Arrow-right Camera


Deputies tackle wrong man outside court

Thu., Feb. 2, 2012

A suspected child rapist suffered shoulder injuries when Spokane County corrections deputies apparently mistook him for another man who they’d been sent to detain outside a courtroom.

“The whole time I was telling them that they got the wrong guy,” said Robert C. Botzon, 47, who said he may have suffered permanent damage in the Jan. 19 encounter, which included being forcibly knocked to the ground while officers swarmed and put him in handcuffs.

Botzon was released only after the judicial assistant who’d called for help with an unruly spectator confirmed that they’d grabbed the wrong guy.

“I said, ‘This isn’t the guy. We got the guy we want,’ ” explained John Mueller, a judicial assistant to Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza. “They put this guy down on the ground who wasn’t even involved in this. I’m not sure how it happened.”

Deputy Craig Chamberlin, a spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, offered sympathy, confirming that deputies had been summoned to the courthouse for help and ended up getting the wrong person.

“He complied and they cuffed him,” Chamberlin said. “We try to make a practice to explain to people what the circumstances are. Sometimes you just don’t have time.”

Another group of deputies had apprehended the person Mueller had requested help in detaining.

Botzon said he’d been in the courtroom waiting for a hearing on his case but decided to look for his lawyer, Dave Hearrean, when the deputies converged on him.

“I was standing at the top of the stairs looking for my lawyer,” Botzon said. “Then I heard a bunch of officers running up the stairs. I stood against the wall to get out of their way,” Botzon said. “One of the officers grabbed me and proceeded to take me down to the floor.”

Botzon declined to say what charges required his presence in court. Court records show that he was charged last October with having sex with a teenage girl seven years ago and is currently charged with third-degree rape of a child. He remains out of jail while awaiting trial.

There are eight comments on this story »