Bethel, AK – A former Bethel cop who claimed that he “kindly tried to assist” Alaska Native Wassillie Gregory into his cruiser has pleaded guilty to assault and has been sentenced to jail. Andrew Reid, 40, pleaded guilty by telephone in Bethel District Court to two misdemeanor charges — fourth-degree assault and official misconduct -- after a video surfaced which shows his treatment of Gregory was anything but kind.
In the video obtained from a store surveillance camera, Reid can be seen repeatedly picking up and slamming an inebriated Gregory to the concrete before arresting him. Gregory clearly has poor motor control and is pushed away from the cruiser before being tossed around like a sack of potatoes. He sustained a fractured rib and shoulder injury that required surgery.
A visitor from Arizona witnessed the brutality on July 12, 2014, and reported it to police. Gregory pleaded guilty to harassment two days later without a lawyer present. However, the complaint from the witness prompted Bethel Police Chief Andre Achee to investigate the incident, whereupon he obtained the video footage.
It wasn’t until Gregory’s new lawyer, Sean Brown, got the video in May 2015 that Gregory’s conviction was dropped, and the City of Bethel paid $175,000 to settle a civil suit.
After this, the city sent the investigation to the FBI, which referred it to Alaska’s Office of Special Prosecutions. The charging document states that Reid’s use of force “was excessive and unnecessary.”
According to a report from Alaska Dispatch News,
The FBI led the investigation through its civil rights program that addresses official misconduct, including excessive force by police. Henderson, with the state Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, and FBI special agent Kirk Oberlander traveled to Bethel for the hearing, which lasted about an hour.
Reid's behavior violated the public trust and hurt the entire community of Bethel, Henderson said. Then Reid lied about what he did, the prosecutor said.
Reid, who was fired from the department last year, told a police sergeant that he had never thrown or slammed Gregory to the ground.
Even though the conviction against Gregory was not dismissed until after his lawyer obtained the video, the fact is that the police chief can be commended for opening the investigation after the witness complained about the brutality.
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Brown, Gregory’s attorney, said, “People should be pleased that police officers are being held to the same standard as everyone else.”
Showing her true character, Gregory's sister forgave the abusive officer in court this week.
"Others may not agree, but for me to go forward, I have to forgive you for what you did," Agnes Gregory said in court, according to the Dispatch, addressing Reid who was 4,000 miles away. "As a human being, I only wish the best for you."
"Everything that happened on that day will affect him for the rest of his life," Agnes Gregory said later.
Showing his remorse and taking responsibility for his brutality that day, Reid said, "I wish I could have served Mr. Gregory better that day. I am willing to accept whatever the court puts on me."
While accepting responsibility is certainly noteworthy, it still comes after the fact. Had his chief never launched an investigation and had the video below never surfaced, Reid would still be a cop.
"His deception to the department and to others would have continued undiscovered. That deception tarnishes every police officer who wears the uniform. It creates distrust in the community," Magistrate Judge Bruce Ward said before sentencing Reid to 120 days in jail.
According to the ruling, Reid must repay $13,593 for unemployment benefits he wrongly collected. He may also have to pay personal restitution to Gregory of an amount to be determined.
Below is what "kindly assisting" looks like in a police state.