Man claims assault by Oak Harbor officer
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
July 1, 2011 · Updated 3:36 PM
An Oak Harbor man has filed a tort claim against the city of Oak Harbor, alleging that a police officer assaulted him.
Bryan McCord, 28, claims that he is owed damages for facial injuries, assault and battery, violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and violations of his civil rights.
He is asking for $40,000 in “ongoing” damages.
Charles Hamilton, the attorney representing McCord, said a police officer deliberately stepped on his client’s face while he was being arrested in Oak Harbor on Feb 6. Hamilton said the injuries did not occur while McCord was resisting arrest. McCord’s nose was injured and possibly broken.
Oak Harbor Police Chief Rick Wallace said the city denied the claim. He said officials in his department looked into the incident after the claim was filed, but found that the officers didn’t do anything wrong and the city is not liable.
“We don’t deny that he was injured,” Wallace said. “We’re just saying it’s the fault of his own actions.”
According to court documents in the criminal case, an officer saw a car without taillights traveling on SE Sixth Avenue on the night of Feb. 6. He tried to pull the car over, but the driver refused to yield and sped away.
After a short pursuit, the car went into a muddy field and got stuck. The driver of the car, later identified as McCord, got out and started running toward the Oak Bowl, the police report states. The officer chased him a few blocks until McCord entered a wooded area.
The officer wrote that McCord fell in the woods and lay face up. The officer commanded him to roll over, but he refused. Finally, another officer arrived through dense brush and the two of them arrested McCord.
The officer’s report doesn’t mention that McCord was injured during the arrest. Wallace, however, said that the second officer who was struggling through the brush accidentally stepped on McCord’s face.
Though the suspect was obviously injured, Wallace said McCord didn’t ask for medical assistance and wasn’t offered any.
According to the police report, Sgt. Jerry Baker interviewed the passenger in the car that McCord allegedly fled. Baker found a small case near the driver’s door. Inside the case was a digital scale, a pipe, and methamphetamine and heroin, the police report indicates.
Hamilton declined to name the officer who allegedly assaulted his client because the criminal case is ongoing.
Prosecutors charged McCord in Island County Superior Cort Feb. 9 with possession with intent to deliver meth, possession with intent to deliver heroin, driving while license revoked and failure to obey a law enforcement officer.
McCord pleaded not guilty Feb. 22. If convicted, he could face from five to 10 years in prison under the standard sentencing range.
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.