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Video: Cop Smashes Elbow Into Already Restrained Man’s Head

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Officer charged with assault by his own chief

Steve Watson
July 29, 2015

A plain clothes police officer in Idaho who was caught on camera forcefully smashing an elbow into a man’s head, despite the fact that he was already restrained, has been charged with assault.

Pocatello Police Detective Steven Westfall was captured on dashcam, forcefully pressing his forearm into James Rutherford’s head, while two other officers already had him restrained and face down on the hood of a car.

Westfall is then seen raising his arm as high as he can get it and bringing down his elbow into Rutherford’s head, and holding it there with as much force as he can muster.

The arrest occurred when police were called to an IRS building with the caller suggesting Rutherford had a knife and was arguing with a security guard, while refusing to be searched.

In reality, Rutherford did not have a knife. However, he was armed with something the cops thought was much more dangerous – a cell phone. Rutherford attempted to film the cops, but he was seized by the officers, cuffed, and led out of the building.

Rutherford again stated that he did not consent to be searched, as officers tried to search him. When one of them twisted his arm, he instinctively pushed against the pressure, prompting them to force his head down onto the car hood.

Detective Westfall then stormed around to a position where he could easily get to Rutherford before smashing the elbow into his head.

Rutherford is heard repeatedly declaring that he has done nothing wrong. Three other officers then arrive and forcibly search Rutherford, emptying his pockets on to the hood of the car.

As he is loaded into the police vehicle, Rutherford is heard telling the officers that they are in trouble, and he will have someone’s badge. He notes “I even heard one of you guys say, ‘What did you do that for?,’” in reference to the elbow strike.

There was no probable cause to search Rutherford, and this case likely constitutes a violation of Fourth Amendment rights and excessive force. Likely because of this, Westfall claimed that he saw Rutherford headbutt or attempt to headbutt another officer, so had to forcefully restrain him.

Quite how Rutherford was able to headbutt anyone when his own head was already being held down on a car is anyone’s guess.

On reviewing the video footage, Pocatello Police Chief Scott Marchand, launched an investigation and ruled that Westfall should be charged with misdemeanor unnecessary assault by a police officer. Marchand’ held a press conference (video below) to explain the charges.

Many have called for Westfall, currently on paid administrative leave, to be fired and charged with a felony over the incident.

Rutherford, meanwhile, was charged with trespassing and resisting arrest.


Steve Watson is a London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.

This article was posted: Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at 10:11 am

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