Assault victim’s lawyer fights for 911 tape

June 19, 2010

By KAREN VELIE

The lawyer for a developmentally disabled Atascadero man, who was physically assaulted in March by an off-duty San Luis Obispo police officer, is planning on suing Atascadero police to make the 911 call of the incident public.

The victim of the assault, Scott Summers, 50, who is seeking compensation from San Luis Obispo police officer Scott Cramer, claims he can be heard in the background of the tape screaming for help while his stepmother frantically asks police for assistance.

Terry Francke, an attorney with CalAware and a leading advocate on First Amendment issues that support keeping government open and transparent, said that tapes of 911 calls for assistance should be released under normal circumstances and that San Luis Obispo attorney James McKiernan, who is representing Summers, has a fair chance of winning a suit against the Atascadero Police Department.

Both CalCoastNews and McKiernan have filed Freedom of Information Act requests for the tape. McKiernan also is representing CalCoastNews to get the 911 tape released.

“This is a story with keen interest to journalists throughout the state,” Francke said. “McKiernan will have a lot of support if he has to go to the court of appeal.

“This has never been litigated before and it is about time. I can’t think of a better case to show why access to 911 tapes serves the cause of justice.”

In the Atascadero Police Department’s response, which refused to release the tape to CalCoastNews, Ann Jutras, the department’s support services supervisor, contends that it does not have to release the tape because there was an investigation into the incident and that it is protecting the privacy rights of the victims.

McKiernan, the attorney, disagreed, noting that Summers and the 911 caller have both provided signed releases.

In addition, according to the incident report, the case is closed, Atascadero police noted in its report on the incident.

In a subsequent phone interview in which CalCoastNews asked how the department, which has released 911 tapes to the media in the past, determined which tapes to release, Jutras said it was up to Police Chief James Mulhall’s discretion which tapes the public can have access to.

The incident report said that a physical altercation occurred as the result of a traffic incident and that neither party requested prosecution of the other.

On March 18, Summers, who lives in a disabled housing facility, was pleased when a local auto repair shop loaned him a BMW to temporarily replace his old truck, which was being repaired.

Summers said he was surprised when the owner of a red truck he passed on Old Morro Road East began racing up to his bumper. But he wasn’t worried, because he was only a few blocks from his parents’ home.

In an interview with CalCoastNews, he readily admitted that he whipped around the slow moving truck on a blind corner in the rural neighborhood.

Once at his father’s home, Summers said he had just sat down on the couch when a man started walking down the long steep driveway. His father then asked his son to find out what the man wanted.

Cramer, the off-duty San Luis Obispo police officer, began yelling at Summers, saying, “You think you are someone special because you drive a BMW?”

Before he could answer, Summers said Cramer punched him three times in the Adam’s apple, once in the side, and than threw him through a closed storm door breaking out the glass and tearing the door from its hinges.

Inside the house, his panicked stepmother called 911.

Summers claimed he was screaming for help and for someone to call 911. Cramer, Summers said, was hanging onto his foot as he laid across the doorway when he announced he was a police officer.

Cramer subsequently apologized for his actions, saying that he just found out that a relative had cancer and that he had his 8-year-old son in the car, witnesses said.

He then left before Atascadero police arrived after providing his address.

Summers told Atascadero police officer Aaron Brown he did not want to press charges as long as Cramer paid for the damages. At present, Cramer, also an Atascadero resident, has not paid for the damages.

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office declined prosecution after reviewing the four-sentence police report, which failed to provide Cramer’s name or occupation.

Atascadero police Sgt. Jeff Wilshusen said that a supplemental report provided to the District Attorneys office said Cramer claimed the physical altercation was “mutual.”

McKiernan asserts that releasing the 911 tape will help confirm Summers’ version of events that day.


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PaulJones

Step it up folks, I know about about who “some of” these player’s are than you might think.


MarkJames

I would like to add that among many friends, perhaps over 50 who nonchalantly took part in a discussion today after services, it was the general conscientious that Mr Summers and his family initially didn’t press charges due to shock and fear after being informed that they had been attacked by a ‘police officer’. Likewise, the follow up and actions taken by the Atascadero Police Department only confirmed the Summers’ family fears. I will add that while approximately 50 people spoke with each other this morning, our congregation is very large, perhaps the largest in San Luis Obispo. The Women’s and Men’s groups haven’t met yet. I’s likely that this latest concern might be addressed in those meetings.


MarkJames

My wife and I talked with quite a few members of our Church group this morning. We have been concerned about the San Luis Obispo Police Department for sometime. The officers who we suspect of drug dealing were almost the final straw a few months ago. The majority of our congregation live in SLO and we raise our children here. We are concerned about their future and the role models that we teach them or feel a need to teach them to trust, respect and obey. There is currently a ‘lack of confidence’ concession among what appears to be the majority opinion within the fellowship.


brettmx

You’ve got to be kidding me righ?. I’m beginning to wonder just how screwed up our officers are. Shit, they are getting huge sums of money and this is the best we can do. The guy needs to be fired. He’s a huge liability to the City now, if he’s involved in any sort of issue you can bet that the attorney for the “victim” is going to bring up this incident.


slomom2002

Oh it gets worse people-

My daughter went to a slumber party on Poinsettia St. in SLO- right near where 2-3 SLOPD live (one being Parkinson himself – but he was not a party to my statement below).

When she called me to pick her and her friend up early from the party- she was very upset— She proceded to tell me that the party giver was smoking pot out of a hollowed out apple and offering it to everyone (mind you the mother was home at the time as was the 11 yr. old younger sister)….she then told me the party giver said that her mothers boyfriend was growing the pot in her backyard and that he was a police officer…and then told it was “really ok” that they can’t get in trouble for it because he is a policeman….WTF!???

Are you kidding me here….so here are 14 year old girls being invited to a sleepover —at a house where a cop is growing pot in the backyard and reasoning it out to everyone and saying nothing will be done to them. Oh and the 11 year old sister told my daughter that they BOTH learned how to smoke it out of the apple like that by the cop and the mom and pretty much made my daughter and her friend feel silly for wanting to leave…sick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can tell you that my phone call to the house where the party was- when I got home went unanswered and my daughter has never been back.


Nancy

I was at the meeting when Terry Francke came to town. There were well over 200 citizens there. He is an expert in our First Amendment rights. If he said they have to give up the tapes, then they have to give up the tapes. Francke is a reserved practitioner and doesn’t just throw out an opinion without examining the details before he speaks. Anyone who met him can attest to that. It appears that we have a problem with City Hall AGAIN! Wade McKinney hired Mulhall, it’s up to Wade to bring him into line. It’s up to the City Council to let Wade McKinney know that he isn’t doing his job. When we had this problem the last time, we replaced the majority Atascadero CC and it got straightened out fast. Do we all have to do that again?


Ian Parkinson is the last candidate for Sheriff. He has way too many bullies working in the SLOPD. I remember the 4 cops that beat up the man in his own home and sprayed him with pepper spray. Then they lost every recording of the incident including the one of his interview at the SLOPD. We all got sued for that. He has two drug smugglers that are still on the payroll and now this. We should not put up with it. It’s going to take some energy to organize and clean this up but it can be done.


As for you Mr. Cramer, how dare you? We the people aren’t going to let you get away with that bull shit in our neighborhoods. What would you have done to a citizen who used the excuse that you did? We know what would have happened. Your not above the law, you’re not the law, WE ARE THE LAW, we aren’t helpless and we’re going to demand that you’re prosecuted for acting like an animal amongst peaceful citizens, YOU JERK.


JordanJ

Cramer knew that 911 had been called. He took off and ran like a common criminal before they got there. Did the APD go to his house and why wasn’t he arrested on the spot? The police don’t need someone to press charges for an assault. Summers was obviously beaten, his door was broken, his mother had called 911. When the police see evidence like that they are supposed to make an arrest.


What father does something like that in front of his 8 year old son? This guy needs psychiatric help and fast. Take him off the streets and for God sakes, take his freaking gun away.


Truth Hurts

actually it is a misd. and cops can not arrest on a misd. not committed in fron tof them,,unles it is domestic battery..there is nothing the cop could do unless a citizens arrest is signed…it elevates to a fel. if the is GBI..then they could arrest his if it is a fel….


Nancy

What the??

“misd” = misdemeanor

“fel” = felony

“GBI” = ?????


cheseburger

“actually it is a misd. and cops can not arrest on a misd. not committed in fron tof them,,unles it is domestic battery..there is nothing the cop could do unless a citizens arrest is signed,”

You are right, until there is a public out cry like the many other ordeals, are you siding with em, or do you want change,?????????? And for god sakes the dam cheseburger does better typing.


Saveslocounty

Cheseburger esq missed a couple of points again. Beating the man with the door (which broke the window) constitutes a deadly weapon making the case a felony. Chasing him into his own home and beating him with the door is a burglary, also a felony. There may also be a stalking charge for chasing him in his car if more details were released. The mutual combat disposition is generally used when two equally matched combatants get into a fight in a public place, such as a bar. Chief Mulhall simply would not allow for an actually investigation to determine what crimes may have occurred and now conceals the evidence so that his poor decisions are not uncovered.


cheseburger

“Cheseburger esq missed a couple of points again.” Thanks, and I agree, but if I took them all what would be left for the rest of you? And I completely agree with all the points in your post!

Just didn’t like the “AGAIN” word thrown in.


Saveslocounty

Fair enough.


ThomasPaine

It’s only going to get worse. In many parts of the country it is illegal to record the police at all and several people have been arrested and prosecuted for video taping police beating and terrorizing the public.


JordanJ

What area’s in this Country did you gather the information that it’s illegal to video tape the police? I’ve seen video of police attempting to confiscate video but I’ve never heard that it’s illegal to video tape them. With the cell phone capabilities out there these day’s, I’d say the day’s of cops getting away with that are over.

The biggest problem we have today is the Patriot Act, IMO


ThomasPaine

Several Marylanders face felony charges for recording their arrests on camera, and others have been intimidated to shut their cameras off. That’s touched off a legal controversy.


Mike Hellgren explains the fierce debate and what you should do to protect yourself.


A man whose arrest was caught on video faces felony charges from Maryland State Police for recording it on camera.


“We are enforcing the law, and we don’t make any apologies for that,” said Greg Shipley, Maryland State Police.


Video of another arrest at the Preakness quickly made its way online, despite an officer issuing this warning to the person who shot it, “Do me a favor and turn that off. It’s illegal to videotape anybody’s voice or anything else, against the law in the state of Maryland.”


But is he right? Can police stop you from recording their actions, like a beating at the University of Maryland College Park?


ThomasPaine

John Stossel reports that “some states’ are using state wiretapping laws to prosecute citizens who videotape encounters with the police”.

Anthony Graber was pulled over on his motorcycle by Maryland State Trooper Joseph David Ulher. Uhler drew his gun during the stop. Graber was wearing a camera on his helmet. Graber thought Uhler’s actions were excessive, so he posted the video to the Internet. Days later, police raided the home of Graber’s parents. Graber was arrested, booked, and jailed. He was charged with violating Maryland’s wiretapping statute.



Graber is due in court next week. He faces up to five years in prison. State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly has also charged Graber with “Possession of an Interception Device.” That “device” would be Graber’s otherwise-perfectly-legal video camera.


… [Jack] McKenna, a student at the University of Maryland, was given an unprovoked beating by police during student celebrations after a basketball game last February. McKenna would probably still be facing criminal charges and the cops who beat him would likely still be on the beat were it not for several cell phone videos that captured his beating. According to Cassily’s interpretation of the law, if any of those cell phones were close enough to record audio of the beating, the people who shot the videos are felons. –In Spite of State Law, Maryland Law Enforcement Officials Still Arresting, Charging People for Recording Cops


This is wrong, and a formula for corruption. Is it coincidence that corrupt political machines thrive in states that ban public taping? Illinois, which has a tough anti-taping law, is famous for corruption. Former governor Rod Blagojevich was exposed only after the Feds secretly recorded his conversations. Spiro Agnew became Vice President because his corruption was not detected when he was governor of Maryland. Maryland is also home to the Prince George’s County Police Department and its hyperactive SWAT team. Balko points out that it spent 5 years under federal oversight for excessive force


–John Stossel, Abuse of Power


ThomasPaine

Friday, June 18, 2010

‘Cops’ Run Amok, Suppress Video Tapes of Police Abuse


by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy


‘Police States’ are what they do! One of the things police states do is deny citizens a voice even as they seek to control information themselves. Lately and not surprisingly, police seek to suppress video tapes of police officers in the act of abusing people, beating them up, depriving victims of Miranda and other rights. There are efforts to make illegal the use of video cameras to expose police brutality and mis-conduct. How convenient!


http://existentialistcowboy.blogspot.com/


cheseburger

TP, I think there thinking about making new laws, about writing about this stuff too, or anything negative to the new world order! Don’t worry I know of a cave up north, we can all hide in!


Cindy

I checked in on the article and watched the video. This is scary, I thought a person who is in public doesn’t have a right to assume that their actions or words are private? I guess it’s the recording of the voice that this over zealous prosecutor is using to justify his charges. That doesn’t make any sense because people walk around with cam recorders, cell phones that record etc all the time. Anyone speaking in the back ground can accidentally be recorded. I don’t think a person has a reasonable expectation that what they say in public is private. Maybe when I have some time later, I’ll do a little research, now I’m curious.

BTW, that cop was off duty. What’s he doing pulling over a motorist dressed in plain clothes, no badge and I’m sure that wasn’t an unmarked car he was driving, we can all spot an unmarked car. Then he pulls out a gun. What if the motorists had a firearms permit to carry a concealed weapon? Somebody would have wound up shot. There are some crazy cops out there. People can say what they want about A-Town, at least our cops don’t go around beating people up, smuggling drugs, breaking into the wrong houses with a finger on the pepper spray and yes, sometimes they do sweep things under the rug but we know they will bust the under Sheriff for DUI.


Saveslocounty

It takes me more than four sentences to express my disappointment in this event, much less a police report in which the DA would use to decide upon prosecution. The role model presented to Officer Cramer’s son and to the community is disturbing, to say the least. While this off duty event may not mandate holding the officer to a higher standard, it most certainly warrants the same standard of conduct as the rest of the community.


The larger issue, IMO, is not the actions of Cramer but the total disregard of the rights of Mr. Summers. An unbiased police report should have been prepared and the 911 tapes should be made available to Summers as well as the media. Chief Mulhall holding sole discretion over the release of public information is a slap in the face of all that he was appointed to serve.


Until Officer Cramer is held accountable for his action, there will be no justice. Until Chief Mulhall honors the Public Records Act and releases the 911 tape and insists on a fair and thorough investigative report, there will be no justice. Until Chief Linden demands and holds her staff accountable to the law, there will be no justice. Don’t treat the symptom, replace the problem by appointing a Chief of Police with integrity in Atascadero and San Luis Obispo. One would think that the City Councils would get tired of the poor decisions of their police chiefs and loss of community support.


Yet again, the lack of leadership demonstrated by Mulhall and Linden is eroding the public confidence in the community service. Perhaps some new logos for the police cars should read ” To Protect and Serve When We Damn Well Please.”


slorealitycheck

So, do we know if Scott Cramer has been looked into by the SLO Police Department or has Ian Parkinson along with the inept Linden just let it slide like they did the two officers that had the drug incident? One of which was preying on an elderly person using his status as a police officer.

IS THIS IAN PARKINSON REALLY WHAT YOU WANT TO TAKE OVER THE ALREADY SHAMED SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT?


sloslo

Wow, more zany off-duty antics from SLO city’s finest. This officer, who clearly has an anger management problem, is still armed and patrolling our city streets. Let’s hope he doesn’t have another “bad day” during an incident where he has to draw his firearm or participate in a high speed chase, or innocent lives may be needlessly lost. And of course, once again the local cops are circling the wagons in an attempt to protect one of their own rather than pursuing justice for all.


Cindy

I couldn’t agree more. If this happened the way Summers say’s it happened, then Cramer needs to be taken off the streets. If any other citizen did that they would be charged with assault and a few other things. This Cramer is a danger to society off duty, what does that mean when he is on duty?


As for the APD, who the hell do they think they are? We (the A-Town citizens) had the same problem with City Hall a few years back and had to bring in Terry Francke to set them straight. A group of us hired him to give a seminar and make sure that we all knew our rights and that City Hall knew it to. Go for it CCN, show them that they have to follow the law, public records are public. Geeezz that irritates me.


hotdog

I’m with you all the way. This reeks of crummy cop stuff, again. They should be held to a higher standard. Whatever the cause the actions by the cop were criminal-once again there is justice for some, abuse for the others (us). In holding back what should be public info the APD is AGAIN showing itself to be an outlaw club. And where are Ian and Deb, asleep at the switch again?

But i guess if they disciplined their outlaw cops it would decimate the ranks. Christ…


cheseburger

Transparency, accountability and integrity all compromised simultaneously once again!

Is anyone shocked anymore, he will hide behind the force and get paid for it just like the two drug smugglers even if they did get charges in place, and futher more LEO is supposed to be trained to spot mentally challendged individuals and deal with them quit differently.


“developmentally disabled Atascadero man, who was physically assaulted in March by an off-duty San Luis Obispo police officer,”


Let’s here the tape, cops are afraid or recordings? Something to hide? I want to see the video taped confession from Crammer! He all ready gave one to the victim,


“Cramer subsequently apologized for his actions, saying that he just found out that a relative had cancer and that he had his 8-year-old son in the car, witnesses said.”


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