News Update!!!: Bullhead City, AZ: Stout arrest: Use of force investigation under way.
By Bridget Lewison, Special to the Independent, AZ Independent (AZINews);
The Bullhead City Police Department has confirmed a use-of-force investigation is in progress regarding the Feb. 2 arrest of Robert Eugene Stout, who is charged with possession of meth and aggravated assault against a police officer. A Mohave County Sheriff’s Office deputy and the mother of the suspect spoke out this week, saying the city hasn’t been transparent regarding injuries sustained by Stout.
The sheriff’s deputy, who spoke on condition of anonymity, and Theresa Stout, say the 32-year-old Bullhead City man suffered serious head trauma when he was taken into custody after a brief foot pursuit and use of a taser. There was no mention of injuries in a Feb. 3 city press release, which was picked up widely by local media.
“Bullhead City Police Department regulations require that the use of force be documented,” department spokesperson Emily Montague wrote via email Thursday. ”Officers involved in the arrest completed a ‘Police Action Form,’ documenting the use of force in this incident. The investigation of the circumstances surrounding the use of force during the arrest of Mr. Stout is being conducted by the Office of Professional Responsibility.”
A probable cause statement obtained from Bullhead City shows two of the officers involved were Brad Holdway and David Cornelison.
A series of postings on Facebook last week by the suspect’s mother sparked an investigation by local freelance reporters and KTOX 1340-AM in Needles, Calif. The MCSO deputy came forward as a result of the station reporting the incident.
It was revealed the mugshot released by police earlier this month was a 7-year-old photo of Stout. The actual booking photos obtained from MCSO and Bullhead City show injuries to the left side of Stout’s face. He’s apparently non-responsive and is being propped up by an officer. The city said earlier this week the injuries were the result of the suspect falling on concrete when he was tasered.
Stout’s mother, who was allowed to visit her son last week, said bruises are now apparent on the right side of his face, as well as his hands and body. She said he didn’t know where he was and wasn’t acting like himself. The deputy also said “it’s pretty obvious someone beat this guy,” in addition to the injuries sustained when he was tasered.
When asked why the city released an old mugshot, Montague responded:
“When releasing mug shots with a press release, I have always chosen to release a photo of a suspect where the eyes are open and the photo is not blurred. Typically reporters request mug shots to include with their article that pertains to a significant arrest, such as a local methamphetamine dealer. Reporters usually request a clear mug shot so the public can recognize the subject. According to Chief Rodney Head, we are going to evaluate whether this is the appropriate course of action to take when releasing mug shots. Perhaps in the future, we can release the most current photo, along with a previous photo, if the current one is unclear.”
The Feb. 2 statement written by Holdway states a confidential source indicated Stout was going to be in possession of a large amount of methamphetamine, and was armed with a hand gun. According to the report, Holdway and Cornelison approached Stout on Hancock Road, identifying themselves as officers. Stout, who was carrying a small safe, then “threw it at Det. Cornelison, nearly hitting him,” Holdway wrote.
Stout, who has a history of assault and drug-related charges, was found to be in possession of 26.5 grams of meth. No weapon was found.
Montague could not provide details about the safe, saying only “it is described as a small steel safe” and that the brand is Honeywell. The company’s website lists steel safes weighing 10 pounds and up.
Stout’s height and weight were redacted from Bullhead City records, but MCSO spokeswoman Trish Carter confirmed county records show him to be 5’9″ and 160 lbs.
The department’s use of force policy, according to Montague, is “that personnel shall only use that force that is necessary to accomplish lawful objectives.” When asked if the department had a Use of Force barometer, she said she was not familiar with the term.
Asked why Stout was not taken to the Fort Mohave Indian Tribe’s jail facility, per an agreement with Bullhead City to avoid higher costs of the county facility, Montague said “pre-sentenced prisoners are not included in the agreement.”
In previous reports, it was incorrectly reported when a search warrant was served at the home of the suspect’s mother. The search took place in November 2011, and she has since been reimbursed for the damage to her front door. Robert Stout did not reside at the home but, according to police records, he spent time at the house while his mother was at work.
Montague said the November search was the result of information from a confidential source who indicated Stout was seen in possession of dangerous drugs at his mother’s house. “During the investigation resulting from the search warrant, Robert Stout’s brother, Christopher, told officers he was aware of why a search warrant was conducted at his residence. He said his brother had been selling methamphetamine out of the house for a while.”
Montague also indicated the FBI has not been in contact with the department.