I'm sorry, Mr. Montgomery, but I'm not impressed that these are all just Class 6 felonies - knowingly and intentionally abusing a vulnerable adult like William Hughes is a class 2 felony. I may not sound like much of an abolitionist, but right now I'm not sure how else to protect prisoners with psychiatric and developmental disabilities. What you do with these guys will have major implications. The rampant criminalization (AZ has 10 times as many mentally ill in jails/prisons than hospitals) and victimization of people with mental illness in this state is profoundly troubling. If real justice here is ever served, it isn't served to them.
So, I'm going to continue to encourage people to contact you about prosecuting Gerster and Keesee under that vulnerable adult statute. Why do we have those laws if not to prevent custodial agents from abusing disabled and elderly people? I bet a lot of cops don't even know it could apply to them. I'll hold off on calling the Department of Justice in on this one, though - they already have their hands full with Arpaio's garbage, anyway. Besides, I really want to see you do this right yourself. We desperately need to know that someone in law enforcement here is really on the side of the people who get beat down the most.
I can't find out enough about Flores to say if he was restrained in the psych wing because he was high, drunk, mentally ill, or just plain "mouthy", as Sheridan put it, but how much more vulnerable can you be than to be strapped down naked in four-point restraints while the guy with the keys to your cell is breaking your jaw?
Why do they have to strip mentally impaired people of all their clothes when they're putting them in 4-points, anyway? They certainly aren't going to hang themselves in that position. That's abusive in and of itself - those folks are already traumatized. Many of us are survivors of sexual assault as it is, and the MCSO is just humiliating people on top of terrifying them. Please bring that up when you have a good opportunity. It's my understanding that you're someone who has compassion for us.
Furthermore, how could either Gerster's or Keesee's conduct be anything but an intentional attempt to inflict pain and injury? It sure wasn't necessary to bring their prisoners under control or protect the prisoner, themselves, or others from harm.
And what about the release of that former prisoner's address resulting in Gerster's buddy assaulting his ex-wife and her lover with a deadly weapon? Why is Gerster not sitting in jail right now with him? That guy is a violent, repeat offender.
In any event, how is giving Gerster three or even six years in prison for repeatedly assaulting helpless, vulnerable people when he was in a position of absolute power and trust supposed to protect public safety or ensure justice for all? By all means, though, please don't give him a deal for something less than a felony and let him walk with probation. He's hurt too many of us already - as a member of the public whose trust he violated, he hurt me, too.
Nevertheless, I do appreciate that you're at least charging the guy for all counts of assault - and that you announced when his next court date is so the rest of us can be there...justice requires that kind of transparency.
Now please go after Keesee, too. He just smashed William's head into the table for the fun of it.
To everyone else out there:
Note that the next court date for Gerster is supposed to be on December 23 (probably first thing in the AM at the Central Court Building on W. Jefferson). I don't know that a show of citizens opposing police brutality will make a difference, but I plan to be as visible and vocal as possible about justice being done for the victims of these men. For those who have been trying to find out about both Gerster's and Keesee's court dates through the Maricopa Superior Court website, it's been slow to update and I don't think they're too enthusiastic about making that info public - though their court appearances should be as publicly available as the rest of ours would be.
So, if their appearance dates aren't posted on the web, try calling the criminal court clerk's office - they're pretty helpful: 602-506-8575. Call at a little after 8am every day and be ready to go - a lot of hearings are scheduled before 9am. The case number they gave me last week is #PF 2010-162681-001. That may have changed, though (in fact, he should have a few cases, I think), so when you call the court, if they can't find the case number, tell them his birthday was in October, 1975.
****Thank you, by the way, to those MCSO jail staff who reported these two. I saw some white coats looking on as Gerster was punching and kicking William Hughes - I'm about to post on the medical neglect at the MCSO, but realize that some of you are actually trying to do the right thing there. Please stay and keep it up. We'll send help as soon as possible.***
Here's how to reach the Maricopa County Attorney, Bill Montgomery:
------------From the Maricopa County Attorney Office's website-----------
Former MCSO Detention Officer Charged With Assault, Computer Tampering
PHOENIX, AZ (December 10, 2010) – Former Maricopa County Sheriff’s Detention Officer Kevin Michael Gerster (DOB 10/23/1975) has been charged with a total of five counts of aggravated assault and two counts of computer tampering in connection with three different incidents, one of which involved the videotaped beating of a Maricopa County Jail inmate. The charges are detailed in three indictments and will be pursued as three separate cases.
Gerster is charged with two counts of aggravated assault, both Class 6 felonies, for physically assaulting inmate Miguel Flores on June 5th, 2010 while Flores was bound or otherwise physically restrained. In a separate indictment, Gerster is charged with two Class 6 felony counts of unauthorized release or access of a criminal history record on September 9th, 2010. A third indictment charges Gerster with three Class 6 felony counts of aggravated assault in an incident involving Maricopa County Jail inmate William Hughes which was recorded on video and widely disseminated on the Internet. Gerster resigned from the Sheriff’s Office earlier this month.
“Today’s indictments should send a clear and unambiguous message that no one is above the law and that everyone, even those entrusted with enforcing the law, must and will be held accountable,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “The incidents alleged in these indictments stand in stark contrast to the hard and honorable work the overwhelming majority of our uniformed law enforcement officers perform each and every day to protect the citizens of Maricopa County,” he added.
Gerster’s next court appearance is scheduled
for December 23rd.
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