Bethel, AK – A former Bethel cop who claimed that he “kindly tried to assist” Alaska Native Wassillie Gregory into his cruiser is now facing criminal charges. Andrew Reid, 29, is charged with fourth-degree assault and official misconduct after a video surfaced which shows his treatment of Gregory was anything but kind.
“The incident itself provoked outrage from some Bethel residents. Bethel’s tribe, Orutsaramiut Native Council, said publicly that it was concerned for community members who felt threatened by police.”
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 which needed 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.”
Reid, who was fired from the department last year, told a police sergeant that he had never thrown or slammed Gregory to the ground. He does not live in Alaska anymore, but may have to appear in court after the criminal case begins on March 15.
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.
Brown, Gregory’s attorney, said, “People should be pleased that police officers are being held to the same standard as everyone else.”
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