Thursday, October 12, 2017

Utah nurse achieves a measure of justice as abusive cop is fired, but in Missouri, sheriff and prosecutor cling to cover-up mode in the beating of my wife, Carol

Alex Wubbels' arrest
One Utah police officer has been fired and another demoted in response to the forcible arrest of a nurse, which was captured in a video that went viral on the Web. Detective Jeff Payne was fired on Tuesday (Oct. 10), and watch commander James Tracy was demoted yesterday -- all from a July 26 incident where Payne demanded that he be allowed to draw blood from an unconscious patient, and nurse Alex Wubbels refused, stating that it was against hospital policy.

It took the Salt Lake City Police Department 2 1/2 months to dish out punishment for egregious misconduct. Meanwhile, here in the Heartland, Missouri law enforcement officers (LEOs) have been stonewalling for more than two years on producing information about our unlawful eviction, on Sept. 9, 2015, which  resulted in my wife, Carol, being beaten so severely she was left with a broken arm that required trauma surgery.

The cover-up has been so intense that we still don't know the name of the officer who broke Carol's arm. And to take matters to grotesque levels, the Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO), led by Jim Arnott, pressed for "assault on a law enforcement officer" charges against Carol -- and Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson went along with it, bringing an obvious "cover charge" that is designed to discourage Carol from bringing a federal civil rights/police brutality lawsuit.

Why do I say the cover charge is obvious? The "victim" is Officer Jeremy Lynn, and a Probable Cause Statement alleges Carol "got physical" with Lynn by "repeatedly pushing him." Curiously, Lynn states in his own investigative report that he grabbed Carol, and she tried to pull away from him. The key element in the relevant Missouri statute says the accused must "cause physical contact" with an officer, without his consent. Well, Lynn admits he caused contact with Carol, not the other way around; that means Carol is innocent -- and both Arnott and Patterson should have known that before bringing the charge. That it was brought anyway points to an ulterior motive -- and hence, the cover charge.

What happened to Nurse Wubbels was dreadful, and she has said multiple times the incident left her "scared to death." But compared to what has been done to Carol, Wubbels got away relatively unscathed. Carol has been arrested twice, taken to jail twice, had her arm shattered, probably had a concussion that never was diagnosed or treated, and still faces bogus criminal charges. Thankfully, none of that happened to Wubbels.

Here is another place where the two cases diverge: In roughly 2 1/2 months, Wubbels received some measure of justice, with disciplinary action taken against the officers who committed or oversaw her abuse. It's been 25 months since Carol was beaten -- and that's what it was, a vicious beating -- with no sign of justice on the horizon.

The cop who beat Carol hasn't even been identified, much less punished. The GCSO's own procedures manual calls for a wide-ranging investigation after a "critical incident" that results in a "serious physical injury." But we've seen no sign of any investigation.

We have, however, seen numerous signs of a cover-up. The most obvious is the cover charge Carol still is fighting in criminal court, with her next appearance set for Nov. 22. But Carol's efforts to obtain discovery for her defense offer other glaring signs of an attempted whitewash.

X-ray of comminuted break in
Carol Shuler's left arm

Here are a few examples from "State's Response to Defendant's Motion for Disclosure . . . " For the sake of brevity and clarity, we will paraphrase both Carol's request and the State's response. (The document is embedded at the end of this post, where the non-paraphrased version can be read.) Let's look at just a handful of obvious requests, which should not be matters for much debate. But as you will see, the prosecution isn't anxious to produce the material requested:

What about the names?

2. Request: Full names and addresses for all GCSO personnel who were on the scene during the eviction.

Response: We've provided the names and addresses for persons the state intends to call as witnesses and provided their written and recorded statements. Any information beyond that is not material.

The Skinny: Everyone on the premises is a possible witness to an alleged crime. But the prosecution seriously thinks identifying all such witnesses is "not material."

Who's that talkin'?

8. Request: Copies of all communications, in any format, between or among GCSO officers re: the eviction, either before, during, or after 9/9/15.

Response: We've provided law enforcement reports, and that should be sufficient. Anything else is not material.

The Skinny: This goes directly to the motives of deputies and the GCSO leadership. It's hard to imagine anything being more material than this.

Images, we want images!

9. Request: Copies of any video recordings or still images taken during the eviction -- including recordings from dash cams, body cams, or any other recording device.

Response: We're not aware of any such evidence relating to the offense with which the defendant is charged.

The Skinny: The prosecution doesn't say this material is non-existent, it just claims not to be aware of its existence. Perhaps that's because the prosecution hasn't looked for it? And get a load of that phrase highlighted in yellow above. The state says it knows of no such evidence, relating to the assault charge against Carol. Well, that's no surprise, since Carol didn't assault anyone. But Carol was the victim of an assault, and it's hard to argue with a straight face that she isn't entitled to evidence that would prove she was victimized.

Who's on the outside?

28. Request: Copies of all communications, in any format, between GCSO personnel and external parties about the Shulers and their eviction. Possible external parties include, but are not limited to, Springfield attorneys Craig Lowther and David Shuler, Springfield landlord/businessman Trent Cowherd, and Springfield resident Don Schlueter, and any political/legal figures from Alabama.

Response: We have provided names of witnesses the state intends to call, along with their written and recorded statements. Any information beyond that is -- wait for it -- "not material.

The Skinny: Carol is accused of a crime that even the "victim" admits she did not commit. That suggests someone was out to set her up. Lowther, Cowherd, and David Shuler clearly were involved in arranging the unlawful eviction, and Carol is entitled to know who else might have been communicating with the GCSO, encouraging them to falsely arrest and imprison her.

That last request is particularly important, and here's why: Unlike the Wubbels case in Utah, this does not involve just police misconduct.  It involves apparent misconduct by two or more attorneys, a landlord/businessman whose last name is fairly prominent in the community, and perhaps political/legal figures who are corrupt and influential.

For example, we've met with several Missouri attorneys and come away with the impression that they would be happy to sue the sheriff and his deputies, but they are reluctant to go after the lawyers, landlord, and perhaps other scoundrels involved.

All of that makes our task a bit more difficult than what Nurse Wubbels faced in Utah. But I can't help but be reminded of -- and inspired by -- the words of the late great Tom Petty:

Well I know what's right
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground
And I won't back down

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