Monday, June 13, 2005

2005-06-13 Kevin A. Trapps and family suffer brutality by Vallejo officers Dustin Joseph and Jeremy Huff

"California Police Abuse and Police Brutality" from "" []:
06/13/2005 - A Vallejo father formally accused two police officers Wednesday of assaulting him with excessive force after he checked on his teenage son, who had just been shocked with a police stun gun.
Kevin A. Trapps alleges that Vallejo officers Dustin Joseph and Jeremy Huff "jumped me from behind" and Huff "kicked me and twisted my wrists to the point I thought he had broken them."
He alleged that the two slammed him against a hospital wall and a police car, and held his handcuffed arms painfully high behind his back.
In the complaint and in an interview Wednesday, Trapps admitted to provoking the officers by telling Joseph in crude terms that he wished the teenagers had harmed the officer during the Taser incident. But Trapps said the force used in his arrest was excessive.
Several senior police officials failed to return calls seeking comment about the complaint, which was filed Wednesday with the department's internal affairs section.
 Police say Joseph shocked Trapps' 16-year-old son with a Taser at Vallejo High School on Tuesday after the boy and another student got into a fight. After Joseph pulled the two boys apart, police say, the 16-year-old was combative and ignored commands to back off, so Joseph deployed the stun gun out of fear for his own safety.
 Police took the 16-year-old to the hospital, as is routine policy in Taser cases since a Vallejo man on drugs died after successive stun gun shocks last year. Trapps went to the hospital to check on his son and was arrested after police say he threatened the officers.
Trapps, 44, said he chose to make his complaint against police public in part to clarify details of his son's own arrest.
"They make him seem like he was aggressive toward the police. No way he would go against a 300-pound man," Trapps said, referring to one heavy-set officer.
 When Trapps arrived at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, he said, he spoke to Joseph. He said the police officer explained that he arrested the boy because he would not comply with commands to back away from the fight. Trapps said Joseph told him the boy would be fine, but the officer wouldn't let Trapps see his son because he was under arrest.
"He was totally disrespecting the fact that he could have killed my son," Trapps said, referring to last fall's Taser case that ended in death.
Trapps said he became enraged and admitted telling Joseph, in front of Officer Huff, "I wish one of them kids would have f----d your a-- up." Trapps said neither officer reacted immediately, and Trapps walked away toward the hospital door.
 Suddenly, Trapps told the Times-Herald, Huff grabbed him from behind and the two "commenced to beating the hell out of me," kicking him, applying pressure on his back and twisting his arms. Trapps said he did not physically resist.
 The handcuffs were "so tight, I feel like my arms are going to break at any minute," Trapps said. "The same cop that Tased my son, kicked my a--. I went to jail without knowing whether my son was dead or alive. That's all I needed to know."
 A relative of Trapps who said she witnessed the arrest called it "police brutality." She acknowledged that Trapps cursed at the officers, but she said he was not physically threatening.
 Trapps was booked into Solano County Jail on suspicion of battery on a police officer and making criminal threats. He said he posted bail and was released early Wednesday.
Trapps admitted to past violent outbursts, including a conviction in the last several years on domestic battery. He declined to give details, but he said he had no history with the officers who arrested him Tuesday.
 A Kaiser security official said none of its officers witnessed the incident, although Trapps' relative said security guards were present. An emergency room manager declined Wednesday to answer questions about the arrest, referring questions to a hospital spokeswoman who said no hospital witnesses wished to comment.
 Police officer Joseph has been the target of parental criticism in the past. In March, he broke up a lunch-hour fight at a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant by spraying mace into a crowd of about 30 students and others who refused to disperse.
Due to the amount of pepper spray, the fire department was called in to ventilate the restaurant with industrial fans. But police defended Joseph's actions in that case, saying crowds should always follow police orders to disperse.
 A top school district official expressed confidence Wednesday in Joseph's decision to use the Taser on the 16-year-old. Joseph is one of several police officers often assigned to Vallejo schools to provide security and head off fights.
 "We rely on the police department to make the best judgment to provide for the safety of all students," Vallejo school district spokeswoman Tish Busselle said. "If you let something get out of control, it can have very bad consequences for everyone."
Busselle said disciplinary measures were taken against the 16-year-old student involved in Tuesday's fight. She declined to elaborate, citing juvenile confidentiality concerns.
 Suzanne Dickinson, 16, a Vallejo High School student who is a friend of Trapps' son, said she witnessed the Taser incident. Dickinson said she plans to express concerns to school officials today that Joseph overreacted with the Taser because the boy did not challenge him.
"He was not arguing with the cop," Dickinson said. "He wasn't harassing anybody, but they Tasered him anyway. The cop couldn't have been in fear for his safety because (the boy) wasn't coming after him."