Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Did required investigation show deputy was high when he broke my wife's arm -- or he failed a polygraph test about the incident? We still are looking for answers

Missouri Sheriff Jim Arnott
Was the Missouri deputy, who brutalized my wife, Carol, and broke her arm, high on cocaine or meth or some other stimulant? Did he tell the truth about events that led to Carol's injuries, which included heavy bruising of both arms and a possible concussion? Is he fit to continue serving as a law-enforcement officer?

These issues particularly resonate now because we recently passed the one-year anniversary of the unlawful eviction in Springfield, Missouri, that led to Carol's injuries, sent her briefly to jail, and left me (and our late kitty kat, Baxter) homeless for several hours last Sept. 9, spending most of the afternoon and evening in an area park, under shade trees. (Let it not be said that I don't know what it's like to be a hobo in a park.)

According to the Greene County Sheriff's Office Policy and Procedure Manual, all of the above questions (and many more) should have been answered as part of an investigation that is required after any "critical incident." What is a critical incident? It's described as "use of force . . . by or against a Greene County Sheriff's Office employee . . . which causes serious physical injury or death to any person." (See page 110 of manual.)

Carol's arm was shattered so severely during an unlawful eviction on September 9, 2015, that it required repair from a trauma surgeon, not an orthopedist, and physical therapists have said she might be able to regain 75 percent usage of her left arm, as a best result. She clearly suffered a "serious physical injury," which amounts to a "critical incident" that should have triggered a wide-ranging investigation.

As we have already shown, that is supposed to include interviews with victims (Carol) and witness/victims (me), but that has not happened. Have any of the other required investigative steps been taken? Is Sheriff Jim Arnott, who caused Carol to be falsely arrested and imprisoned for "assaulting an officer," interested in getting at the truth and holding the appropriate individuals (possibly including him) accountable? We have doubts about that.

Here is part of what already should have happened in the required investigative process (See page 112 of manual):

Involved Deputies will submit to any/or all of the following: blood, urine, breath or other chemical test as requested by the Administrative Investigator.

One of the major unanswered question about the incident is this: Why would any reasonable police officer, during an eviction that could not legally be conducted on the date in question anyway, attack a woman who committed no offense, posed no threat to him, said nothing threatening to him, and simply was trying to retrieve personal items as she had been given permission to do?

X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken arm
I can think of one or two possible answers to those questions: (1) The eviction was planned with the intention of roughing up Carol or me or both of us -- meaning the officer was doing what he had been instructed to do by some superior; (2) The officer was under the influence of a mind-altering substance.

The sheriff's policy and procedural manual addresses the second issue at some length. (See page 117 of manual):

During the initial investigation the Administrative Investigator shall facilitate the toxicology analysis of the following: Blood and/or urine and breath to determine the presence of alcohol, amphetamine, methamphetamine, oxycodone, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, opiates, THC, cocaine, PCP and propoxypene. This toxicology screening will be billed to the GCSO and should be conducted at the GCSO’s preferred medical provider when possible. The Involved Deputy should sign a medical release waiver at the time of the screening permitting the GCSO to obtain the results of the toxicology screening for administrative investigation purposes.

Sherriff officials seem to be well aware that an officer could be high as the proverbial kite while on duty, causing serious risk to the public. Officials also seem aware that officers have been known to lie, especially when they have been involved in a "critical incident." (See page 113 of the manual):

Involved Deputies shall submit to a polygraph examination if requested by the Administrative Investigator.

Common sense seems to hold that a polygraph exam would be administered only after the victim and witnesses have been interviewed. Since that hasn't happened, does it mean Sheriff Arnott and his staff have made no effort to determine if the officer's version of events is based in reality? The answer, in our view, likely is yes.

Finally, the involved deputy is to be removed from the force until investigators have determined he is fit to return to duty. (See page 113 of manual):

Involved Deputies will be placed on administrative leave; either paid or unpaid until both investigations [criminal and administrative] are either concluded or reach a level of completion which allows the Sheriff to make an informed return to duty decision. Prior to returning to duty the Involved Deputy will be required to take a Fit for Duty Exam at the expense of the employer.

How long was this deputy on leave? Was he ever on leave at all? What were the results of his Fit for Duty Exam? How could the results be accurate if Carol and I have not been interviewed, and the deputy likely has not been required to submit to a polygraph exam? Does the FBI need to be notified about shenanigans in the Greene County Sheriff's Office?

Here is another intriguing question: What if this was not just an ordinary street deputy? What if he was a member of the sheriff's administrative team? What if that helps explain his aggressive and abusive actions toward Carol. Arnott was standing about five feet away when Carol was assaulted. What if the individual conducting the assault was someone who serves just under Arnott, high up on the department's chain of command?

The sheriff's manual in Greene County, Missouri, indicates "critical incidents" are to be treated with the utmost seriousness -- and any involved deputy is to undergo a variety of tests and procedures to ensure he acted reasonably and is fit to return to the force.

Is that process treated seriously in real life or is it mostly just words on a page. At this point, to us, it looks like words on a page -- and nothing else.


Anonymous said...

It's been one year since all of that happened? I hope you get to the bottom of it.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks, @10:00. We will get to the bottom of it. The SOL on a civil action is a long way from running out. Other issues are taking our attention at the moment, but we will turn to Missouri corruption shortly.

Anonymous said...

Based on what I've read, the deputy acted as if he was high.

Anonymous said...

So this sheriff's department goes to the trouble and expense of creating this procedures manual, and then chooses to ignore it. If the manual doesn't apply to this case, then why have it? Another example of "intelligent administration" and waste of taxpayer dollar.s

Anonymous said...

You have said there was verbal interchange between Carol and the law enforcement present, before they arrested/ handcuffed her. You used some form of the word "spar."

What exactly *did* Carol say, and what was said to her during those exchanges.

Have you requested or received any report related to the incident?

Anonymous said...

The retired sergeant who spoke out after the drowning of a handcuffed Iowa man is suing three Missouri Highway Patrol officials, alleging that they violated his First Amendment rights and conspired against him.

legalschnauzer said...

Good point, @1:36. I hope folks will click on your link and read about that case. It illustrates law enforcement's tendency to lie and cover up when confronted with wrongdoing -- and it shows they will attack one of their own who dares to speak out re: truth.

legalschnauzer said...

@11:40 -- I'm pretty sure I've answered that question multiple times. If you need clarification, feel free to contact me via email or phone.

Anonymous said...

Seems odd that @11:40 is obsessed with any "verbal sparring" that went on but is unconcerned that Carol Shuler suffered a shattered arm.

Is @11:40 suggesting there are some magic words Carol Shuler uttered that justified the use of such force? Is @11:00 suggesting there is something in the department manual that gives a deputy the OK to batter someone if they verbally "spar" with a deputy?

Anonymous said...

You ask this question, LS:

Is Sheriff Jim Arnott, who caused Carol to be falsely arrested and imprisoned for "assaulting an officer," interested in getting at the truth and holding the appropriate individuals (possibly including him) accountable?

My answer:

No f-----g way.

Anonymous said...

I smell an Alabama connection to this debacle. Hadn't you just broken the Bentley/Mason affair story right before this happened? Hasn't it been reported that Bentley targeted you (and Donald Watkins) for retribution?

legalschnauzer said...

The answer is yes to both questions, @8:08. And like you, I have smelled a convention of Alabama rats and Missouri rats for some time. How was the connection made? I know of several possible conduits, and I suspect those will be revealed in due time.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing verbal, other than a refusal to obey a command, (perhaps trying to edge past officers who told her to stop) that could justify an attempt to stop her, let alone assault her. But I am interested in hearing what back and forth Carol actually did have with them; it could show malice (instead of trying to control entry to the apartment) i.e. they retaliated against perceived insult. That would help and not hurt Carol.

I also want to know what their official account of events will be, as in an incident report. There's still no story from them on what was supposedly so provoking.

legalschnauzer said...

We plan to learn all of those things in the not-too-distant future. I can say this for sure: I was sitting next to Carol, out on the front lawn (both of us in handcuffs, for no reason), when an officer told us that Carol could go in first to retrieve items, and when she was done, I could go in and retrieve items. We said that was fine, and no one said Carol had to get all items in one trip. I know for sure that cops on the scene changed the rules in midstream, telling me I could not go in at all. My guess is that they communicated to Carol that she could only go in once, and she (understandably) asked why or stated she now was being told something different from what she had been told a few minutes earlier.

I hope folks understand what it's like to see your whole life uprooted in a matter of a few minutes -- and you know the cops cannot be there, by law. You are looking at not getting important medications for you and your pet, you are looking at losing wedding pictures, wedding rings, and other items of sentimental value. You are looking at losing your clothes and being left with nothing to wear but what you have on. To say it's stressful would be an understatement. To have cops tell you one thing and then another makes it even worse.

Anonymous said...

You know the questions you ask you may never be answered. It is convenient that the manual gives the department ways around even having to ask those questions.

Drug tests have to be requested by the investigating officer:

Involved Deputies will submit to any/or all of the following: blood, urine, breath or other chemical test as requested by the Administrative Investigator.

Polygraphs (which are not that reliable):

Involved Deputies shall submit to a polygraph examination if requested by the Administrative Investigator.

Proponents of polygraph testing say it's 90% accurate, critics of polygraph testing say it's 70% accurate. Classes are taught on how to fool the polygraph.

The questions may have never been asked because there is no requirement that they have to be asked.