February 22, 1997 in Nation/World

Police Accused Of Assault At Bar Swackhammer’s Videotape Captures Officers Beating Bar Patron

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Spokane police are investigating the alleged assault of a nightclub customer by officers that was captured on videotape earlier this month.

Gregory Rogers, a 38-year-old Spokane man, says he was subdued and beaten by police before being arrested for third-degree assault on Feb. 5 at Swackhammer’s.

The video, recorded by Swackhammer’s security cameras in the bar’s entryway, was made public Friday by Rogers’ attorney, Pat Stiley.

“I would characterize this as a felonious assault,” Stiley said. “There’s an officer who looks like he’s bragging about the beating.

“I want a clear message sent that this kind of behavior is not tolerated.” The video shows Rogers being wrestled to the ground and punched after he pushed an officer.

Striking an officer carries a charge of third-degree assault, said police spokesman Dick Cottam.

After the beating, the video shows an officer punching his hand into his fist before walking out the front door of the club.

Assistant Police Chief Dave Peffer said the department will begin an investigation to identify the officers involved and the circumstances that provoked the incident.

Peffer said he saw the tape Friday after Stiley turned it in along with a formal complaint against the department.

“Not knowing all of the circumstances, the techniques the officers used appear to be appropriate with the training and the level of resistance they received,” Peffer said.

As for Stiley’s claim that one of the officers appeared to be bragging about the beating, Peffer said: “The gesture the officer may have made is certainly going to be reviewed by us as a separate issue.”

Stiley also gave a copy of the tape and complaint to the Spokane Human Rights Commission, which could not be reached for comment Friday.

The video camera that captured the incident is located high on a wall inside the entrance of the club on North Division.

Rogers and his friend, Raymond Marks, entered the bar at 12:23 a.m. on Feb. 5. Rogers said he was at the opposite end of the bar when Marks got into a fight with other members of his Gypsy family.

Rogers was getting ready to leave after the fight when he was questioned by a Swackhammer’s employee. According to Rogers, he told the employee he did not see the fight.

On the tape, the bar employee motions to a police officer, who then asks Rogers questions.

“I told him I didn’t see what was going on,” Rogers said.

The tape shows Rogers attempting to step outside the front door. He said he was trying to tell his friends that he couldn’t leave right away.

An officer is shown reaching for Rogers, who then turned around and pushed the officer with his left hand. Rogers was then wrestled to the ground by four officers and punched at least three times by one man with a closed fist.

Rogers said he suffered “internal injuries” and “internal bleeding.” He also said he suffered a concussion, but neither Stiley nor Rogers would offer specifics on the injuries.

He was booked into jail for assaulting an officer and posted $2,500 bond for his release.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 color)


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