|Arizona cop Jeff Bonar punches Marissa Morris, with
deputy Joel Winchester between them.
The more we learn about this incident the more it reminds my wife, Carol, and me of our own experiences with officers in Alabama and Missouri. And it adds to the mountain of evidence that the first instinct for many officers is to lie after they have abused a citizen.
Coconino County deputy Joel Winchester is seen in the video between Flagstaff officer Jeff Bonar, who threw the punch, and Marissa Morris, a 30-year-old Flagstaff resident who was on the receiving end. The two officers had gone to Morris' residence to serve an eviction notice when Bonar said he believed Morris had at least one outstanding arrest warrant and started trying to apprehend her. She responded by saying, ""You cannot arrest me until I know I have a warrant." That's when Bonar punched her in the face. (The video is embedded at the end of this post.)
In his report, Bonar claimed the woman "kneed him several times, including in the groin, before he hit her." But Winchester's report makes no mention of aggressive action on Morris' part, other than to state multiple times that she did not have an outstanding warrant. Morris proved to be correct about that; As CBS News reported:
Morris did hold two “failure to appear” warrants for DUI and resisting arrest — but they were resolved before Wednesday’s incident.
Translation: Bonar had no grounds for arresting Morris, but he tried it anyway, wound up punching her in the face, and then -- we now know -- he lied about her kicking him. The Web site copblock.org put it all in blunt terms:
Marissa Morris was already having a bad day. Due to an eviction, she was hurriedly trying to relocate her possessions when Jeff Bonar pulled up and claimed that she had a warrant and he planned to arrest her. However, not only did the badged thug not have the warrant to show her, as is the law, he did not even explain what the warrant was for. The woman was resisting her illegal kidnapping when the power-tripping gangster decided that she deserved a punch in the face for demanding her rights.
Wow, let's review all the telling phrases used herer: "Badged thug," "he did not even explain what the warrant was for," "the woman was resisting her illegal kidnapping," and "the power-tripping gangster decided she deserved a punch in the face"? I couldn't have written it better myself.
Now, we can add "lying liar who lies" to the descriptive phrases for Bonar. This is from an azcentral.com report about Officer Winchester's report on the incident:
Deputy Joel Winchester is captured in the cellphone video footage. He is seen between the two for most of the duration of the physical encounter.
In his report, obtained by The Arizona Republic, Winchester described his role in the incident. He said in the document that Morris “resisted” as he struggled to keep her hands behind her back to be handcuffed.
“As our efforts continued in this manner, I noted (Bonar) punch Marissa around the chin area with a closed fist,” Winchester wrote. “I believe this was an effort to gain her compliance and enhance efforts to maintain control of her.”
There is no mention in the report of Morris kicking or kneeing Bonar, and few specific details about the physical struggle involving the three of them.
He did write that Morris repeatedly told Bonar that she no longer had a warrant out for her arrest and asking him to contact officials for verification.
How does this remind us of our experiences with rogue cops in Alabama and Missouri? Suffice to say that the similarities are so real, and so great in number, that I haven't slept much since reading about the Arizona incident in detail -- and it will require a followup post to explain how the incidents converge, and what we can learn from them.
(To be continued)