Arrest procedure of paralyzed man questioned

By: Stephanie Baker Email
By: Stephanie Baker Email

April 30, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Only on 12, a questionable arrest caught on tape. Neighbors claim deputies mistreated a man in a wheelchair.

News 12 took the tape to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office to see if any rules were broken.

The sheriff's office says there are guidelines for arresting people who are disabled. Neighbors in cherry tree crossing question whether those guidelines were followed.

Andrea Dawson heard shouting and screaming outside her door. She grabbed her video camera and saw deputies arresting Steve Mikel, her neighbor, who is paralyzed from the waist down.

"His legs out the car, his whole body out the car. Now he's literally on the floor," she said, describing what she saw. "The rock is on the other side pulling him in. Now his legs dangling again. They don't even care anything when they shut the door. Then they fall back out, they throwing him in the car again. Now the rock is on the other side, pushing his face in."

She says Mikel asked for an ambulance since he can't sit up on his own.

We asked Col. Gary Powell if Mikel should have gotten extra help.

"If you get someone who's actually immobilized and you can spot it, they will call and the ambulance will ride them down here to the jail," Col. Powell said.

He says some decisions depend on the situation, like the type of crime and cooperation from the person being arrested.

"We use only the force necessary to make the arrest."

But Andrea and many of her neighbors say Mikel never resisted arrest, and the way they put him in the police car was not necessary.

"He laying face down on his stomach with the catheter in front of him. He got a catheter bag," Andrea said.

Powell says he's not sure the deputies did anything wrong since he doesn't know all the details. He is looking into their disciplinary records for us.

Steve Mikel was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge for an alleged dispute he had with a neighbor.

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  • by Tyrone Location: Augusta on May 4, 2007 at 07:05 AM
    I saw the tape and clearly, the officers did nothing wrong. As for the officer called, "the rock," it was given to him because he looks like the wrestler/actor. This particular officer is one best officers left on the force. He actually strikes fear in criminals located in high crime areas. Lots of cops fear certain criminals in the neighborhood because of their gang affiliations. This officer called the rock, strikes fear in them. He is the only officer respected by 99.9% of those of us who respect or do not respect the law in this community. If we can get more officers like him, Augustas criminal activity would drop drastically. We know there will always be citizens who do not like cops, but if you learn more about this one and what he means to the community, You would appreciate cops like, "The Rock." We love You Rock/We need you, A.K.A The Ghetto/Projects
  • by Amy Location: Aiken on May 2, 2007 at 01:04 PM
    I don't think it's anyones business anyway what happened or how he was treated except Mr. Mikel! The police have a job to do and they do the best they can given the situations. If Mr. Mikel has a problem or complaint concerning his treatment, HE is the one who needs to voice that complaint, NOT THE PUBLIC!
  • by Terry Location: homemaker on May 2, 2007 at 05:28 AM
    I just saw the tape. The arrest was awkward because of the man's physical limitations and he slipped off the seat, but I didn't see anything forceful on the part of either officer. The video is rather dark, so it is difficult to see, however. What worries me is someone being arrested for disorderly conduct in an ALLEGED dispute. Are officers allowed to arrest someone just on the word of bullying witnesses, or do they have to witness the behavior themselves? Do we need to put surveillance cameras on pour property to protect ourselves from the co-dependent drug traffickers and their under-the-influence customers that bear false witness against their law-abiding neighbors because they report loud, drunken behavior after midnight? I've seen that type of retaliation happen. It isn't right and it destroyed what was left of my trust in one police officer. Yet, the drunks continued partying all night until someone else called the police at 4am. Things are not always what they seem. I hope that the officers were doing the best option under the circumstances. I have several members of my family over the generations in law enforcement so I know sometimes it's a hard call.
  • by terry Location: homemaker on May 2, 2007 at 04:57 AM
    I didn't see the tape. I hope the policemen didn't do anything wrong. Who is the "rock" and why is he called that? I know there are good and bad in every walk of life, but we need to be able to trust our peace officers. I hope the "rock" didn't overstep his authority. Anyone in law enforcement should know you can't rush to judgment about who is in the wrong, but they must defuse a situation anyway. Sometimes things are not as they seem.
  • by Anonymous on May 1, 2007 at 09:48 PM
    Yes they were forceful CSR. didn't you watch the video!!!...they did not bother to make sure he was seated properly....they forced him in a car faced down on his stomach while handcuffed behind his back. One cop was on one side of the car pushing his legs inside the vehicle while the other was on the other side of the vehicle stuffing his face in the car. His legs fell out when they tried to shut the door of the vehicle and they just stuffed them back in!!! He was not resisting arrest, how could he? He was handcuffed and paralyzed from the waist down for God sakes!! They packed him in the car like they were packing a can of tuna. And this is normal procedure?....PLEEEAAASSE!!! I would hate to see these cops when they are actually out of order...God help us all!!!
  • by erica Location: tennille on May 1, 2007 at 01:35 PM
    yes they were they were mean to him and thats not right police think they can do any thing to us because they have a badge and the rock always trying to bully people i know i use to live there i dont think that he need be a police
  • by Gina Location: Augusta,Ga on May 1, 2007 at 11:02 AM
    Another case of cops abusing power. A few bad cops such as these tend to make people not trust any cops. That is too bad, because there are a lot of good cops. Don't judge all cops by what these thugs did. I hope they are brought to justice.
  • by jenifer Location: south augusta on Apr 30, 2007 at 06:11 PM
  • by csr Location: augusta on Apr 30, 2007 at 05:38 PM
    i watched the tape on my computer and i don't see where the police did anything wrong. they were not forceful by any means.
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