Two of Joe Arpaio's Detention Officers Face Assault Charges for Roughing Up Inmates. We Saw the Video -- it's Nuts!

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​Two of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's detention officers face aggravated assault charges after allegedly roughing up two inmates in the psych ward at the Lower Buckeye Jail.

Arpaio actually allowed us (New Times!) to join in watching the video of the alleged assaults this afternoon -- one of which was so egregious it caused another reporter in the room to shout, "Jesus!"


 

The only thing stranger than Arpaio's new-found willingness to promptly release video of deputies roughing up jail inmates (possible federal indictments against him and/or his staff seem to have done wonders for the sheriff in the transparency department, at least since we tried to get our hands on some similar videos) is that for the first time in a long, long time, a New Times reporter was allowed to attend one of his press conferences. (Our reporters have been routinely thrown out over the years.)  

In the video, 31-year-old Deputy Kevin Gerster -- employed by the Sheriff's Office since March 2008 -- is seen stomping on an inmate's neck in one video, and, in another, punching a different inmate in the face while he was heavily medicated and in a four-point restraint.

In yet another incident, Deputy Gerster allegedly used a jail database to get the home address of a former inmate, who a friend of the deputy's believed was having an affair with the friend's estranged wife. That friend of the deputy's, Dennis McCarty, was arrested shortly after he was given the address for allegedly assaulting his estranged wife -- and the ex-inmate -- with a box-cutter at McCarty's Tempe home.

As for the first assault on June 5, inmate Michael Flores is seen chained to a bed in a cell after it was claimed he was aggressive with deputies and banged his head against a wall. As dictated by jail policy, Gerster was monitoring the bound inmate from behind a desk just outside of the open cell.

"He was probably mouthing off," Chief Jerry Sheridan, chief of custody for the county's jails, says at the press conference.

Bad move on Flores' part.

Out of nowhere, Gerster jumps from his chair, tosses the desk aside, goes into the cell, and punches Flores in the face.

Three days after he was released, Flores went to a hospital and was found to have a broken jaw (get ready to pick up the tab on that one, taxpayers -- Flores already has filed a notice of claim against the county). He told hospital staff about his time as a guest of the county, and they called the Sheriff's Office, which opened an investigation into the alleged assault (it should be noted it's unclear how the inmate's jaw was broken -- he was banging his own head against a wall and was free for three days before going to the hospital. But he was punched in the face by a detention officer).

Flores was unable to identify the officer he claimed attacked him -- even after being shown photos of several of the officers he'd been in contact with the day of the alleged assault (he was heavily medicated at the time).

However, the Sheriff's Office claims it compiled about 14 hours of surveillance footage, which was sitting on a detective's desk (un-viewed) on November 11, the same day another inmate was roughed up by a deputy, which is how the MCSO connected the June assault to Gerster.

In that alleged assault, video shows inmate William Hughes led into the psych ward by three officers. He was bound and wearing a spit mask after allegedly running amok at a different jail.

The three officers put Hughes face-down on a metal table, and, as if to say "don't worry, I got the neck, boys," Gerster, out of nowhere, hops onto the table and steps on Hughes' neck with what appears to be the majority of his weight -- and he's a big dude.

The weird part about this was, none of the other officers in the room seemed to think it was a big deal.

"I think they were in shock," Sheridan says.

Or maybe it's not all that uncommon for officers to step on inmates' necks.

Gerster hops off the prisoner's neck and another officer, 32-year-old Alan Keesee, proceeds to slam Hughes' face into the table.

But Gerster wasn't done. While walking Hughes to a cell, he punched him in the head -- four times.

So why would Arpaio be so forthcoming with such outrageous footage of his officers roughin' up inmates -- when he hasn't been before?

"We have an open-door policy," he says at the press conference. "We're not hiding anything from the media...it might be an embarrassment."

(Insert "could have fooled us" jab at America's self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff" here).

Arpaio was asked why, after famously standing by his officers, he was so eager to serve up Gerster.

"I don't think I stand behind any officer who violates the law," he says. "When we do find people who violate the law we take action."

(Insert Adam Stoddard jab here).

"I personally watched these assaults on the jail-recorded video and was very concerned by what I saw," Arpaio says. "Not only shall this person lose his job, we will aggressively pursue criminal action against him. This type of behavior by a detention officer will not be tolerated by this office and this Sheriff."

What an amazing turnaround!

Wish Arpaio had felt this way back before he cost taxpayers $41 million in expenses from jail lawsuits. The figure is even higher now, since it was based on research done for a December 2007 New Times cover story. That article also reported that with a fraction of the inmate population, Arpaio's had 50 times as many lawsuits as the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston jail systems combined.

Gerster was arrested and will be charged with aggravated assault. Keesee, the sheriff says, has not been arrested, but probably will also be charged with aggravated assault.


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26 comments
loselose
loselose

ya well that hughes guy is a meth head nut case with all types wrong with him. he needs his ass kicked

Ms Info
Ms Info

Arpaio's only doing this now, while Hendershott is on leave, so he can later put the blame on Hendershott for all the malfeasance over the years he was chief deputy. This is all about creating a plausible deniability defense and throwing Hendershott to the wolves.* Just as Thomas will likely skate because Aubuchon is his convenient (and apparently willing) scapegoat.

*Remember when Manning released that deposition where Arpaio denied involvement in day to day decisions and even writing his own book?

Coz
Coz

Bullshit you piece of shit Sheridan, you and your band of monkey's have been condoning this type of behavior for years in the Maricopa County Jails you lying piece of shit.

You're no better than Hendershott or Arpaio. Just another scumbag with a badge.

>>The weird part about this was, none of the other officers in the room seemed to think it was a big deal. "I think they were in shock," Sheridan says.

Coz
Coz

I'm surprised Bozo Joe Arpaio didn't promote the pigs.

Rpk89
Rpk89

Can't say I care, in fact hit that F-ing POS again.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Arpaio sets the tone with his bluster and bombast and his jailers act accordingly. If those detention officers had appropriate supervision and grown-ups in charge at the top, incidents like these would not happen with anything near the frequency that they do."The weird part about this was, none of the other officers in the room seemed to think it was a big deal."That's because the unofficial policy of brutality towards inmates that is espoused by America's self-styled toughest sheriff has institutionalized those jailers so that it ain't no big deal to them. It's business as usual in the Maricopa County jail system. It's too bad the Arizona Counties Insurance Pool people can't come out in the open with their take on Arpaio. He is costing the taxpayers of Maricopa and ALL of the other counties in the pool BIG bucks for each payout that results from the brutality of his jail guards.That's right - sheriff Joe is a financial burden for the entire state - not just for the taxpayers of Maricopa County.

WhoKnows
WhoKnows

And two of his command staff jumped ship this past week to work for Goodyear. Thank sinking ship thing!

WhoKnows
WhoKnows

The Joker is scared shit less by the DOJ and FBI right now. The Clown that we all know should be wagging his finger and spitting, while his staff destroys the video of the event...

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

Speed Limit 55....You drive 80 ... No accountability and now worries.

You see a cop and slow down to 55 ... Accountability and worries.

Cop dissolves in your rear view mirror....slowly, gradually creep back up to 80 as the perception of accountability fades.

This was just an opportunity for Arpaio to show that he is transparent and follows the law. If we turn our back on him again, he will soon corrupt back up.

TheChef
TheChef

The Snake is beginning to eat it's tail.

J Curwen
J Curwen

"The three officers put Hughes face-down on a metal table, and, as if to say "don't worry, I got the neck, boys," Gerster, out of nowhere, hops onto the table and steps on Hughes' neck with what appears to be the majority of his weight -- and he's a big dude.

The weird part about this was, none of the other officers in the room seemed to think it was a big deal."

That's because it isn't a big deal. It's SOP. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Rollem45
Rollem45

So for 18 years the public has been short changed by the lack of openness by MCSO and self policing, now outta thin air Arpaio has become a professional law enforcement administrator...sure,just trying to mitigate the coming indictment.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

The Old Goat is now appearing to try to do the job he should have been started to do almost 18 years ago. Too little, too late. His flabby ass is going to fry.

arpaiosemployer
arpaiosemployer

clearly, you work for the MCSO or Russ Pearce's office.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Right, if you can't punch a doped-to-the-eyeballs inmate in the face while he is strapped down and completely immobile, then really, who CAN you punch?

Assuming, of course, that you are a sadistic cop and also yellow as a stick of butter.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Mike, I am amazed that someone from afar, such as Bisbee, can be so perceptive regarding about the Flaccid Fool being a statewide problem. Not only is HE a statewide problem but his influence on others is contributing to significant deterioration on many levels within the state. Look at the influence he's having on pearce and brewer. Then throw kavanaugh into the picture and the portrait becomes one of a coterie of ignorance and hate, presented to uncaring voters as being what 'they' need.

Thank you, Mike, for your perspective from afar, even if you now have the displeasure of living in Maricopa County as I do.

Coz
Coz

Question is, why would any other agency trust any of the command staff slime at MCSO ?

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Who left? I've been outta town and haven't heard that one....

Mistalee
Mistalee

What would a shitless Arpaio look like?

An empty shirt with a badge stuck to it.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Great analogy, Gerry. The Flaccid Fool is NOT to be trusted when he is shouting in your face, "I CAN be trusted! Yes, I think I can be trusted. In fact I know I CAN be trusted, I think". He's a liar, a coward, and mentally ill. NOT to be trusted.

anon
anon

Spot on comment!

anon
anon

rollem45, well said.

anon
anon

The culture of abuse of power is so entrenched in Maricopa County and the state of Arizona that it will take years to correct -- if ever.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Tommy, I like Maricopa County. We frequently camp at White Tank regional park during the cool/cold months of the year, and are regular attendees at the Aloha Festival, and other events. Although I am a U of A grad, I cheer for ASU when they're not playing the Cats. There are lots of good things about the valley and its people. I am very sorry you have such a poor bunch of public servants in certain positions of authority. We in Cochise County also have some very poor public officials - our sheriff, Larry Dever, although not as vocal as Arpaio, is a right-wing fanatic who has allied himself with Glenn Spencer, a nativist recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the leader of a hate group. Deaver, who was involved as a sheriff's deputy in that ugly mess called the "Miracle Valley Shootout" has been trying recently to clean up his image by appearing at public events to explain his side of the shootout. What he doesn't tell you is that members of the Cochise County Sheriff's Department (at that time under the command of Jimmy "Boss Hogg" Judd) circulated "hunting licenses for Miracle Valley Porch Monkeys" after that sorry event took place. That came to my attention through a friend of mine who brought one of those disgusting fliers back from a law enforcement competition shooting match that he attended and showed it to me. So when Deaver says he and the deputies involved in the killing of members of the Christ Miracle Healing Center (transplanted urban fundamentalist African Americans from Chicago) back in 1982 weren't racist he is lying through his teeth. The Pima County Sheriff's Department psychologist, who acted as a mediator between the church members and the sheriff's department during that horrible time, returned to Tucson saying that he didn't know who was crazier - the deputies or the church members.Hate and intolerance abound throughout our state right now, in rural and urban areas. We need elected and appointed officials who are willing to stand up to these hateful bullies and say NO MORE!!I am grateful that the New Times, particularly Messrs. Lemons and King, stand up to the cowards, bullies and crooks. I'd be willing to bet that Don Bolles would be very pleased with the work they do.

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