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Surveillance Video Aids in Dismissal of Bethel Man’s Harassment Conviction

Video of the arrest of Wassillie Gregory would serve to have his conviction overturned. Image-Modified screenshot from KYUK video.

Video of the arrest of Wassillie Gregory would serve to have his conviction overturned. Image-Modified screenshot from KYUK video.

Almost ten months after Wassillie Gregory pleaded “guilty” to the charge of harassment in Bethel Court, that conviction has been dropped after a video depicting the incident in the Alaska Commercial parking lot in Bethel, and recorded on AC’s own surveillance cameras, spurred Gregory’s attorney to pursue the reversal.

Gregory pleaded out to the charge one day after the incident in exchange to having two other charges, one for Disorderly Conduct and one for Resisting Arrest dropped. He did so without the aid of an attorney at that time.

One of the witnesses to the incident, an Arizona professor, Linda Green, who was conducting research in the area, reported what she had seen to the police department and the city, but said she did not receive a response. She would take the incident to the media and it was her retelling of the police brutality that occurred during the arrest, that brought the incident to state-wide light.

The incident during the arrest, that occurred on July 12th of 2014, would outrage the community in Southwest Alaska and result in allegations of police brutality. Citizens of the community spoke to the city council at their regular August meeting less than a month later. During that meeting, Gregory’s sister would relate the actions of police  officer, Andrew Reid, to the council, and state, “People treat their animals better then what he did to my brother. People should be outraged.”

During the meeting, City Manager Greg Moyer advised those at the meeting that the investigation into the incident was “wrapping up.”

The video that resulted in the dismissal of Gregory’s conviction, showed officer Reid forcefully throwing Gregory  into the ground no less than 11 times, four of those times after another responding officer arrived at the scene. Although there is no audio to the footage, and the video only records the incident from quite a distance away, the video shows Gregory offering no resistance as the officer brutally subdues him then continues to abuse him.

The police report into the arrest differs greatly from the video that later came to light. In the police report, Officer Reid stated that he  “kindly tried to assist Gregory into my cruiser for protective custody when he pulled away … ” Reid continued, reporting that he had stopped in the parking lot because he observed an “Indian” male that was “clearly intoxicated,” and upon contact the officer was verbally threatened by Gregory and Officer Reid further stated that he was afraid Gregory was grabbing for a weapon.

After Gregory’s arrest he was transported to the hospital where according to the report, Gregory had sustained a cut to his face, but was medically cleared. Troopers report differently, and say Gregory was at the hospital for a dislocated shoulder and possible broken collarbone.

As part of the investigation, police took the hard drive containing the surveillance footage. But, that footage was never forwarded to the District Attorney, KYUK reported. KYUK also reported that when the store received the hard drive back from police, the video footage had been erased. The store manager took the hard drive to another person in Bethel that was able to restore the erased footage to the drive and the drive was turned over to the attorney, who in turn shared it with KYUK.

KYUK placed that footage on their site and it is embedded below from their provided footage.

It is that footage that resulted in a dismissal of conviction request from Gregory’s attorney, Sean Brown, which was granted by Magistrate Bruce Ward on Monday. District Attorney in the case, Mike Gray did not oppose.

Officer Reid was fired from his position as a Bethel Police Officer in March over an unrelated matter.