been contacted about representing Bowersox in this case. His name is being withheld, because he hasn't officially been assigned to the case.

One of Bowersox' neighbors, Melanie Smith, said Monday that she has known the officer for more than a year, and her boyfriend has known Bowersox for more than 10 years.

"He's a very good friend of mine," Smith said. "He'd always come over and helped me out. He's helped me fix my car (and) brought me cookies last week."

Police say the investigation into Bowersox started last fall. Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson held a rare weekend news conference to address the investigation of his own officer.

"I, as well as the rest of my department, are thoroughly embarrassed and disappointed as to the allegations made against one of our officers," Williamson said Saturday.

Williamson and FBI officers said Bowersox had been removed from duty and put on administrative leave when the allegations were first discovered.

"This arrest was the result of a lengthy criminal investigation that was initiated by the Bakersfield Police Department and eventually referred to the FBI due to the type of criminal activity," reads a statement issued last week by FBI Special Agent Steve Dupre.

Investigators say the case started when Nicholas Beeman was arrested in Florida for possession of child porn. Beeman reportedly told officers he discussed violence against children in an Internet chat room, and investigators say they tracked that chat to Bowersox.

The report on the case includes excerpts that officers say went between Bowersox and the man in Florida.

"Every time I talk someone into rape, I always get a bit sad when they're not into this," the Florida man allegedly wrote in the online chats.

"Oh, I'm ... into it, big time," Bowersox allegedly responded, using the screen name "cbowersox."

Bowersox reportedly told investigators he had communicated with others in Internet chat rooms, and that he "shared fantasies" with others through chat rooms. According the the case report, Bowersox "reluctantly" described the fantasies as things between men and boys and violence between men and boys.

"Bowersox acknowledged the conversations and stated that the communication was all fantasy and that he had never carried out any of the described actions," the report reads.

According to the case file, police searched the computer at Bowersox' home and then turned the case over to the FBI.

Bowersox had headed up the Bakersfield police anti-graffiti unit for a while, and Williamson said the officer had arrested several youth as part of the detail. The department believes Bowersox had no inappropriate contact then with any under-aged people during his time on duty.

"The department has no indication the activity for which former officer Bowersox has been charged occurred while he was on duty in his capacity as a police officer," reads a statement from Williamson.

Williamson said the officer was well liked in the department and by the public.

"I think the allegations that have been brought against him have just floored most of the members of the Bakersfield Police Department," Williamson said.

The FBI report said when officers searched Bowersox' computer, they also found five digital images that appeared to be surveillance photographs of students on the Bakersfield High School campus.

According to the case report, Bowersox told investigators he did not recall taking any pictures of students at BHS.

Back in Bowersox' neighborhood, Smith said she is shocked by the case.

"I don't know what to say about what they're charging him with," Smith said. "But, I'm going to say innocent until proven guilty. I think he's a good man."
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