Federal Civil rights lawsuit says Chief Scott Marchand and Pocatello PD failed to properly train and supervise officers.

The issue of police brutality that was filmed of Detective Steven Westfall of the Pocatello police department slamming the head of suspected trespasser James Rutherford while completely detained on the hood of a police car, has began a new chapter.  Now there is a federal lawsuit against the City of Pocatello and the Pocatello Idaho Police Department.

From an article from The Idaho State Journal on April 12th 2016.

An alleged police brutality incident involving then-Pocatello police detective Steven Westfall and James Rutherford of Pocatello last summer has entered a new chapter. The Pocatello law firm of Hearn & Wood, LLP, has filed a civil suit in federal court alleging that Westfall, the city of Pocatello and the Pocatello Police Department violated Rutherford’s civil rights.

Pocatello attorney Richard Hearn said the burden of proof in a civil action is less than the “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in a criminal case. Hearn said he believes Rutherford’s civil rights were violated last July, and he hopes a successful civil action against Westfall and the police department will shape future policies and protect people from excessive force.

The federal complaint, filed on Tuesday, alleges four main actions that violated Rutherford’s civil rights. They are the use of excessive force by Westfall, a violation of Rutherford’s First Amendment rights inside the IRS office of the Omni Building, failure of other police officers to stop Westfall’s assault on Rutherford and an orchestrated effort to cover up Westfall’s actions in initial police reports filed after the July 10, 2015, incident.

The federal civil complaint alleges that Chief Marchand and the PPD failed to properly train and supervise officers. It also alleges that police officers Kevin Nielsen, Shannon Bloxham, Forrest Peck and Sydney Seamons failed to protect Rutherford from Westfall’s attack.

Initially, Hearn filed a tort claim against the city of Pocatello, but was unable to reach a settlement. He said this led to the filing of a legal action in federal court.

“This is a civil case,” Hearn said. “We are seeking justice in a civil arena.”


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