Surveillance Video Shows Former Bethel Police Officer Slamming Man to Ground

Surveillance video shows a former Bethel city police officer repeatedly slamming a man to the ground in the parking lot of a grocery store during an arrest last summer. The man eventually pleaded guilty to harassing the officer. But with the new evidence, an attorney is trying to bring the case back to court.

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The camera is far away, and the video has no sound, but it shows a uniformed police officer repeatedly picking up and dropping a man to the ground in the parking lot of the Alaska Commercial Company store.

A few people pause to watch the event unfold. The officer picks the man up and slams him down at least 9 times. Nobody intervenes, including the other officer at the scene.

According to the video and police documents, the incident took place on July 12th, 2014 just after 9 a.m. A witness, Linda Green, a professor doing research in the area, reported what she saw to police and to the City of Bethel but got no response, so she went to the media. From her home in Arizona, Green says she’s relieved the video has come out to corroborate her reports.

“I’m particularly glad because it hopefully will lead to some consequences for this kind of behavior,” said Green.

The officer was later identified as Andrew Reid.

KYUK requested a copy of the video from the Bethel Police Department on March 13th, about the same time that attorney Sean Brown, who represents Wassillie Gregory, the man being arrested, made the same request.

“I’m glad to have finally obtained the video for Mr. Gregory and it reveals clearly what witnesses had told us had happened that day,” said Brown.

The video was recorded as surveillance for the Alaska Commercial store. A police officer verbally denied KYUK’s request for the video but the department never sent a formal denial. Brown says the video should have been turned over to the Bethel District Attorney’s office.

“I think it is upsetting and disturbing that even as of last week I’ve received written confirmation that the Bethel Police Department had never turned this video over to the District Attorney’s Office so that the officer himself could be investigated by the Bethel DA’s office or so that charges could be considered against the officer for the actions he took against Mr. Gregory that day,” said Brown.

Derek Reimer is a spokesperson for North West Company, the parent company of the AC store where the video was captured. When asked about the chain of events regarding the handling of the surveillance video he said:

“The North West Company has cooperated with the local law enforcement as they requested and we’re hopeful the that the matter will be resolved by them,” said Reimer.

However, an email from an attorney for the company, obtained by KYUK, says the store manager provided the Police Chief with a hard drive containing the video. The email says when the manger requested the return of the hard drive from Bethel Police the video had been deleted. The manager took the hard drive to someone in Bethel who was able to restore the video. It was then turned over to the attorney who shared it with KYUK.

The police record differs from the video and witness accounts. A police report says there was no call for police help, but Officer Reid, on July 12th responded because he observed Gregory, a quote, “Indian” male, at 9:18 am as quote, “clearly intoxicated”. The report says that Gregory made verbal threats to Reid and challenged him to a fight. The report says Reid was afraid that Gregory might be grabbing for a weapon.

In an affidavit, Officer Reid says he quote, “kindly tried to assist Gregory into my cruiser for protective custody when he pulled away … ” end quote.

The report says Reid then transported Gregory to the hospital where he was medically cleared and says he didn’t have any injuries other than a cut on his face. But a transcript from the initial court hearing quotes an Alaska State Trooper saying Gregory was at the hospital because of a dislocated shoulder and a possible broken collarbone.

Charges against Gregory of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest were dropped in exchange for him pleading guilty to harassing Reid. Brown, the attorney for Gregory, is pursuing a motion to withdraw the plea because of the new video evidence.

The City of Bethel and the Bethel Police Department referred KYUK to their attorney, Bill Ingaldson, who said he could not comment because of ongoing personnel action involving Reid and possible litigation.

Officer Reid was fired from his job at the Bethel Police Department last month. About the same time, a protective order was issued against him by a court in a domestic matter. He was hired in July, 2012.

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Daysha Eaton is the News Director at KBBI in Homer. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.