Obey: The Sequel

by matttbastard

This is absolutely mind boggling. 15 months ago, after having called police because she had been assaulted, an Ohio woman was arrested for “disorderly conduct” and charged with “resisting arrest”. What happened next is, in my opinion, a textbook example of excessive force (and, later, what some might call sexual assault) perpetuated by butched-up cops intoxicated by the entitlement that comes packaged with a badge and a gun.

According to Salem News, Hope Steffey is suing the Stark County Sheriff’s department for “assault, battery, unreasonable seizure and deliberate indifference by failing to provide adequate medical care.” Her husband, Greg, the athletic director at Salem High School, is also named as a claimant in the suit for “damage from “unreasonable governmental actions by the defendants.”

More:

Named as defendants are Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson, the three commissioners, Deputy Richard T. Gurlea, along with John and Jane Does numbers one through 15.

The Stark County Sheriff reportedly denied the allegations.

The narrative of court documents said that on Oct. 20, 2006 Hope Steffey was allegedly assaulted by another woman on Weimer Dr. S.E. and Gurlea responded, questioned Steffey and asked for identification and she “mistakenly” produced the driver’s license of her dead sister, which she kept as a personal memento.

She immediately recognized her mistake and asked for it back, but Gurlea allegedly refused.

Documents say she “begged” for the return of her license but it wasn’t returned.

The deputy then ran a computer check of the right license and Steffey’s cousin noticed a bald spot on her head from the assault.

The cousin “reminded” the deputy that Steffey was the victim while advising Steffey of the hair loss which made her visibly upset.

The documents alleged Gurlea failed to call for medical assistance despite knowledge Steffey was injured.

Gurlea the, documents allege, warned Steffey to calm down and Steffey replied she was upset and could exercise her freedom of speech and her cousin again attempted to remind the deputy that Steffey was the victim and she had been knocked unconscious by the assailant.

The deputy allegedly refused to acknowledge her injuries.

Court documents said that after searching Steffey’s car, he turned to the two and questioned the cousin when Steffey asked for her sister’s license back.

Gurlea allegedly turned angrily and responded “shut up about your dead sister.

Steffey pointed her finger at her sister’s license in the deputy’s pocket and said, “she was here, she was someone” and Gurlea allegedly, suddenly exploded into a rage and allegedly slammed her face into his cruiser breaking a tooth, and pinning her against the cruiser, allegedly saying, “are you going to stop?”

The documents allege Gurlea then threw her to the ground causing cuts and bruises and with the weight of his body on her she could not breathe.

Steffey was then handcuffed and told to sit in the cruiser.

Sit down, shut up and don’t even think that you have any rights–sound familiar?

Once at the station, the ordeal continued as Steffey was forcibly strip searched by 7 sheriff’s deputies–including 2 men.

The Raw Story has the grisly details:

Eventually, Steffey was arrested and taken to the Stark County Jail, charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. But once in custody, her attorney says seven jail workers, male and female, forcibly removed Steffey of all her clothes, including her undergarments, while she lay face down in handcuffs. Local news footage shows Steffey wailing, asking “What are you doing?!?”

“And you have to ask yourself, what was the purpose of the strip search?” said Steffey’s lawyer. “What was the necessity of it? This was a disorderly conduct claim.

As noted by The Raw Story, even though it is department policy for “officers conducting any strip search to be of the same sex”, Stark County Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson is trying to claim that Steffy was not actually strip searched. Yeah. And I’m sure that leaving her naked in a freezing cold cell for seven hours and denying medical assistance doesn’t constitute “cruel and unusual”, either.

Watch the video* and decide for yourselves. Just remember: Hope Steffy was the one who was assaulted, first by a member of the general public, then (allegedly) by a law enforcement official who had been summoned by Steffey’s cousin for assistance (“The cousin “reminded” the deputy that Steffey was the victim“). Later, after having been arrested for apparently no good reason other than the arbitrary whim of an overzealous (read: power-mad) sheriff’s deputy, Steffey was subsequently “raped without penetration” by those who are supposed to serve and protect the general public (so says the rumour mill, anyway).

Libby Spencer gets an unequivocal “hear hear” from yours truly:

I don’t believe in violence, but if she doesn’t win her court case and these cretins skate, I hope the good citizens of this town riot on the streets. This really shouldn’t happen in America.

Unfortunately, all too often it does happen, both in America and north of the border. Once again, we are reminded that, as far too many law enforcement officials are concerned, blind obedience on the part of the citizenry is paramount (“are you going to stop?”)

Welcome to 21st century policing, where excessive force is operational policy.

*Warning: video can be triggering.

(update 04/08 – video fixed, h/t BlueBerry Pick’n @ BnR)

h/t Crooks and Liars

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

29 thoughts on “Obey: The Sequel

  1. Bastards. Bastards. Bastards.

    And I don’t mean of your kind, mattt with three tees.

    Maybe put that triggering notice up higher so that people know.

    Goddamn.

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  2. Its not just the badge and gun that causes this level of entitlement. have a penis in a patriarchy does a pretty damn good job of producing it as well.

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  3. Unfortunately, Mrs. Meyer was found guilty of all charges by a jury of her peers.

    Police brutality exists because imbeciles are on juries. Imbeciles believe in law and order. To them it means you must respect all authority, which means the police are always right. Even though Mrs. Meyer had called 911 for help after being attacked, she is the criminal because the police say she is the criminal. And the jury believes that because that is what their pastors teach them about authority in their churches.

    These sorts of people end up on juries because when sane people are called to jury duty, they make excuses and try to get out of it.

    If you are unwilling to take part in jury duty, then do not be surprised when imbeciles pass judgment on the innocent.

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  4. Sorry, I messed up there, for some reason I was thinking her husband was last name Meyer and I was thinking Steffy was short for Stephanie in the news coverage about this, which I thought was weird they were using a nickname and I was trying to be more formal. So it should be Mrs. Steffy.

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  5. Arg, Meyer was the reporter interviewing her in the newscast – boy I was really confused there, sorry!

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  6. Anyway, here is the sherriff’s explanation, which is that she was ‘convicted in court’ of crimes as a result of the incident:

    http://www.cantonrep.com/index.php?ID=397806&Category=9&subCategoryID=0

    I find it very interesting that the sherriff says he can not say anything because of the lawsuit, but he DOES bring up personal information about her:

    “Swanson’s statement said his office investigated an incident involving Steffey. She was charged and later convicted in Alliance Municipal Court of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, he said.

    “We have answered all inquiries by the attorneys and we are prepared to proceed in a court of law, NOT IN THE MEDIA,” Swanson said in a statement.

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  7. How much exculpatory evidence was tossed out by the judge,a jury may only hear what a judge permits them to.We in Illinois have seen more than a dozen people freed from death row as a result of DNA evidence showing their innocense,how could they have been convicted in the first place….Most of the convictions were in Cook and DuPage counties as a result of “Cooked” up evidence by police with the knowledge of prosecuters….So it is easy to imagine that these “Old boys”with the bald heads could have cooked up evidence against her to protect themselves….By the way the prosecuters in Cook and DuPage counties were mosty DEMOCRATS,the party of the downtroden.Mayor Daly included.

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  8. Maybe so, but the fact remains that innocent people are routinely convicted of BS charges and the juries just fall for it. Jury nullification is a rare thing. Easy to blame the media for a peace candidate not getting traction in the primaries we just had, but the sad fact is the peace candidates got less than 10% of the vote combined. There’s only so much you can blame on the system, at a certain point the people have to take responsibility for the system they created and which they support.

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  9. What I am saying is we have lying prosecutors and disreputable abusive lying police because that is what the overwhelming majority wants. Every time someone gets tasered the blogs are full of the usual “If you would just comply with their orders they would not have to shoot you.” comments that represent the obedience to all authority mindset of the majority. If you want to fix the system, you can’t do it when almost all people think that way.

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  11. This is unbelievable! I’m from Medina County and we used to think the Sheriff and Police were the good guys. This is worse than those boys at Rutgers being set up falsely by a bad prosecutor. This should not stand! Has to go to higher court or authority!

    Dave

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  12. Guys and Gals this is commonplace. Cops are not people of integrity anymore. I hate to generalize but I have seen it too much personally. I have known too many officers personally. Damn near every cop I have personally known cheat on their wives. They lie. They steal from people during traffic stops. They give false testimony. I have even had one cop I knew tell me if his wife did not lay off on their divorce settlements he could easily have her killed and could cover up the entire thing without ever getting convicted.

    People need to seriously wake up. Police are dangerous individuals. They wield nearly unchecked power and a fraternal mindset that is feeding the US vs Them mentality.

    It happens all over the world all throughout history. Give someone too much unchecked power and you can bet it will be abused. Unfortunately the average American is fed a daily diet of t.v. shows like COPS to propagandize them into believing incidents like this are rare. No… this is the norm and it is only getting worse.

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  13. The police beat up women with alarming frequency, then charge them with fake crimes to somehow justify the police brutality. The Virginia police beat up a woman at Reagan National Airport and did the same thing to her. There needs to be a federal overhaul into the police system’s violence against women.

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  15. I am involved and a personal friend of yet another women who will become a part of a civil law suit against Stark County for placing her in jail ,for the violatation of a city oridinance She also was striped of her clothing and left in a jail cell for 22 hours with no cloths , our story is long and outragous it began in 2006 when the Stark county Humane Society ,dog warden and Magnolia Police dept came two days in a roll to our privately rented rescue barn for dogs with out a Warrant they broke in on Aug 25th 2006 they cut locks busted off pieces of wood from the barn then entered and beat kicked and strangled six dogs to death they then charged us with 2 counts each of animal crulety the trial was a joke ,every rule of discovery,evidence and procedure ,was broken the judge Mary Falvey was in on it go to Canton muncipal Court , type in Belinda Rife case no 2006 CRB 3978 you will see the nitemare we have indured and its not over yet I am still fighting the intire Canton Municipal court has recused its self from hearing my case becase of complaints made to the Ohio disiplinary counsel. Also go to Ohio Supreme Court Case 2008,1225 Canton is being run by crooks they are criminals at the highest level, the courts are infected the jail, the prosecutors , pray , I prevail against them as they are many and Iam one ,55 year old disabled women who fights alone .

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  16. When I saw the video of this incident for the first time, I was horrified. I got online and searched for any referance to victims of sexual assault or victims support. I emailed all of them and recieved only one response. From The National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The women I talked to, although seemingly simpathetic, declined to do anything. In her final email to me, she indicated that she had consulted with an x police officer and he had said that they were justified in there actions. She repeatedley refused to respond or even ackknowledge inconsistancies in the facts as stated. My final response to to her and her email address is listed below.

    Dear Ms. Campagna

    Again I thank you for responding to my email. You didn’t however, address my questions, most especially, the ones that I put in my second response email. I have copied the content of that email and added it to this email below. As far as the police being justified, well even with the best of interpretations those officers were grossly out of line. The Sheriff in the neighboring county came right out and said that as well as saying that if the same thing had happened in his department he would have the offending officers fired. Now he is an active duty police officer in charge of his department and if he thinks that it was a gross violation of this womens rights, it puzzles me as to why an organization that is dedicated to addressing issues of this nature does not, at least not enough to do anything about. you did repeatedley reffer to her as a victim so I am a little confused. As to this issue of the officers doing what they did to protect this women from herself, I have known many attrocities that were commited in the name of functional neccesity and that justification does not cover this. It’s an excuse that is getting way to old. We cannot forget or discard our humanity to facilitate any objective. If we do, then we no longer have the right to claim ourselves as civilized and you and I and all of the others who have witnessed this terrible act, bear some responsibility as well. To make sure that this matter is given its full due attention. To bring into the light something that those responsible for this act desperatley do not want known, the truth, not anybodies version of the truth, but the real truth. if we forsake this responsibility, then this incident will cease to be an isolated incident and become instead commonplace. I implore you, please don’t let that happen.

    My second email as referanced above

    Dear Ms. Campaqna

    Another question that I wanted to address, is why was she arrested in the first place. From the information that I have, she was charged with disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. Were these charges in relation to her being upset after being the victim of assault which is why the police were contacted in the first place , or her resistance to being brutally stripped naked and left in a cell for six hours by the police. Additionally, if she was suicidal as they claim, why was she released. Was she interviewed by a psychiactric proffesional or is it the policy of that police department to strip naked potentially suicidal people, leave them naked in a cell for six hours and then just let them go?

    –her email–

    Caroline Campagna

    ccampagna@nsvrc.org

    National Sexual Violence Resource Center

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  17. WhiteStar maybe I can help with your questions.

    Ok first of all NONE of these “investigations” are actually interested in finding the TRUTH about what happened in this case.

    The ONLY thing they are concerned about is if the cops did anything that rises to the level of “criminal culpability”.

    In all these “investigations” they have found that the cops make out questionable reports, they have caught them in excuses that make no sense, they have had evidence after evidence “missing” , ‘magic’ cameras, and they have even caught them in LIES.

    But they then state that nothing they have found rises to the level of “criminal culpability”.

    What this means is that they can do anything as long as they have the paper work to cover their sick, depraved, lying, worthless pieces of chit ASSES.

    The sheriff SAYS men can strip women naked, so its not illegal apparently. When I talked to Jim Gravelle the Ohio Press Secretary, I said then the sheriff can do ANYTHING and say its legal?
    He replied that is what the civil suit will determine. Although I fail to see how one will affect the other.

    As for the grand jury “investigation”, the STATE investigation spell checked the sheriff’s reports and then turned them in as FACT.

    This wasn’t an investigation as much as it was a SMEAR campaign against Steffey.

    The STATE investigation also did NOT have ALL of the evidence.

    They had the WRONG nurse prescreen interview, where they claimed she said she was suicidal.

    They didn’t have the 911 call, when the brother of the woman that Steffey claimed attacked her called the cops on HIS OWN SISTER.

    They didn’t have Steffey’s call to her husband, when she told him that she thought the cops had broken her nose when they assaulted her.

    And they were missing pages out of the court transcript….right in the middle of the arresting officers testimony.

    Some “investigation” huh?!?!

    And why was she let go after being “suicidal”?

    Because they KNEW she wasn’t, this wasn’t a suicide prevention, it was a “attitude adjustment”….police abuse under the “color of law”.

    Heres a quick Cut & Past of a post I have been putting up. It also may shed some light on what was REALLY going on:

    This is the BCI report that Agent Christy S. Palmer sent to John D. Ferrero, Prosecuting Attorney Stark County Ohio.
    Dated April 16, 2008 BCI Case #: SI-76-08-14-0147

    This is part of page 3

    Sheriff Swanson has ALWAYS maintained that Steffey was ASKED & REFUSED to remove her cloths.
    But here’s the BCI’s OWN REPORT that PROVES this is a LIE!
    And then they try to explain away their first lie with another lie, about why it was done this way without asking Steffey to do it voluntarily.

    They are trying to say that Steffey was resisting enough that EIGHT people (5 women, 3 men) couldn’t take the chance of ASKING her to remove her cloths, or EVEN TELL HER WHAT WAS GOING ON!!!
    What a crock!!

    I did NOT see any resisting in the video, I saw eight cops parading her to the cell, with her in cuffs.

    In fact EVERY video I have seen she is in cuffs!
    And the ONLY times I have seen her react to the cops is after they have assaulted her or in the process of stripping her naked.

    But apparently catching the sheriff’s dept in a lie isn’t a big deal to our “independent” BCI investigator, Christy Palmer, who seems ready to accept ANY excuse the sheriff’s dept wants to use.

    The report also goes on to say that they lowered Steffey in a slow controlled manner to the floor. Except that Steffey says she was thrown to the floor.
    She also told her husband in a phone call that she thought the cops had broken her nose.
    And she was treated by the nurse for the injury.
    And in page 4 of this report Christy Palmer even states that Steffey reported that her nose was making “crunching noises”.

    So I guess this is proof of a second LIE! (Or third)

    And still Christy Palmer, the “independent investigator” doesn’t think twice about accepting the word of the cops over the VICTIMS in spite of proof.
    BTW, Christy also references a video that she says “proves that she was lowered in a slow controlled manner to the floor”. As far as I know, THIS would have to be on the ‘non-existent’ beginning of the strip video.
    On May 5th when I asked about the “missing” video, I was told it would soon be released.
    Now here again it looks as though it’s referenced…even though they NOW claim it does not exist.
    Interesting. (I have filed a request for this video.)

    Its no wonder the grand jury found that the cop’s actions didn’t rise to the level of “criminal culpability”. How could they with the BCI investigator spellchecking the sheriff’s own reports and passing them on as FACT.

    This isn’t so much an investigation report as it is a smear campaign against Hope Steffey.

    The cops can polish this turd as much as want, this STILL STINKS!

    BTW I don’t know why they bothered to black out the names of Nurse Coren Lennon and the jail psychologist Thomas Anuszkiewicz, aren’t they PROUD of the work they do?

    ***
    Hope this clears up some of your confusion…

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  18. Well it looks like I got another piece of the puzzle that has cleared up some of MY confusion.

    I was always puzzled by the news saying that there was “confusion” when the cops arrived.

    I’m thinking what “confusion”?? They have everyone there saying that Steffey was the victim, even the cousin is saying it on video. Plus the brother of the attacker calls the cops on his own sister.

    Heck even the cop testifies that he went to his car to document Steffey’s injuries…and the cops are on tape talking about Steffey’s niece getting arrested the month before for another domestic battery charge.
    Plus Gurlea has everyone looking for Steffey’s missing hair, and Gurlea is on tape talking to Steffey as if he knows she is the victim, telling her that he will still investigate her assault even though he is arresting her.
    So WHY are the papers saying there was “confusion”!?!?
    It didn’t make any sense.

    Then Richard T. Gurlea Jr testified under oath that the investigation was never finished, because Steffey was ‘unable to contribute to the investigation’.
    HUH?? You mean ANY victim that is knocked unconscious or killed will never have their case solved!?!?!
    Because Steffey had gone back to the sheriff’s dept 4 days later to file abuse complaints & the assault. So are they trying to say she was STILL unable to “contribute to the investigation’”??
    This makes no sense at all!

    Then the cops got only TWO written witness statements, despite the fact that there were several people there.
    Again it doesn’t make any sense.

    Then I found the last piece of the puzzle that would make sense of all this…the cops tried to FRAME Steffey for the assault that she had reported!!

    Here’s PROOF the cops were actually trying to charge the VICTIM for the crime she was reporting!!

    NONE of the papers have EVER reported that Steffey was actually arrested for assault too. But this incident report clearly shows the cops were trying their best to get her charged with the assault too.

    It’s all an attempt to cover the cop’s abuse of Steffey, when witnesses said he exploded in a rage at her.
    They even went so far as to take ONLY TWO written witness statements, and they were from Steffey’s attacker & her brother…(who she no doubt threatened into it, since she didn’t know at that time he was the one to call the cops)…and she DID threaten the aunt that she thought had called them.

    The arresting cop, Richard T. Gurlea Jr., testified at Steffey’s trial that the ‘investigation’ into the assault was never finished.

    REALLY?!!? Then how do you explain the assault charges against Steffey in the incident report they filled out???

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  19. UPDATE:

    Ok here’s a video you won’t see on the news.

    Here’s the cops taking Steffey to the cell to strip her naked. This shows what was going on outside in the hallway.

    The quality of the video is pretty bad. It will seem to ‘skip’ frames for quite a while in some places, but then take a bunch in a row at other times. Why it does this, I don’t know.
    All the cameras at the sheriff’s dept seem to be in bad shape and “malfunction” right at critical moments.

    But as you can see after they video the cell being locked, they IMMEDIATLY open her cell again.
    (NO video of what was done then!)

    The rest all stand around and seem to have a good laugh.

    As you can see from the video the big guy in the white shirt, he stays at the door to the cell looking in all the time Steffey was being assaulted, and then he stays back around her cell afterwards, looking in….GEE, I wonder WHY?

    Then afterwards he’s joined by another officer who didn’t get a chance to help strip Steffey and he starts walking down to have a look too.

    You just have to wonder where their SWAT team is.

    WHY DON’T THEY JUST SELL TICKETS?!?!?!?

    BUT THEN the camera seems to malfunction, and the next thing you see is a empty hall. BUT only ONE second has passed on the time marks!
    WOW, …..MORE “missing” video from Stark County Sheriff’s Dept.

    Like

  20. Contacted John Boccieri today about the money he just got for the sheriff’s office. Asked him to get new cameras instead and to see what he could do about the jail policies that they admit are still having men strip women & leave them naked.

    LETS ALL CALL!!

    Be sure to point out this Sheriff is named in a LOT of lawsuits (7 or 8) and this crap needs to be stopped NOW.

    Contact Me

    I am here to serve the residents of the 16th Congressional District, and so is my staff.

    We can be reached in Washington D.C.at (202) 225-3876, in Canton at (330) 489-4414 , or Toll Free at (800) 826-9015.

    Boccieri District Office

    300 W Tuscarawas St.
    Suite 716
    Canton, OH 44702
    (330) 489-4414
    (800)826-9015

    Boccieri DC Office:

    1516 Longworth HOB
    Washington, DC 20515
    (202) 225-3876

    http://boccieri.house.gov/index.php?…=article&id=78

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  21. Belinda Rife, I see you didn’t do any better than Hope Steffey with a jury trial.

    From what I have seen you are better off with a judge than a jury there. The jurys seem to be filled with people who will accept anything the cops say without so much as a question.

    So who was the other woman you mentioned?
    She do any better? (I’m guessing not.)

    Like

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