Cooperating With Police Doesn’t Mean a Thing…
If the Cops Can’t Walk..
..and Chew Gum At the Same Time
On the evening of Dec. 8, 2001 Henderson resident Charles “Chuck” Barnard heard the distinct knock of the police on his door. Confident in the knowledge he had done nothing wrong, the former Marine opened the door and was immediately confronted by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officers Steven Radmanovich, Greg Theobald and Gary Clark.
Barnard was correct; the police were not there for him. They had an arrest warrant for his brother. Not wanting to get caught up in whatever it was they thought his brother had done, Barnard immediately told the officers he would cooperate in any way he could. With his hands raised, Barnard was escorted from his apartment by Theobald, while the other officers entered the apartment to take the brother into custody.
Despite the fact Barnard had committed no crime and was fully cooperating with officers, Theobald began to handcuff him. That’s when things went horribly wrong. Apparently unable to focus on both handcuffing the innocent Barnard and watch where he was walking, Theobald tripped over a large flower pot sitting in front of the apartment. Rather than accept responsibility for his own clumsiness, Theobald began to treat Barnard as if he had caused the him to fall. Mistaking Theobald’s inability to watch where he was walking for Barnard resisting arrest., soon all three officers were attacking Barnard. They coated him with pepper-spray. One officer wedged a knee into his neck while employing a controversial choke-hold.
As a result of the incident Barnard was seriously injured, forced to undergo four spinal fusion surgeries and will most likely spend the rest of his life in constant pain. While the investigation conducted buy Metro cleared the officers of any wrongdoing, a federal jury found that the officers had violated Barnard’s civil rights and awarded him $2.1 Million. A judge subsequently reduced the award to $1.6 million, and the officers appealed the judgement, claiming they had “qualified immunity,”
Qualified Immunity shields government officials from civil liability if a reasonable person would not consider their conduct a violation of constitutional rights. In July, 2013 the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the officers appeal ruling:
“a reasonable officer would have known it violated clearly established law to use a chokehold on a non-resisting arrestee who had surrendered, pepper-spray him and apply such knee pressure on his neck and back that it would cause the collapse of five vertebrae in his cervical spine.”
Theobald, the only officer still working with Metro, was one of three officers involved in the February 1, 2012 fatal shooting of 23-year-old Jason Baires. Theobald suffered a minor gunshot wound to the hip during an exchange of gunfire while attempting to arrest Baires for the gruesome murder of his mother’s boyfriend. In 2012 Theobald salary and benefits cost taxpayers $149,342.65.
Radmanovich left Metro and joined the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office in mid 2012. Prior to moving to Winnemucca, Radmanovich cost Clark County taxpayers $97,635.78 in salary and benefits.