Fort Collins Police Release Body Camera Images, 911 Audio Of Mennonite Brotherhood Call
Fort Collins Police released body camera footage and an audio 911 call from an Aug. 22 mental health call to the Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship on Friday.
Church leaders and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a use of force complaint with the department last week, saying the officer’s “mismanaged intervention” resulted in “distress, injuries and the arrest “of the woman.
Fort Collins Police Chief Jeff Swoboda has previously defended the officer’s use of force and said the officer’s ability to use “a trained maneuver” has enabled medical personnel to obtain a medical treatment for the woman. Police said no injuries were reported by the woman or medical staff in connection with the arrest.
The woman died last month in an unrelated car crash, police said.
The Aug. 22 incident was initially reviewed by the officer’s supervisors immediately after the incident and was found to be in line with department policy, Coloradoan Swoboda previously said. An internal investigation was launched after the ACLU’s complaint was filed last week, and that investigation is ongoing.
“We can’t have enough conversations about mental health,” Swoboda said in a video statement Friday. “… We look forward to working with all who wish to continue these conversations so that we can be better tomorrow than today. “
Images, audio of the call and Swoboda’s statement are available in the video below. This story continues after. The surveillance video previously released by the ACLU is included at the top of this story.
In the audio of the 911 call released Friday, a caller – identified in the ACLU complaint as Fraternity Outreach Director Renee Schmidt – specifically requests medical assistance, not law enforcement, and said the woman had “something medical going” because she was having trouble breathing and was possibly high on drugs.
“No, we don’t need an officer. It’s not like that, ”the appellant said. “She just needs an ambulance and some sort of mental health assessment.”
Two minutes after the arrival of medical personnel from Poudre Fire Authority and the UCHealth on the scene, an intervenor of the PFA contacted the dispatch asking the police to respond also “for an uncooperative person”, according to the audio of the call.
Two minutes later, the worker told the team to send emergency police – with lights and sirens on to get to the scene as quickly as possible – because “the patient is no longer cooperating.”
The officer asks the dispatcher to tell the medical staff on site to separate themselves from any uncooperative matters and wait until the police arrive. Medical staff are seen standing around the woman as the officer arrives in surveillance footage from outside the church released by the ACLU last week.
While the officer was still on the way, a responder told the dispatcher “she calm down at this point”, but asks the officer to always respond.
Body camera images
As the officer arrives at the scene, he is greeted by a responder from PFA who says, “She’s calmed down now but she was screaming at the medical unit when we first arrived,” according to footage from the officer’s body camera that were released to the public with the 911 audio call on Friday.
The PFA worker tells the officer that the medical staff want to try to give the woman some medicine to help her calm down, then put her on a cot to transport her to the hospital.
Mennonite Fellowship pastor Steve Ramer, who was present during the incident, previously told Coloradoan he understood the woman had agreed to take something offered by medical staff to help calm her down when the officer has arrived.
While the officer speaks with an EMT on site, the woman stands up and the officer asks her to “please sit still for me”.
As the officer approaches the woman, she continues to stand and does not follow the officer’s orders to sit down on the steps. The officer grabs her to keep her from walking away, and video footage shows the woman stepping back, clenching her fist and pulling her arm back.
“There is no reason for this to turn into anything,” one of the passers-by can be heard saying.
The woman yells at the officer to “come back”, refuses to sit down and says “you can’t force me”. The officer then tells her that she is under arrest and she knocks him down. The footage then shows the officer grabbing her by the arms, pushing her against the wall and forcing her to the ground and handcuffing her.
A viewer’s voice can be heard off-screen saying “it wasn’t necessary”. One of the paramedics replies, “She attacked him. She attacked him.
“Yeah… you were working with her. You had it calm, ”replies the viewer.
Ramer previously told Coloradoan he didn’t think it was necessary to call the police and said he felt “helpless” as the incident escalated.
In a previous interview defending the officer’s actions, Swoboda said it seemed like the woman was getting ready to hit the officer, and the officer “thinks it’s gonna get worse, it’s gonna get physical, and he’s just using his hands to bring him to the ground safely. “
Swoboda previously said the woman was arrested under a pending warrant and suspected of two misdemeanor charges, alleging she failed to let the officer complete an investigation and failed to comply when she was told she was under arrest.
The officer remains on active patrol while the internal investigation is ongoing, Swoboda said in a previous interview.
Sady Swanson covers public safety, criminal justice, Larimer County government and more in northern Colorado. You can send him your story ideas at [email protected] or on Twitter at @sadyswan. Support his work and that of other Colorado journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.
This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Fort Collins Police Post Body Camera Images of Mennonite Church Appeal