The federal bench trial started today involving a former Spokane man who claims that Spokane County deputies roughed him up and later beat him unconscious in 2003 after he disputed a bar tab at a Spokane Valley restaurant.
Three deputies are named in the suit: Jeff Shover, Mark Gregory and Brett Peterson. Sgt. Patrick “Pete” Bunch was originally listed in the complaint but has since been removed from the case and is no longer part of the bench trial before U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle.
Attorney John Muenster, of Seattle, is representing Douglas Myser, who claims to have suffered memory loss and personality problems since the incident.
Representing Spokane County, attorney Rob Binger offered a simple defense for the deputies’ actions.
Binger said Myser’s tale is an “incredible” story “fraught with inconsistencies.”
“There is no evidence or proof … for the simple reason of it did not happen,” Binger said.
Myser’s sister, Karen Clancy, testified that her brother went with two friends to a bar to watch the Super Bowl on Jan. 26, 2003. Myser ordered drinks for his friends but discovered when he received the bill that he had been charged for drinks for a large gathering that was seated nearby.
Myser disputed the bill, his sister testified, and a bar employee called law enforcement. Several deputies arrived and Myser apparently got upset as he continued to dispute the bar bill.
The deputies “were telling him to pay the bill,” Clancy said. “At some point, he (Myser) paid the bill. Then they threw him to the floor.”
According to the complaint, several deputies jumped on top of Myser and delivered knee strikes as they handcuffed him.
On the way to the jail, Myser remained upset and told Deputy Shover that he planned to file a civil rights lawsuit for his arrest, according to court records.
Clancy testified that Deputy Shover then took Myser to an alley “and beat him unconscious.”
According to court documents, Myser woke up in jail but later was released. He went to Sacred Heart Medical Center where he learned he had three broken ribs.
The disorderly conduct charge was later dismissed, court files state.
Muenster, who is representing Myser, said he expects the trial to last into next week.