Monday, July 14, 2014

LPD Faces Another Lawsuit After Officers Taser & Arrest Man Even Though He Repeatedly Invoked His Right to Remain Silent

Mark Bowers said he did his best to avoid the police last January, but officers apparently didn't like it when he invoked his right to remain silent after telling them that he did not call them and he had done nothing wrong.  According to Bowers they certainly didn't respect that right to remain silent.

One of several injuries caused by LPD tasering
Bowers said his civil rights were violated and that he has notified the City of his intent to sue the City of Lafayette, Lafayette Police Department, and three officers who were involved in the incident.  Officers M. L. Brown, Dobrin, and Cahoon were named individually in Bowers' complaint.

Bowers stated that he has initiated contact with the law firm that is currently representing Tim VanderPlaats as well as the paraplegic who was thrown from his wheelchair by an LPD officer last October and that he will likely retain them for the civil lawsuit in the near future.

Bowers said it began after his invalid mother became agitated with a homemaker who was sent by Area IV Council on Aging to help with light housekeeping.   Apparently Bowers' elderly mother was confused about the type of help the homemaker was required to provide.  The homemaker tried explaining to Mrs. Bowers that her duties did not include personal care, which she had expected, but that she could only provide light housekeeping duties.  The homemaker had been working in the kitchen with the elderly woman's son when Mrs. Bowers became upset and called the police.

According to Bowers his mother has a history of calling the police when she has become upset with various caregivers in the past while in nursing home care, so it did not surprise him when the police showed up on his doorstep on the afternoon of January 31, 2014.

"My mother called me from the other room to say someone was at the door," stated Bowers.  "I answered the door and was greeted by two LPD officers."

Bowers stated that when officers asked, "What can we do for you?" he replied, "Nothing, I did not call you."He said his mother spoke up to say she had called them, so he opened the door to allow the officers to speak with his mother. Mark then went back to the kitchen where he had been working. 

Mark said that when he attempted to get his phone from the office he was barred at the doorway by Officer Brown who had stopped him by bumping into him.

"He told me to back up and told me I was in his space," stated Bower. 

After telling the officer that he was in his own home Bowers said the officer informed him that he had no rights and he could do whatever he wanted because Bowers was not on a lease or owner of the home even though Bowers was the primary caregiver for his invalid mother and had lived in the home for two and a half years."

Bowers said at this point he did not argue with the officer.

"I backed up and stood at the counter with my hands at my side," said Bower.  "Officer Brown then informed me that I have history."  This claim was mentioned in the police report, which indicated that Officer Cahoon had informed Officer Brown via radio transmission that Bowers had "a history" with police.

Bowers said that he asked what he was talking about in reference to the history and then out of nowhere and without any warning the officer tried to grab him.

"I got scared and pulled away asking him not to touch me," said Bowers.  Bowers said he asked if he was being detained, and the officer replied that he was being arrested for assaulting him.  Bowers denied assaulting the officer and then says he submitted to the arrest once officers told him he was under arrest.

Bowers vehemently denies touching the officer and stated it was the other way around.

"Officer Brown then grabbed me again and threw me up against the counter and upper cabinets with my hands behind my back," said Bowers.  "At this point a second officer came from the living room and they both kept telling me repeatedly to stop resisting.  I was not resisting and kept repeating myself."

"They had my hands behind my back and then they told me they were going to tase me," said Bowers.  "I told them that I hadn't done anything wrong and asked them to please stop.  Over and over I pleaded with them to stop.  The officer repeated three times that he was going to tase me while all the time my hands were behind my back."

In the tort claim notice, Bowers claims that at this point Officer Dobrin pushed him to the center of the kitchen so Officer Brown could tase him again.  He said that Officer Dobrin used a stun gun in his side and thigh areas four times.

"The entire time I pleaded with them to stop, yelling to my mother to tell them to please stop," said Bowers.

Bowers said the officers ordered him to the floor and that he was unable to move his body due to the tasing.

"I told them I couldn't move," said Bowers.  "They threatened they would tase me again."

Bowers said that after he was able to get down on the floor Officer Brown jumped in the air landing down on his back with his knee while also pushing his head to the floor while still telling him to stop resisting even though he was unable to resist.

"I could not breathe with his knee in my back, because when he came down on me he knocked the wind out of me in addition to the effects of the tasing and stun gun," said Bowers.

Bowers said that as he was being escorted from his home, his invalid mother became upset and pleaded with the officers not to take her son.  She reportedly told the officers that her son had done nothing wrong and that he was her sole caretaker and that she could not be left alone.

Police officers left an invalid elderly woman alone without any care when they took her son away.

As Mark was being taken out of the home to be transported, the officers observed another individual and asked how long he had been there and who he was talking to via the speaker phone.  The witness told the officers he was talking to the Care Link Operator.   Mark's mother had activated her Care Link alarm to report alleged police abuse and the witness was reportedly telling the operator that the police had beaten his friend up.  At this point, the officers reportedly ordered Mrs. Bowers and the witness to "hang it up!"  They then asked where the individual came from.  The witness told the officers he had been there the entire time and witnessed all of it.  Mark says the conversation was recorded by Care Link.

The officers made no mention of this witness or phone call in their police reports, which Mark says are full of inaccuracies and inconsistencies in comparison.  The officer's reports did, however, admit that Bowers had told them he did not wish to speak with them during the ordeal.

One report refers to the Area IV homemaker as Mark's girlfriend; however, this is not true according to Bowers.  He says he did not know the woman outside of her professional role as a service provider.  Bowers was and is currently engaged to his fiance' (pictured).

Mark Bowers with his fiance
"[The housekeeper] was there to provide housekeeping services to my mom," Mark said.  "It was the housekeeper my mom was upset with, not me, and I told the officers repeatedly that I did not wish to speak to them, which is my right.  That's when they got mad and started badgering me.  I did nothing to deserve any of it."

So once again the public is left wondering whether these officers could have de-escalated a tense situation rather than attempt to badger someone who they had already pre-determined to have "a history with police." 

Mark says his only history is that he does not talk to the police and will exercise his right to remain silent due to the history of LPD and their excessive force against private citizens.

Gone are the days where citizens automatically give police officers the benefit of the doubt.  There has been plenty of evidence of police officers, locally and from around the country, abusing their power.

What did these officers accomplish?  Taxpayers get to foot the bill for yet another lawsuit.  An elderly invalid was left alone to fend for herself.  This situation could have been avoided had the officers respected the wishes of a citizen to exercise his right to remain silent.  The cockiness of these officers to get into the face and space of someone who had committed no crime is indefensible.   It's about time that the entire LPD police force take a remediation course in constitutional rights.

LPD leadership must take a serious look at requiring police officers to wear body cameras as a way to protect citizens and good police officers.  This practice has been known to decrease excessive force use by 70%.  Rather than spend money defending against lawsuits, wouldn't it be wiser to purchase body cameras for officers?

We know there are good officers at the Lafayette Police Department; however, these continual cases alleging police brutality are giving the entire department a bad name.  



14 comments:

  1. Sorry, there are NO "good officers" in the Lafayette Police Department. If there were, there wouldn't be any bad ones. ...Fact!

    “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”


    ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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    1. You are absolutely wrong. There are plenty of good officers from LPD, you only hear about the bad things and the rotten apples of the bunch. They are the ones that make the best news stories and the most money from lawsuits. It is obvious you have some sort of bias against the LPD... Most likely deriving from stories like this, or even personal experience... Either way, your opinion is quite ignorant. With your view point you must believe that if there is one, or two, or five bad teachers in a school then there can not be any good teachers in that school. Correct? Both professions have to follow cut and dry guidelines, and have the capability of abusing power. So, by your logic there are NO good teachers in that school.

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    2. Ummm... If there were "good ones" would we be hearing about lawsuit after lawsuit? Seriously, wouldn't you think the "good ones" would be turning against the bad ones and getting them fired for all the offenses they've committed without a lawsuit as I'm sure there are a bunch!

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    3. How can the writer be "absolutely wrong"? They did not say that there are no good officers. In fact they stated that "We know there are good officers at the Lafayette Police Department". Read things completely before you comment.

      Thanks!

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    4. so if there are good police officers, how come the only way bad ones are caught is by thier own negligence?

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    5. You do realize a board of non police officers makes the decisions of who is hired and who is fired. So your logic is invalid.

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  2. In light of all of these reports, maybe some manners classes are in order for our police Depth????

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  3. Lafayette police has went to shit!

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  4. Anonymous @ 2:22 indicates there are no good officers. The article correctly indicates there are. I see the suggestion for the LPD to learn manners. Mr. Bowers was clearly hostile in his initial contact with LPD. When someone from your residence summons the police, you should thank them for coming and explain why they were called. That would be manners. Mr. Bowers, when asked what they could do for him, rudely responds with "Nothing, I did not call you.". Hello? And he thinks things will go well for him after that? Only a moron is rude to people who have come to help. For Pete's sake, get a clue and take the phone away from the old lady if she cant control herself. Our police have better things to do than answers calls about nothing and deal with morons.

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    1. We have the right to remain silent. Exercising our rights should not warrant a trip to the pokey and getting tased and abused by egotistical cops.

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  5. It was said a board of citizens decide who is hired and fired. The big question is who appoints these citizens? Are they retired police officers? The premise of a citizen board would be effective if the members were elected by the citizens, for whom they are there to represent. The board could be made up of people involved in the judicial systm. Seems a little shady to me!

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  6. A great opinion piece just came across my phone: "What I Don’t Like About Life in the American Police State" by John W. Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute.

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  7. I think they are retired police officers. Yes you are absolutely right. The premise of a citizen board would be effective if the members were elected by the citizens, for whom they are there to represent.

    Citizenship lawyers

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  8. Stun gadgets are non lethal---they don't cause any long long-term harm. Moreover, they say what if your enemy snatches your Stuns in an arrest, then you could be murdered or be harm for lifestyle. Whereas, if it were a stun gun you would only be out of percentage for several a few moments.

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