Assault victim’s lawyer fights for 911 tape

June 19, 2010


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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I will be the first to sign up and petition for terminations, but I do need actual evidence before I start demanding that heads roll. As with the “drug smuggling” cops, I only recall that they got in trouble for and were charged for having “Misbranded” medications, I don’t recall any charges for “Smuggling” or any of the other sensationalized descriptions. Without the facts surrounding the incident, I’m not clear as to why they should be fired? In this case of the road rage, I think we should wait until all the facts are uncovered before passing judgment. I guess the best way to put it, is that with my job it would be a terrible day if someone accused me of something, or I made some mistake and the media took some opinions or versions of the facts and turned my life upside down or potentially ended my career. Everyone loves to say that “Cops get away with it”, but the reality is that they pay much more severely than the rest of us. If this assault had happened to any of us, the police would have taken a report and then asked us if we wanted prosecution because it was a misdemeanor not committed in their presence and then they would have sent it to the county prosecutors office. The prosecutors office would have sent us a letter that said “Sorry, there was lack of independent evidence to warrant proceedings” and that would have been the END of it… me I’ve been THERE. But in THIS case, this officer is potentially going to lose his job because the media loves to sensationalize. I’m not saying to EXCUSE the activity, I’m only saying to uncover all the facts available and then consider the possible consequences, including possible termination. What I can say is thank the lord I’m self employed, I would hate to have my job in the hands of media opinion.

Finally, someone who’s actually trying to be a voice of reason in this argument. Logicallyspeaking, you live up to your handle. I wondered the same thing about that whole “drug smuggling” thing that people keep throwing into any post that has anything to do with cops in this area. I’ve been following that story a bit, and I also noticed that those guys were guilty of having misbranded medications, not “smuggling drugs”. But everyone loves a good sensationalized story that they can turn into a game of telephone. This new thing about the “road rage” officer does sound bad, and I’m interested in hearing more about it when they have all the facts. I’m all about peace and love, man, but I think sometimes the media comes down so hard on someone when they only have one-sided information and they can literally ruin someone’s lives and influence whether or not someone keeps their jobs, when the person doesn’t even have a chance to defend themselves or give their side of the story. I like this site, and I’m not bashing it, but I do think some of the posters get out their pitch forks and torches too soon, and don’t listen to reason. We all make mistakes. None of us would like getting slammed in public because the media is only listening to what the other guy has to say. Give it a chance to let the whole story come out, THEN you can tar and feather them if they deserve it.

I’m a mom of 3, living in San Luis Obispo. I love this area, and I support our law enforcement. I am good friends with one of our SLOPD officers (though she is not particularly close with this officer Cramer). I think officers do have to hold themselves to a higher standard than normal citizens, but I also think a lot of people are overly harsh when it comes to officers who make mistakes in their personal lives. I think mistakes while they are on-duty can be more closely scrutinized and criticized. But sometimes I think people forget that these are still people, and they do still lead full lives outside of their jobs, and they do sometimes make stupid choices. I just wish people could focus on the circumstances at hand instead of jumping on the “SLOPD cops are all dirty” bandwagon. We are actually really fortunate to have a pretty great group of people working to keep this community safe. There are a LOT of other cities that do have very corrupt police departments, and SLO is certainly nothing like that. We should really count our blessings.

Are you stupid???

“I also think a lot of people are overly harsh when it comes to officers who make mistakes in their personal lives”

So let me get this straight. You think its ok to barge into someones house punch them in the throat multiple times then throw them through a closed storm door breaking out the glass and tearing the door from its hinges oh and then announce hes an off duty police officer. Just because someone passed you in your car???

You make me sick. The stupidity of people ceases to amaze me.

Well said and X2 @ U.

Soccergal I agree with you completely. I have lived in terrible parts of the country where police and politicians are “Good ole boy clubs” and get away with all sorts of corrupt activities. The entire county of SLO has exceptional officers in comparison with almost anywhere I’ve ever been.

roflcopter stated “So let me get this straight, You think its ok to barge into…”, because soccergal sounded supportive of police officers. I have to ask roflcopter, were you THERE? Because if I read the article right it sounds like one sides word against another. There didn’t seem to be any independent witnesses. Additionally those who comment about the driver being “Developmentally disabled” has anyone considered that this description could be used for anything from dyslexia to down syndrome, but bare in mind the guy was DRIVING a vehicle and passing other vehicles so the driver clearly shouldn’t be “enhanced” as a victim. It was probably a buzz word to sensationalize an already interesting story, which I can even understand. But in reality we should call this what it is, two adults that were involved in a road rage incident. I strongly agree that the police officer should NEVER have driven onto private property to continue the pathetic display of “battle of the male ego’s”.

That said, I certainly think that the officer should be obligated to attend anger management sessions and then re-evaluated or re-psych tested to see if the issues still exist. Based on the final scoring and progress in the sessions, then make the decision to either terminate or reinstate. But a lot of these posts seem to instantly want to fire police officers even when the FACTS have not yet been shown. If we fire all police officers that anyone makes an accusation against, or makes any type of mistake, then we will have NO ONE to staff our police force with. Come on people let the voice of reason speak up whenever possible.

some comments removed for readability and sense, site issue? use the email

one more thing; avoid replying to yourself repeatedly, that would help keep the conversation readable.

I wouldn’t be surprised that they won’t release the 911 tape because it was probably destroyed by accident or mysteriously misplaced.

I don’t like to bash our local cops, however this is ridicules. Our local cops are getting more and more increasingly out of hand. Lost guns, assaults, drug smuggling, illegal wire taping, DUI’s, missing evidence. What’s next Murder?

I have always consider myself a friend of law enforcement and have publicly stood up for them at city council meetings. No more, it’s too much unprofessional and just outright stupid behavior on and off duty. I am tired of it!

To the good cops out there, please do your jobs as best as you can. Take a stand for the good and help identify the idiots and thugs and report the misdeeds that are increasingly tarnishing your profession.

It is time the District Attorney’s office establish a county wide internal affairs unit and hire known investigators of impeccable character and experienced in prosecution of corrupt and ill behaved peace officers both on and off duty.

“Cramer is a dangerous man – he has a short fuse, he’s a cop and he appears to have been trained in the martial arts.” this is where appearance meets reality, he may have been trained in Martial arts but he never took home any principals, like don’t attack first, only use your skills when you are backed into a corner! I trained from Jordan Roth, ( a retired police officer), who trained under Oshima, from Japan, this Cramer man, he is out of control and needs a real advisory to spar with. Might humble him, with a few negative take downs in front of an audience, where he can’t pull his gun!

I listened to Karen yesterday. According to Karen the Summers “whipped” around the policeman at about 25 mph. The pickup was going about 15mph. This is a rural residential area and the speed limit is 55mph. Many drivers go 45-55 mph.

Two of the callers clearly did not understand the defensive maneuver’s Cramer used to knock Summers to the ground thereby leaving him defenseless. Also these hits with the side of the hand usually leave no bruising. You don’t have to have blood to be badly bruised and hurting for days.

One caller said if the injuries were serious he should have gone to the hospital (and incurred an emergency room bill). Frankly I think the family was in shock and didn’t know what to do and this was followed up by Cramer coming back and apologizing (to cover his butt) further confusing the issue.

If Cramer was sincerely apologetic he would have taken care of the door. But this would have been an acknowledgment that he had viciously assaulted Summers. The family, being nice people, said the door was in bad shape and needed replacement. Cramer is a dangerous man – he has a short fuse, he’s a cop and he appears to have been trained in the martial arts.

I’m wondering why Cramer was not arrested immediately after the 911 call. If you or I had gone to the private home of an individual and punched her/him three times in the throat, once in the side and then threw the person through a closed storm door breaking out the glass and tearing the door from its hinges, we would be in handcuffs before questions were even asked. This says to me a local police officer can come into your home while not on duty and inflict physical violence upon you and it all passes before blind eyes. I thought we had constitutional rights against this type of behavior (or maybe it doesn’t apply to police officers). It doesn’t matter that Cramer received bad news about a relative and his young son was with him (now there is a good role model for an eight year old), this is not acceptable.

It is no wonder why they are called PIGS with all the dirty cops we have around here. The sheriff speaks for himself, pill popping SLO cops, Undersheriff Bolts the liquor man, the Atascadero Police force, etc. It is a shame we can’t expect better from our civil servants.


COPS WHO ARE TOUGH??? Another mindless person who will be enslaved by the government someday. Cops who break into peoples homes, physically assult them, use their body to break their home apart? Then get off with NOTHING! You’re so a cop. No person in their right mind would support something like that (lol other than soccergal at the top) unless you are a cop defending your right to abuse your power. We can only hope it’s just a matter of time until the populace riot in the streets over things like this.

I guess Parkinson is an actor now too. Seems to fit him. Wonder if he got paid union scale for the commercial? How many takes did they do? Are there any bloopers (I’d love to see those)?

If Abbey Home Loans paid him straight out for the commercial then it’s OK with me. If they made a contribution to his campaign in exchange for the commercial, then it must be reported on Campaign disclosure forms.

If he did it for sneaky reasons, like to get his face out there for free, then he is a sleazeball of the highest order. Frankly, the phony slate mailers he sent out before the June election already showed me that he’s a sleazeball.

Let’s face it until he ran for Sheriff, Parkinson was a nobody outside SLO and would probably never be hired for a commercial for a company that’s based in A.G.

As for the SLOPD officer involved in this story, if the victim sues, he should sue the officer as an individual for assaulting him and the Atascadero PD for trying to cover it up.

I can’t see how SLOPD could be sued for what this bozo did off duty. That said, he should be investigated and then fired as an example and a warning to the rest of the officers.

Cops are already too macho, too aggressive and too full of themselves. If chief Linden has any integrity or any control left over her police force, she needs to do something about this crazy man who has a gun and wears a badge and chases down developmentally disabled people to assault them, all because he’s having a bad day (Boo-Hoo-freakin’-Hoo).

Thankfully, there’s an election coming up in November for SLO city council and mayor. The behavior of the police department HAS to become a campaign issue. That means every time they hold a candidate’s forum, every time a candidate speaks to a community group, the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, etc… the problems of the PD need to be thrown in his or her face.