09-02-2016 COP

Cop Disciplined For Pulling Suspect's Dreadlocks

An angry police officer in Iowa repeatedly yanked on the dreadlocks of a handcuffed Suspect who was arrested after a dangerous high-speed chase. Waterloo Officer Adam Wittmayer, who also hit 24-year-old Montavis Keller twice on the back of the head, was disciplined for his actions after the April 19 incident. "I don't condone Officer Wittmayer's conduct whatsoever," Waterloo Police Chief Daniel Trelka said. Keller's lawyer Tom Frerichs forwarded the video to the FBI this week and asked for an inquiry. The FBI is aware of the video and is mulling whether to open a case. "I can't think of any other job in which an employee is allowed to repeatedly hit another person, pull out some of their hair and still keep their job," Frerichs said.

 The chase began when another officer spotted Keller flying through traffic. When cops attempted to pull him over, Keller sped away. Other patrol cars joined the chase as the suspect hit speeds up to 90 mph. Wittmayer was able to put down tire-puncturing sticks to disable Keller's car, which dangerously went around a school bus and then toward the officer, "who had to run to get out of harm's way," according to a criminal complaint. Black Hawk County Attorney Brian Williams asked the Iowa attorney general's office to review Wittmayer's actions after discovering the footage, according to an email obtained by the AP under the open records law. 

 "I am not prejudging anything, but I do believe it needs an independent review," Williams wrote to Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown. Brown said he believed no criminal charges were sustainable against Wittmayer in a June 17 letter, saying the officer was "understandably agitated." Wittmayer could be charged with simple misdemeanor assault, but jurors would learn of all the circumstances involved, according to Brown. "Based upon this fact and my review of the entire matter, the likelihood of a Black Hawk County jury convicting Officer Wittmayer is minimal if not completely non-existent," Brown wrote.

Keller was charged with four felonies, including attempting to assault a police officer, eluding police and possessing 42.5 grams of marijuana with intent to deliver. He did not have a prior criminal record. Frerichs handed the AP the video after the sheriff's office rejected an open records request for the footage, citing the charges. "I certainly agree that it should ultimately be made available due to transparency and public interest," Chief Trelka said. "However, this is currently a pending case." Waterloo has the highest percentage of black residents of any city in Iowa but a mostly white police department. The city has approved settlements with black residents worth nearly $3 million this year.

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