You think Occifer Mullock was a bad egg? You Ain't seen nothing yet. Interesting series of articles I just hit on....
Part One of Peter Lance’s 2011 DUI series Santa Barbara News-Press
SBPD officer may have manipulated DUI evidence : Investigation uncovers inconsistencies, possible forgeries involving Kasi Marie Beutel
By PETER LANCE, SPECIAL TO THE NEWS-PRESS
Poster at Santa Barbara Police Department hailing DUI arrest star, Officer Kasi Beutel.
Drager Alcotest 7410 evidential preliminary alcohol screening device.
June 22, 2011 3:05 PM
Walk into the lobby of the Santa Barbara Police Department, turn left and you’ll discover the framed poster of a smiling female officer. Affixed with a gold star, the poster reads, “Top DUI Officer — Gold Pin Winner — Kasi Beutel.”
At the age of 38, only six years into her law enforcement career, Kasi Marie Beutel is the reigning queen of an elite group of cops who specialize in arresting drunken drivers.
Last year she was honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the consortium of a dozen county-wide law enforcement agencies known as Avoid the 12 for her self-professed record of 331 driving under the influence arrests; more than half the felony and misdemeanor DUI collars of the entire Santa Barbara Police Department and a record almost three times as great as the 111 attributed to her next closest Santa Barbara colleague, Officer Doug Klug.
On May 10, she topped her own record, winning the same two awards for 2010 with an astonishing record of 349 purported arrests, beating out 40 other police officers, sheriff’s deputies, California Highway Patrol officers and personnel from other state and federal agencies with a record more than 10 times the average arrest figure of the other nominees. Her winning total accounted for 21 percent of the combined 1,656 county-wide DUI arrests last year cited at the MADD and Avoid the 12 awards presentation.
A former accountant and mother of three who enrolled in the police academy in 2005, Kasi Beutel has amassed an impressive statistical record. In accepting the 2009 award at ceremonies in Buellton, she told the media that more than half of her arrests were for .15 blood alcohol content, which is almost twice the legal limit of .08 percent.
Last year, from a pool of 100 applicants, she was chosen one of eight winners of Project Transformation, a physical makeover program worth $11,000 conducted at the California Health and Longevity Institute located at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, just a 15-minute drive from her home in Newbury Park, in Ventura County.
“I’m not like most women,” she told a local newspaper. “I don’t just need to make it through an aerobics class. I want to be able to chase down a motivated 25-year-old suspect who’s running from me.”
One press handout for Project Transformation described Officer Beutel as “similar in many ways to a comic book superhero. By day she is a soccer mom. . .By night, she guards the community in the role of police officer.”
But after a nearly six-month investigation into Kasi Beutel’s methods and investigative tactics from 2009 to 2010, as well as into her background in the years leading up to her work as a Santa Barbara police officer, this special News-Press investigation has uncovered evidence that not only raises serious questions about her credibility, but suggests that in some cases she may have effectively framed innocent drivers who were alleged to have blood alcohol levels close to the .08 legal limit.
Among the revelations:
• Officer Beutel overstated the actual number of DUI arrests she made in 2009 that led to the MADD and Avoid the 12 awards. And in nominating her for the 2010 awards which she accepted, the Santa Barbara Police Department over-reported her actual number of DUI arrests by almost 15 percent.
• In multiple arrests in 2009 and 2010, she made a number of material misstatements of fact in police reports, and in at least two of her cases in 2009 that led to convictions, exculpatory evidence was withheld from arrestees who were later found guilty.
• In two other cases, a nationally ranked handwriting expert who examined the files has sworn under penalty of perjury that the signatures of arrestees who purportedly waived blood tests witnessed by Officer Beutel were forged.
• There is evidence that before becoming a police officer, Kasi Beutel committed fraud in a 2000 Chapter 7 bankruptcy by holding onto a $270,000 home in Agoura Hills under the Homestead Exemption, at a time, she later claimed, she was living in a townhouse just blocks away with then-husband Todd. A certified public accountant, Todd Beutel had filed a similar Chapter 7 bankruptcy 19 months earlier, claiming that the townhouse was his sole property and thus exempt from creditors.
• The total credit card debt between the two, wiped out by their back-to-back bankruptcy filings, amounted to almost $200,000 and included 24 credit cards between them.
• Then, during divorce proceedings in 2005, Kasi Beutel may have committed perjury when she claimed that her 1997 marriage to Todd, (which she’d previously sworn to) actually took place on January 15, 1999, two days after his bankruptcy was discharged.
• On April 24, 2000, just prior to filing her Chapter 7 petition, Citi Financial Inc. entered a default judgment against Kasi Beutel under her maiden name, Kasi M. Moore, in Van Nuys Municipal Court. While the amount of the actual judgment was not listed in her petition, Kasi Beutel listed three separate debts to Citi-related entities totaling $16,562.00.
The application to become a Santa Barbara police officer lists “lack of well balanced credit” among “Potential Reasons for Rejection.” At this point, for reasons explained below, it’s unclear whether Kasi Beutel disclosed her troubled credit history in her application to the department in 2005.
Comparing her DUI arrest stats to other officers
Until recently, Officer Beutel was the principal officer assigned to the Santa Barbara Police Department’s Drinking Driver Team, a position that accounted, in part, for her success, according to Senior Deputy Jeff Farmer of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, who spoke to reporters at the MADD and Avoid the 12 awards ceremony May 10.
“That’s all she (Beutel) does,” said Deputy Farmer. “Just works DUIs. Works nights. So as long as she’s working, she’ll get the DUI (arrest).”
To prevent burnout in the job, according to Deputy Farmer, the Santa Barbara Police Department rotates the DDT officers every two years. But by any measure, Kasi Beutel’s arrest statistics are unparalleled.
According to data supplied by the department, the previous DDT Officer Christine Ortega had 164 DUI arrests in 2007 and 96 in 2008. Prior to that, the officer with the highest reported arrests was Mark Corbett, who preceded Officer Ortega on the Drinking Driving Team.
In 2004, Officer Corbett put the handcuffs on 257 DUI arrestees — a benchmark that might make for some interesting talk at the breakfast table, because in early May, he and Officer Beutel were scheduled to be married. And as we’ll see in this series, he’s been present on the scene of at least two of her most questionable arrests.
In one case from August 2009, Officer Beutel Tasered a man she’d pulled over for a DUI stop; a driver later proven to have a blood alcohol content below the legal limit.
In another case, five months earlier, after an initial breath test failed for a female suspect Officer Beutel pulled over in downtown Santa Barbara, she arrested the woman, handcuffed her, locked her in her patrol unit and drove her to a second location where she allegedly coerced the young woman into taking a second breath test on a different device — with Officer Corbett’s help. This second test, 25 minutes later, produced results which appeared to confirm Officer Beutel’s initial conclusion that the young woman was driving under the influence.
The credibility of officers is key in DUI cases
“When it comes to the drunk-driving laws, the credibility of the arresting officer is central to a conviction,” says Mary Frances Prevost, a San Diego-based criminal lawyer who helped expose Officer Thomas Broxtermann, a San Diego Police Department DUI cop and MADD award winner who had been removed from a DUI enforcement task force for “falsifying police reports of DUI stops,” only to return to the job apprehending other DUI suspects.
“Credibility is usually the deciding factor,” says Felix D’Amico a 33-year veteran of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department who observed more than 5,000 DUI cases in his career. “That’s because in a DUI stop, a certified officer like Kasi Beutel can literally arrest a suspect on the basis of whether or not she asserts that they failed a field sobriety test. So at trial, it often comes down to her word versus the word of the accused and in 99.9 percent of the cases, judges favor the police.”
“No judge ever got thrown off the bench by being too tough on a DUI case,” says Darryl Genis, the veteran Santa Barbara defense attorney representing me, who has tried a number of cases with Officer Beutel as the principal prosecution witness.
“You’ve got a perfect storm of potential abuse,” says Mr. Genis. “First of all, the (Drager) Alcotest 7410 breathalyzer used by the Santa Barbara Police Department can be manipulated to enhance BAC readings. An officer who knows how to cover the exit port can take a .04 BAC, which is half the legal limit and make it appear in an official printout to be a .09 or more, thereby framing a subject. Second, Santa Barbara is the only major department in Avoid the 12 without video in the cars to ensure that field sobriety tests are properly conducted. Add to that, the incentive for a cop like Kasi Beutel to push suspects who are close to the .08 level over the line for career advancement, awards and, most importantly, overtime.”
“An officer can easily double their base salary with the overtime that comes from DUI work,” says Mr. D’Amico, the former sheriff’s sergeant.
“These guys pick up so much overtime,” adds Ms. Prevost, “because they’re being called into court for motions, suppression hearings and trials.”
“You work the graveyard shift, like Beutel,” says Mr. D’Amico, “and if there’s a trial or hearing scheduled the next day, you’re on time and a half. And if you schedule your days off in the middle of the week, you’re on the clock from the time you leave your house until you finish in court which can mean 10, 15, 20 hours of overtime in a week, till you’re back on the clock again.”
“Now take Kasi Beutel,” says Mr. Genis, “who got an award for an average of 29 arrests a month last year. If even 10 percent of her cases go to court or the DMV, she’s golden.”
The numbers behind Kasi Beutel’s DUI arrests
This investigation uncovered some alarming questions about the actual number of arrests that the Santa Barbara Police Department reported for Kasi Beutel between 2009 and 2010.
In response to a request for her statistics filed under the California Public Records Act, the News-Press obtained printouts showing that she made 315 arrests in 2009, compared to the 331 for which she nominated herself resulting in the 2009 MADD award.
The discrepancy in the reporting of her 2010 arrests was more significant. In fact, the department-provided printout that included the date and time of each DUI arrest and the specific Vehicle Code violation, showed that Officer Beutel had actually made 299 arrests — 50 fewer than she was cited for by MADD and Avoid the 12.
But those conflicts pale when one studies the actual Officer Beutel DUI arrest printouts in detail.
Analyzed in conjunction with the DUI round-up, a detailed summary of drunk driving arrests released by the department, they show a repeated pattern of inconsistencies in Officer Beutel’s DUI arrests. For example, on March 20, 2010, Office Beutel made three DUI arrests. The official printout puts the times at 1:55 a.m., 2:18 a.m. and 8:40 p.m.
The first two incidents were only 23 minutes apart, a period that defies the typical length of time required for a legal DUI stop, field sobriety test, breath test and arrest. “It averages about 90 minutes from stop to jail,” says Mr. D’Amico, “and if you add a blood test, that could mean another half hour.”
The DUI round-up for that same night also lists three arrests by Officer Beutel, with slightly different arrest times — the first two, only eight minutes apart.
“On 3/20 at 1:42 a.m., Officer Beutel stopped (a 38-year-old) in his large white pickup, at 100 W. Cota Street for running stop signs, crossing into the opposing traffic lane, and weaving. (The man) was arrested for DUI.”
“On 3/20 at 1:50 a.m., Officer Beutel responded to 500 E. Anapamu Street on a vehicle collision. (An 18-year-old) had crashed the family van through a fence, down an embankment, and onto the basketball courts of Santa Barbara High School. (He) was arrested for DUI.”
On June 13, 2010 the printout and DUI Round-up are in agreement about the two arrests by Officer Beutel, but this time, they’re only three minutes apart: “On 6/13 at 2:21 a.m., Officer Beutel stopped (a 21-year-old) at 300 State Street, in his 1996 Pontiac Grand Am, for weaving over the center line and running a stop sign. (He) was arrested for DUI, unlicensed driver, no insurance, and driving with an open container of alcohol.
“On 6/13 at 2:24 a.m., Officer Beutel responded to 1400 block of Chino Street on a call of a hit-and-run collision. A taxi driver reported that he was sitting in his parked cab when a 2004 Toyota Corolla with a flat tire came thumping down the street toward him. . . . Officer Beutel arrested the driver . . . age 21, for DUI, hit-and-run, and possession of marijuana while driving.”
Thirty-six DUI arrests in one month
According to the Santa Barbara Police Department printout, between June 3, 2010, and July 4, 2010, Kasi Beutel made 36 DUI arrests, prompting this comment on a local blog: Officer Beutel . . . probably deserves a ‘spa day’ more than any other woman in Santa Barbara.”
“Three hundred and forty-nine arrests in one calendar year is an extraordinary number,” says former San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Felix D’Amico. “You have to consider that with vacations, training days and sick leave, an officer has probably 215 actual working days in a year. Add to that, my experience that for every 100 stops we did on saturation DUI patrol we got 16 to 18 arrests. Even if she’s just sitting on bars, waiting for possible suspects, for this officer to make 349 good DUI collars, she’d have had to have made thousands of stops in the course of that year; a figure that strains belief.”
According to both the Santa Barbara Police Department printout and the DUI round-up details supplied by the department, on August 22, 2010, Officer Beutel made four arrests. The problem is two of the arrests took place in different locations at the same time:
“On 8/22 at 12:40 a.m., Officer Beutel stopped (a 24-year-old) in his 1994 Mitsubishi, at 1100 San Andres Street, for speeding, weaving, and for driving over the center line. (He) was arrested for DUI and unlicensed driver; he provided a breath sample of .15 BAC.”
“On 8/22 at 12:40 a.m., Officer Gaston stopped (a 54-year-old) in his 2001 Acura Integra at 800 Santa Barbara Street for expired registration. Officer Beutel arrived to assist and arrested (the man) for DUI. He provided a breath sample of .09 BAC.”
“Something is clearly wrong here,” says attorney Darryl Genis. “Either she’s not making all the arrests she’s taking credit for and piggybacking on other officers, or the department is cooking the books on her DUI arrest stats — either way it’s a problem that goes directly to Kasi Beutel’s credibility because she’s embraced these statistics as truthful.”
Protected by the D.A. and a judge
In recent weeks, scandals have erupted involving two alleged “dirty DUI cops” in California and North Carolina. The cases, in which Officer Brandon Mullock in Sacramento and Barry Grimes in Charlotte, N.C., were found to have lied, have now jeopardized hundreds of DUI cases in both jurisdictions.
We’ll have more on those cases later in this series. But as noted, the credibility of a DUI officer is crucial to convictions and in the course of my defense and this independent investigation for the News-Press, the evidence I’ve uncovered underscores the lengths that both the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office and a senior Superior Court judge have gone to protecting the reputation and credibility of Officer Beutel.
On April 22, in the case of the People vs. Peter Lance, we had what is known as a Section 1054 discovery hearing in Dept. 12 of Santa Barbara County Superior Court. It was presided over by Judge George C. Eskin, a veteran jurist whose reputation for thoughtful rulings is underscored by the two ceramic owls he keeps on the edge of his bench.
“Given that Kasi’s credibility would be crucial at trial,” says my lawyer, Darryl Genis, “the only way we could properly impeach her would be to explore various statements we knew she had made.”
Mr. Genis wanted to put the officer on the stand at this hearing to answer under oath not only the basis for the 331-arrest-figure for which she won the award in 2009, but for something she apparently told a North County publication: “I am a patrol officer first, and try to give people respect and education. I offer breathalyzer tests to people when they leave the bars downtown, most usually resist and get in their cars anyway. Then I have to pull them over later for driving under the influence.”
“Think about the truthfulness of that statement,” says Mr. Genis. “From Parking Lot No. 12 on Gutierrez Street to The Granada Garage 10 blocks north, there are a dozen parking lots or structures in the State Street bar corridor. If Kasi Beutel is in uniform offering breath tests to exiting bar patrons, nobody who refuses is going to let her follow them to their car. That means you’d have to involve a dozen undercover officers who would follow these people. Even then, if they saw these suspects getting into their vehicles, Kasi wouldn’t have a reasonable suspicion to stop them, because it’s not illegal to exit a bar and get behind the wheel.”
But when Mr. Genis tried to question Officer Beutel, who was present at the April 22 hearing, to confirm the quote and whether she had made the 331 arrests that got her the award, Deputy District Attorney Sanford Horowitz objected and Judge Eskin denied the request.
What follows is a section of the hearing transcript:.
Judge Eskin: I don’t think Officer Beutel is the witness to be called.
Mr. Horowitz: I don’t either.
Mr. Genis: Your Honor, she’s the person who supposedly made these arrests.
Judge Eskin: According to whom?
Mr. Genis: Until I put her on the stand, I don’t know.
Judge Eskin: You’re fishing. You’re fishing.
Mr. Genis: No. I’m absolutely not. I am attempting to prevent a situation where Officer Beutel attempts to get on the stand and says whatever she wants and I can’t cross-examine her about it . . . My question to you is, would Officer Beutel accept the 2009 MADD Award for 331 arrests if she knew that she had not made that number of arrests? . . .And if your answer to that is that she wouldn’t . . . then why wouldn’t you let me put her on the stand to ask her if she made 331 arrests in 2009 under oath?
Judge Eskin: I think it’s irrelevant . . . And all I’m involved in is the prosecution of a case involving a .09 blood alcohol level and I’m going to try and control it. I haven’t done a good job as I said. But I’m not going to let this court be used as a vehicle for Mr. Lance to pursue his agenda.
Mr. Genis: I don’t think you’re . . .
Judge Eskin: His agenda in this courtroom is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that “I was not under the influence of alcohol.” That’s his agenda. And it should be your agenda. Not the attempt to destroy the career of Officer Kasi Beutel.
Mr. Genis: I’m not trying to destroy anybody’s career.
Judge Eskin: Nobody could read these pleadings and not come to that conclusion . . . You have not made one, provided me with one scintilla of evidence, that Kasi Beutel went around telling people that, “I made 331 arrests last year.” Not one piece of evidence. Not one fact.
The judge denied our request to put Kasi Beutel on the stand under oath to determine whether she was the source of the figure of 331 arrests in 2009.
Then, four days later, we got the answer, not via the court and the discovery process, but pursuant to the California Public Records Act. On April 26, the Santa Barbara Police Department turned over an email dated January 5, 2010, from Kasi Beutel to Win Smith of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department in response to an earlier request from Deputy Smith for MADD and Avoid the 12 nominations. In it, she wrote:
From: Beutel, Kasi
Sent: Tuesday, January 05, 2010 11:59 AM
To: Smith, Win
Subject: RE: Winter DUI Enforcement Campaign Win,
Stats for the annual MADD Awards for 2009
Officer Klug — 111
Officer Beutel — 331
Have a great day!
“So the court was accusing my client of having some kind of agenda,” says Mr. Genis, “steadfastly protecting this officer and refusing to let her get into a situation where she might be committing perjury, and now we had it via a public records request: she was the one who claimed she’d made the 331 arrests. Nobody else. Kasi Beutel. And now that we have the additional printout via that same law, we can prove that she lied: she over estimated her 2009 stats by 16 and the department lied by overestimating her 2010 DUI arrests by 50.”
“You have to appreciate the significance of this in terms of the dozens and dozens of people who have been convicted of a DUI offense or pled guilty largely on the credibility of this officer,” adds Mr. Genis. “She’s the DUI star. The Gold Pin Winner. If she is willing to lie about her own arrest statistics, what else is she willing to lie about relating to those cases? The underlying facts, perhaps? The breath results perhaps?”
I contacted Brenda Frachiseur, the assistant state executive director for MADD, to ask her whether she thought the overstatement by Officer Beutel of her DUI arrest statistics reflected negatively on MADD.
“I believe that it hurts the police officers, or the police agencies or law enforcement agencies that provide us with those statistics,” Ms. Frachiseur said.
In early March, we filed a motion asking Judge Eskin to review Kasi Beutel’s application to the Police Department (among other aspects of her department file). We wanted to see if she had been honest about disclosing her bankruptcy and credit problems. But the Santa Barbara City Attorney vehemently opposed our motion and Judge Eskin declined to review the application in her file.
Asking that a judge recuse himself for bias
On May 13, I filed a declaration under Section 170.1 of the California Code of Civil Procedure asking that Judge Eskin either recuse himself from my case for prejudice and bias toward Officer Beutel or that, if he refused, he be removed.
Less than three hours after the filing, while denying any prejudice or bias, Judge Eskin removed himself from the case.
Then, on May 27, I sent Kasi Beutel an email describing my findings in general and requesting an interview to get her response. While she didn’t get back to me — and still had not by press time — she did answer a series of questions put to her by News-Press Correspondent Catherine Shen, who covered the May 10 MADD awards presentation.
In response to a question about her unparalleled DUI arrest record, Officer Beutel stated, “A large portion of my success can be attributed to the Santa Barbara Police Department and its aggressive approach to public safety. We employ a dedicated DUI enforcement car that is utilized on the busiest days and at the busiest times. It is with the assistance of the public and the patrol officers, I was able to apprehend and arrest so many DUI drivers. . . I very much approach most DUI arrests as an intervention of sorts.”
There’s little doubt that Officer Kasi Beutel has intervened in the lives of hundreds of drivers in Santa Barbara, many of whom came away with indelible marks on their driving records or worse. A number of her arrestees who pled guilty or no contest ended up on house arrest. One of them is a lifelong Santa Barbara resident and commercial fisherman who began wearing an electronic monitoring device on May 26.
His encounter with Officer Beutel in August 2009 began with a routine traffic stop and ended up with him getting shot with two projectiles in his chest that pierced his skin after the officer fired her Taser at him at point blank range. We’ll have his story Thursday in Part Two.
Part Two of the Peter Lance series covers a case by the same occifer..........
Part Two of Peter Lance’s 2011 DUI series Santa Barbara News-Press
The stun gun and the DUI stop
By PETER LANCE, SPECIAL TO THE NEWS-PRESS
Michael Kenny wears an ankle bracelet after pleading no contest to resisting arrest. Charges of DUI and battery on Santa Barbara Police Officer Kasi Beutel were dropped for lack of evidence in the August 2009 incident. Officer Kasi Beutel, shown here the night of Michael Kenny’s arrest in August 2009, filed a worker’s compensation claim over shoulder injuries she said she suffered in the Kenny arrest. But the official report of that night’s incident states she was “not injured.”
June 23, 2011 5:01 PM
Second of five parts
Michael Kenny is a commercial fisherman who dives for sea urchins in the sometimes frigid waters off the Channel Islands. It’s a dangerous job, but nothing he ever encountered at sea prepared him for the life-threatening event that occurred the night Officer Kasi Beutel of the Santa Barbara Police Department pulled him over for a traffic stop and ended up shooting him at point-blank range with a stun gun.
The arrest occurred in August 2009, the year Kasi Beutel won the Gold Pin from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for achieving the top DUI arrest record in Santa Barbara County.
But the case raises serious questions, not just about how far Officer Beutel was willing to go in pursuit of a DUI arrest, but the lengths to which supervisors at the Santa Barbara Police Department went to protect her and validate her conduct.
Officer Beutel’s version of the Kenny case
The following are verbatim excerpts from the official report on the incident submitted by Office Beutel: “On 8/22/09 at approximately 2125 Hours (9:25 p.m.) I was on uniformed patrol . . . on Cliff Drive when I observed a late model pick-up . . . driving Eastbound. The truck did not have any rear lights, no tail lights or brake lights . . . It was a dark area and the truck, which is dark in color, was difficult to see. I pulled in behind the truck which was traveling at approximately 45 MPH . . .and the truck quickly braked and made a sharp right turn onto La Marina Street. I conducted a traffic stop on La Marina just south of Cliff Dr.”
“I contacted the driver who was sitting in the driver’s seat. He had one female passenger and a medium sized dog in the vehicle. He identified himself as Michael Kenny with his California (driver’s license). I immediately noticed a smell of alcoholic intoxicant coming from his person; his eyes were bloodshot and watery. I asked him if he had any alcohol tonight, he stated no. I asked him to look at me so that I could check his eyes, at which time he turned his head away . . . I asked him to retrieve his registration and insurance and told him that I would be right back.”
After returning to her patrol unit and determining that Mr. Kenny had a DUI conviction six years earlier, Officer Beutel called for a “cover officer” to assist her and shortly thereafter, Officer Gina Battaglia arrived.
At that point, by her own account, Officer Beutel returned to the driver’s side of Mr. Kenny’s 1978 Ford truck and asked him to step outside so that she could perform a field sobriety test. Officer Battaglia was standing at the curb on the passenger side. Heather Vaughn, the young woman who had accompanied Mr. Kenny, was in the passenger seat.
As Officer Beutel continued in her report: “(Kenny) refused to step from the vehicle. I informed him that he was being detained and that I needed him to step from the vehicle in order for me to ascertain that he was not too impaired by alcohol to safely drive.
“At this time he began rolling his window up. I placed my hands on his window to prevent the window from being rolled up and ordered Kenny to hand me his car keys. He refused . . . and continued to roll the window up. With my left hand on the window in an attempt to keep it down, I placed my Taser, which was in my right hand, against Kenny’s shoulder and informed him that he would be Tased if he continued to resist. I also informed him that he was subject to being arrested for delaying or obstructing an investigation.”
In a separate report, Officer Battaglia says that after her arrival, she moved from the passenger side of the truck to the driver’s side “to assist Beutel.”
“(Beutel) was holding onto the window to keep Kenny from rolling the window up and demanding that he give her his keys,” Officer Battaglia wrote. “I grabbed onto the window to assist Beutel. She retrieved her Taser and pointed it at Kenny and advised him if he did not comply with her commands he was going to be Tased . . . Kenny refused, locked his door and continued to roll his window up.”
Both officers insisted in their reports that Mr. Kenny was now moving to exit the car on the passenger side. Officer Battaglia reported that his “dog was very agitated and was aggressively barking.”
Allegations of battery on Officer Beutel
As Officer Beutel recounted, “Kenny was attempting to scoot out of the vehicle, feet first. I placed myself in front of the open door and ordered Kenny to stay in the car. I had my Taser in my right hand and was attempting to tell Kenny that he was going to be Tased if he continued to be non-compliant. I informed him to stay where he was until a supervisor arrived on scene. With his right foot, Kenny kicked me in the right hip. After kicking me, Kenny attempted to push forward. I deployed my Taser at close range, approximately 2 feet. The Taser probes hit him in the chest . . . Kenny then pulled the Taser probes from his chest, forcibly pushed me with both hands and shoved me backwards as he exited the vehicle . . . Kenny then stepped around the open passenger door and began sprinting Southbound on La Marina.”
At this point, another six officers, in addition to officers Beutel and Battaglia, responded and a search commenced. Mr. Kenny was found minutes later with his dog hiding in a nearby house under construction. He was cuffed and ultimately charged with DUI, battery on a police officer and resisting arrest.
Michael Kenny’s version of the case
According to Mr. Kenny, 42, a lifelong resident of Santa Barbara who operates the fishing boat Patty Ann, prior to the stop, he had been at the Mesa Café; on Cliff Drive attending an informal wake for a fellow fisherman. He offered to give Ms. Vaughn, whom he’d just met, a ride home, because she was living on a boat at Santa Barbara Harbor. In a handwritten report he made shortly after the event, he described what happened after Kasi Beutel pulled him over on La Marina.
“The officer approached the driver side window, which was rolled down about 10 inches. She said that I was pulled over due to my rear lights not working. She then asked me for my driver’s license which I provided. She then went back to her car . . . When she returned she asked for my insurance and registration which I provided.”
“I repeatedly requested to be arrested so I could give a (blood alcohol content) sample. I didn’t believe I was drunk. If she wasn’t going to arrest me I asked for her to cite me with a ticket or release me. At this request, she became very loud and aggressive and reached into the truck to unlock and open the door. I put my hand over the lock and she tried to pull the window down with her hands. She then pulled her Taser and put it to my temple and then to my shoulder and chest demanding that I exit the truck.”
By Mr. Kenny’s account, all of this took place on the driver’s side of the truck.
“At this time, it seemed to be a good idea to comply, regardless of what my rights were. I was exiting the truck as instructed. However, the officer (Beutel) was trying to restrict my movement by leaning on the door . . . I exited with my arms bent and hands up, palms facing her. My dog was agitated, so I had his leash on my wrist. As soon as I cleared the door, the officer shot me at very close range with the Taser. Shocked, I pulled out the projectiles and ran in fear.”
In the Rashomon, “she said, he said,” world of DUI arrests and investigations, the People vs. Michael Kenny, case number 1327059, was typical in that the ultimate disposition would come down to the word of Michael Kenny, a fisherman with a 6-year-old DUI conviction under his belt, versus the word of Kasi Beutel, the award-winning lead officer on the Santa Barbara Police Department’s Drinking Driver Team.
But the evidence uncovered in this investigation demonstrates not only that Officer Beutel lied in her police report, but that key evidence which might have resulted in a dismissal of all charges against Mr. Kenny, was withheld from his defense lawyer.
The officers’ accounts versus the dispatch log
The first misstatement of fact in Officer Beutel’s police report of the 2009 incident comes in the first line when she cites the time that she pulled Mr. Kenny over on La Marina as “approximately 2125 hours” or 9:25 p.m. In fact, the department’s dispatch log on the incident shows that the traffic stop occurred 10 minutes earlier at 2115 or 9:15 p.m. Even fellow officer Gina Battaglia states that she responded at 9:16 p.m. and the dispatch log documents her arrival seven minutes later at 9:23 p.m. As Officer Battaglia noted in her report, “When I arrived, Office Beutel was walking to the driver’s window to contact . . . Michael Kenny.”
But if Officer Beutel’s account is to be believed, Mr. Kenny was shot with the stun gun just one minute, 29 seconds into the stop — an impossibility, not just because the dispatch log proves otherwise, but because there’s an official report of the Taser’s firing time contained in the police report. It proves that Mr. Kenny was fired on at 9:26:29 p.m. — 11 minutes, 29 seconds after the stop.
The police report also contains troubling evidence of a cover-up by Officer Beutel and other officers associated with the incident. Officer Beutel made an audio recording of the incident and a transcript of that recording, when compared against the dispatch log, proves that a number of minutes are missing from the recording that was turned over to Mr. Kenny’s lawyer. Those minutes would have documented the period when Officer Beutel attempted to get Mr. Kenny out of the truck by threatening him, through the window with the Taser.
A verbatim transcript of that recording that follows begins 2 minutes, 26 seconds into the stop when Officer Beutel walked back to Mr. Kenny’s car after checking his license. It continues to the purported time she fired her X26 model Taser into him with a charge of 50,000 volts.
OFFICER BEUTEL: Mr. Kenny, can I have you step out of the car for just a minute?
MR. KENNY: Ma’am, what for?
OFFICER BEUTEL: Yeah, I smell a little bit of alcohol and I want to evaluate you out here. I was waiting for my cover officer to arrive. So I just want to make sure you are OK. I know you said you haven’t had anything to drink and it’s possible you haven’t, but I would just like to check your eyes out here at a straight angle, which is easier for me than in the car.
MR. KENNY: OK
OFFICER BEUTEL: OK, so if I can have you step out of the car I’d appreciate it.
MR. KENNY: Well, at this point I would like to ask you to either cite me, release me, or . . .
OFFICER BEUTEL: At this point, what we have an option of doing . . .
MR. KENNY: (unintelligible)
OFFICER BEUTEL: OK, but that’s what I’m going to have you do, I’m going to have you step out so I can check you, to make sure you’re not too impaired to drive. OK?
MR. KENNY: Um, not necessarily.
OFFICER BEUTEL: Well, you don’t really have an option. If you’d like me to call the supervisor to come and hang out with us on scene while we do this, I can. But right now, you are being detained because I want to make sure that you’re OK to drive because I smell a little bit of alcohol. OK?
MR. KENNY: Um, can I call an attorney?
OFFICER BEUTEL: No. You don’t have a right to call an attorney right now. You’re simply being detained. You are certainly not under arrest right now . . .
At this point, about 3 minutes, 22 seconds into the recording, there is a decided break, both in tone and content. While Mr. Kenny’s voice remains calm as he sits inside his truck, Officer Beutel becomes suddenly agitated. We hear what sounds like Mr. Kenny attempting to comply with Officer Beutel’s request that he get out of the vehicle, but her voice level and direction take a radical turn:
OFFICER BEUTEL: No, no, no, no! No. You’re about to get yourself Tased or in trouble. Hand me the keys. Hand me the keys!
MR. KENNY: Oh really, you’re going to Tase me?
OFFICER BEUTEL: Hand me the car keys! Hand me the car keys! Hand me your car keys!
MR. KENNY: You’re really going to Tase me?
OFFICER BEUTEL: Right now I’m at the point where I feel like . . . Hand me the car keys! Hand me your car keys!
MR. KENNY: Really? My sister works for the District Attorney’s Office.
OFFICER BEUTEL: Hand me your car keys.
MR. KENNY: Are you sure you want to?
OFFICER BEUTEL: Hand me your car keys.
Mr. Kenny’s small, gray Australian cattle dog, Pete, who is in the front seat of the truck, starts barking. At this point, 3 minutes, 48 seconds into the tape, Officer Beutel asks Officer Battaglia to call for a supervisor. The dispatch log shows that Officer Battaglia called in a “Code 3 and Supervisor” at 9:26 p.m.
OFFICER BEUTEL (to Officer Battaglia): Call for cover. (to Mr. Kenny) Hand me your keys! (to Officer Battaglia) For a supervisor!
MR. KENNY: This isn’t legal.
OFFICER BATTAGLIA (calling it in): Code three.
MR. KENNY: It’s not legal.
OFFICER BEUTEL: Hand me the car keys! Hand me the car keys. Hand me the car keys. You’re about to get arrested for resisting arrest.
MR. KENNY: You’re about ready to break the law!
OFFICER BEUTEL: You’re about to get arrested for resisting arrest.
MR. KENNY: I’m not resisting arrest.
At this point, by Officer Battaglia’s account in her report, she was still on the driver’s side, attempting to assist Officer Beutel. Then suddenly, Heather Vaughn, Mr. Kenny’s passenger, exits the truck on the passenger side and Officer Beutel screams at her:
OFFICER BEUTEL: Stay in the car! Stay in the car!
OFFICER BATTAGLIA: Do you want me to go get her?
OFFICER BEUTEL (to Officer Battaglia): Yup. Now I want you to go open the door right there.
MR. KENNY: I haven’t been arrested . . . I haven’t done anything wrong.
OFFICER BEUTEL: Nope. You’re being detained. Open the car.
At this point, Mr. Kenny is still in the driver’s seat.
OFFICER BEUTEL: OK. You drive away.
MR. KENNY: I want to call my sister.
At this moment, 4 minutes, 17 seconds into the tape, Officer Beutel seems bent on keeping Mr. Kenny from driving away.
OFFICER BEUTEL (to Mr. Kenny): Stay here, stay here.
There appears to be another break in the tape. We hear several seconds of dead air and then:
OFFICER BEUTEL: Good god.
OFFICER BATTAGLIA: We’re not breaking the law.
MR. KENNY: Yeah, you are breaking the law. I’d be happy to step out of the car.
Now, in a matter of seconds, Officer Beutel goes from demanding that Mr. Kenny get out of the vehicle to ordering him to stay inside.
OFFICER BEUTEL: Nope. Nope. You’re gonna stay right there right now until we have a supervisor.
At this point, by Mr. Kenny’s account, he began exiting via the driver’s side door.
OFFICER BEUTEL (shouting): Stay there! Stay there! Stay there!
MR. KENNY: You can go ahead and Tase me if you’d, like . . .
OFFICER BEUTEL: Stay there! Stay in the car! Stay in the car, you’re gonna get . . .
The Taser goes off.
MR. KENNY: Ouch!
OFFICER BEUTEL (screaming): Get down, get down, get down on the ground!
At this point Mr. Kenny pulls the two Taser leads from his chest and takes off running with his dog as Officer Beutel gives chase, calling in her location on her radio.
OFFICER BEUTEL: Foot pursuit down La Marina! Foot pursuit! Affirmative. Foot pursuit down La Marina towards the beach!
The aftermath videotaped for ‘On Patrol’
The distress call from Officer Beutel resulted in at least three Santa Barbara Police Department patrol units being dispatched to the scene to search for Mr. Kenny. Sergeant Chad Hunt arrived accompanied by a video crew shooting a segment of “On Patrol With Santa Barbara P.D.,” the local variation of the Fox series “Cops,” which airs weekly on KCOY.
Sgt. Hunt, who narrated the segment, is actually seen passing Mr. Kenny on the street as he walks with his dog, a block away from the Taser incident. Mr. Kenny hid out in a nearby house which was under construction and was apprehended, according to the dispatch log, at 9:35 p.m., less than nine minutes after Officer Beutel fired the Taser.
In the video from the “On Patrol” episode that later aired, Mr. Kenny is seen in the construction site lying face down on the floor as Sgt. Hunt and Officer Mark Corbett, the former DDT officer who became Officer Beutel’s fiance;, stand him up and walk him out.
Moments later, the video shows Sgt. Hunt and Officer Corbett processing the handcuffed Mr. Kenny near a patrol car back at the scene of the initial stop. At that point, on the video, Officer Beutel is heard in voice-over referring to Heather Vaughn: “He had a passenger in his car. As soon as he started going south and rolling up his window, she jumped out and sat on the curb.”
Moments later, Officer Gina Battaglia is seen saying, “I showed up and she (Officer Beutel) was on the driver’s side, like starting to argue with him. And like he’s trying to roll the window up . . . Like both her and I are holding the window down so he can’t roll it up . . . The Taser goes off. But it’s like, (Mr. Kenny) was (gesture of surprise) . . . launched off and he was gone.”
At that point in the “On Patrol” segment, Officer Beutel claims that Mr. Kenny kicked her: “He kicked me once right here (gesturing to her right thigh area) and with his arms, at that point I had the Taser (she pushes out her arms to indicate Kenny’s actions) he just shoved me as I was trying to step back, I had the Taser going off . . .”
Missing minutes on the recording
A comparison of the Santa Barbara Police Department dispatch log — which has a series of indicators pinpointing events like the Code 3 call — against a transcript of the audio recording, shows that almost seven minutes appear to be missing from the audio turned over to Mr. Kenny’s lawyer.
Even though by the accounts of officers Beutel and Battaglia, they confronted Mr. Kenny on the driver’s side of the truck, and tried to roll the window down, there is nothing on the recording to document when that took place. Also, there is nothing on the recording to document the assertion by Mr. Kenny that Officer Beutel reached through the window and touched the Taser to his body.
“The recorded evidence of Beutel putting her Taser through the window could have been extremely helpful to Kenny’s defense,” says Darryl Genis, the veteran Santa Barbara DUI defense specialist who is representing me in a DUI case where Officer Beutel was the arresting officer. “The complete recording should have been turned over as exculpatory Brady material by the police. If the tape was edited, that raises serious questions of a cover-up.”
The landmark decision in Brady v. Maryland (1963) requires a prosecutor to disclose exculpatory evidence to a defendant, a duty that, through case law, has been extended to law enforcement agencies.
A questionable account of a test by Beutel
Another contention by Officer Beutel in her report about the DUI stop related to a purported test she performed on Mr. Kenny while he was seated in the truck. “I asked him to look at me so that I could check his eyes, at which time he turned his head away. I again asked him to look at me, he asked me if I wanted his registration and insurance. I told him yes, however I wanted to check his eyes first. I was able to get a brief look at his eyes and was able to see nystagmus at maximum deviation prior to him again looking away from me.”
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is one of three common examinations administered by police officers to test the sobriety of drivers in DUI stops. The testing protocol designed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration involves a three-step test lasting up to 80 seconds in which a cooperative DUI suspect is asked to follow a stimulus, like a pen, while the officer checks his gaze.
“Based on my reading of Officer Beutel’s report in which she found nystagmus at ‘maximum deviation,’ I would find that impossible,” says Robert LaPier, a former lead DUI investigator for the Idaho State Police who examined the Kenny file at our request. “In this case, the subject, Mr. Kenny, refused to show her his eyes. To conduct the test properly and conclude there was maximum deviation, the officer would have had to test each eye with the stimulus twice for up to four seconds per eye for a total of 16 seconds. Only then could she have determined whether the deviation was ‘distinct and sustained.’ That conclusion just couldn’t have resulted under these testing conditions.”
D.A. drops the DUI and battery charges
In a booking sheet attached to the report Officer Beutel wrote, “Kenny attempted to exit the passenger side of the vehicle and ignored commands not to move. Kenny kicked me in the right hip with his right foot. He then forcibly shoved me backwards as he exited the vehicle.”
The Santa Barbara Police Department treats officer battery cases seriously. But there is no evidence, in the police report, beyond Officer Beutel’s assertion that Mr. Kenny kicked her, that a battery occurred. Even Officer Gina Battaglia who backed up Officer Beutel’s claim that Mr. Kenny exited on the passenger side, failed to mention in her narrative of the events any contact with Officer Beutel by Mr. Kenny as he left the truck.
“There were no pictures of Officer Beutel’s alleged injuries in the file that Kenny received.” says Mr. Genis. “Standard operating procedure in a battered peace officer case is to take photographic evidence of the injuries. But beyond Beutel’s claim that Kenny went after her — a story that might help explain why she Tased him at point blank range — no other evidence was presented.”
In fact, on page nine of the Santa Barbara Police Department report, which lists Victim #1 as “Beutel, Kasi,” the entry in the section “Type of injury” states “none.” And in the section “Injury sustained by officer,” it says “not injured.”
Officer Beutel files workers’ comp claim
Nonetheless, despite no evidence in the police report beyond Kasi Beutel’s claim that she was injured, and despite her initial insistence that Mr. Kenny had kicked her in “the right hip with his right foot,” a workers’ compensation claim was filed on her behalf alleging that she sustained an injury to her shoulder “while taking Kenny into custody.”
[B]On June 17, 2011, Mr. Kenny’s attorney received a letter from Julia Alcocer, a risk analyst with the city of Santa Barbara’s Finance Department stating: “Officer Beutel has now completed treatment for these injuries which included $2,274.02 in paid medical costs to date and $5,488.87 in temporary disability payments.” The city has asked the District Attorney’s Office to “request that charges against Michael Kenny include restitution for the damages,” which total $7,762.89.[/B]
“To get this letter 24 months after I was Tasered, when there is zero evidence in the police report beyond Officer Beutel’s word that she was injured, is beyond belief,” says Mr. Kenny. “Didn’t anybody in the risk management department read the police report where it says on page nine that Officer Beutel sustained no injuries?”
Kenny wasn’t DUI
Perhaps more troubling than the lack of hard evidence to support the battery claim and this latest claim for workers’ compensation damages, was the test of Mr. Kenny’s blood alcohol content performed at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital after he was taken into custody. The report shows a BAC of .07, which is under the legal limit.
“In other words,” says Mr. Genis, the lawyer, “this guy gets shot with 50,000 volts after he gets pulled over for a DUI and he wasn’t even under the influence as a matter of law.”
After months of costly litigation for Mr. Kenny, the D.A.’s office ended up dropping the DUI and battery charges and Mr. Kenny pleaded no contest to the charge of resisting arrest.
Did the tasering violate department policy?
By Officer Beutel’s own admission in her police report, she placed the X26 Taser “against Kenny’s shoulder.” He claimed that she also touched his head. Moments later, she fired the X26 at a range of two feet, indicating that the “Taser cartridge” with its “blast doors” containing the explosive leads, was fixed to the front of the weapon at the time she placed it through the partially open driver’s side window.
Just how dangerous was that action? In bold letters, the manual for the X26 from the manufacturer (Taser International) warns officers to “KEEP BODY PARTS AWAY FROM the front of the TASER cartridge.” Further, the Police Department Policy Manual authorizes Taser use only “to subdue or control: (a) a violent or physically resisting subject or (b) a potentially violent or physically resisting subject if . . . other available options reasonably appear ineffective or would present a greater danger to the officer or subject.”
“In this case you had a suspect who was inside a locked truck,” says Felix D’Amico, a retired sergeant from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department who spent 23 years working DUI cases and examined Officer Beutel’s account of the Kenny incident. “He had no legal obligation to exit the vehicle and perform any field sobriety tests or the nystagmus test. You had a second officer deployed on the other side of the vehicle. I wasn’t there, but it’s difficult to understand how an officer would use a Taser to coerce a DUI subject out of a vehicle and then deploy that weapon absent solid proof of an attack.”
Beutel misstates Kenny’s arrest history
At the end of her narrative in the police report on Michael Kenny’s 2009 arrest, Officer Beutel writes, “It should be noted, Kenny has an extensive criminal history including prior arrests for DUI, resisting arrest and battery charges.”
Yet a computer printout of Mr. Kenny’s record, contained in that same police report, shows only the single DUI arrest for a stop in November 2003 and some minor traffic violations. The printout shows no other arrests for resisting arrest or battery, one of the charges in this case that was ultimately dropped by the district attorney.
Thousands in legal fees and lost earnings
Apart from surviving the stun gun penetration, Michael Kenny’s interaction that night with Officer Kasi Beutel has been costly. After nearly a year of litigation and more than $8,500 in legal fees, fines and related costs, he’s now on house arrest, forced to submit to 35 days of electronic monitoring by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department. The sentence, which began May 26, prevents him from diving for sea urchins; his principal source of income.
“Keeping me out of the water will cost another $8,000 in earnings,” says Mr. Kenny.
Perhaps even worse, when it comes to his reputation, Mr. Kenny has seen the Santa Barbara Police Department version of his case played and replayed on “On Patrol.” Even though the DUI and battery charges were dropped months ago by the D.A.’s office, a rerun of that segment titled “Officer in Foot Pursuit,” was included in the “Best of On Patrol” that aired April 2. It contains the following commentary from Sgt. Chad Hunt who signed off on Officer Beutel’s report of the Kenny incident:
“He’s likely DUI, resisting an officer. Battery on an officer, ’cause as he was getting out he kicked her with his foot on her upper leg and hip to get her out of the way.”
“They know that the blood evidence didn’t support the DUI,” says Mr. Kenny. “They also know that there wasn’t a shred of evidence presented beyond Beutel’s allegation that I kicked her, which is why they dropped the charges, yet this episode continues to replay unedited, leaving the impression that I drove drunk and attacked a female police officer.”
“It’s amazing that in the year 2009, a U.S. citizen can be driving without being under the influence, have his life threatened and have an indelible mark on his record as a result of an overzealous cop who is willing to lie and get other officers to back her story just to rack up another DUI arrest. How much did my prosecution cost the county of Santa Barbara? There were eight officers involved, a year of litigation, court time, the D.A.’s time, the judge’s time. It had to be thousands and thousands of dollars and for what?”
Seems like occifer Beutal picked the wrong person to try and trump up DUI cahrges on.....Peter Lance continues to pick apart the occifers credibility and even exposes criminal acts on her part........
Part Three of Peter Lance’s 2011 News-Press DUI series
Forger claims focus on DUI blood-test waivers
By PETER LANCE SPECIAL TO THE NEWS-PRESS
Third of five parts.
Alison Woolery, a 26-year-old UCSB graduate whose best friend was killed by an impaired driver when Ms. Woolery was a young girl, saw her plans of becoming a nurse shattered after she was arrested by Santa Barbara Police Department Officer Kasi Beutel on suspicion of DUI.
Right after the stop, Ms. Woolery asked Officer Beutel if she could take a blood test, but the decorated DUI officer, a star of the department’s Drinking Driver Team and recipient of Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s Gold Pin for her DUI arrest record, reportedly told Ms. Woolery that wasn’t “an option.”
Then, when an initial breath test administered by Officer Beutel produced results that made Ms. Woolery’s conviction doubtful, the officer handcuffed Ms. Woolery, locked her in the back of her patrol unit and took her to another location where she allegedly coerced her into taking a second set of breath tests that led to a guilty plea.
The case of the People vs. Alison Woolery is one of the most extreme examples, uncovered in this five-month investigation of just how far Kasi Beutel is willing to push a suspect to get proof of a blood alcohol content above the legal limit.
But it has even more disturbing implications.
When Ms. Woolery was finally able to study her police report in detail, she noticed something wasn’t quite right. While the Notice to Appear — the ticket she signed and stamped with her thumbprint — was in the file, she also came across a form that she had never signed. It was a waiver giving up her right to the very blood test that Ms. Woolery asked Officer Beutel for after her arrest on March 13, 2009.
A nationally ranked handwriting expert who analyzed Ms. Woolery’s purported signature on that waiver in the course of this investigation, has concluded it was a forgery.
The signature was reportedly witnessed by Officer Mark Corbett, the former head of the Drinking Driver Team whose wedding to Officer Beutel was scheduled for May 1. To make matters worse, two additional blood waivers examined by the same expert in this investigation were found to contain forged signatures. Both were witnessed by Officer Kasi Beutel.
“The right of a DUI suspect to take a test that saves a sample to measure their BAC is the only safeguard a suspect has after a DUI stop where there is no video evidence from the stop,” says defense attorney Darryl Genis who is representing me in a DUI case stemming from a stop by Office Beutel. “The reason is that the Alcotest 7410 Plus breathalyzer used by the Santa Barbara Police Department is so vulnerable to manipulation by an officer in the field, that the only independent proof an arrestee may have is a blood or urine test where the sample can be preserved and re-tested by the defense. As to video, the SBPD voluntarily removed all such units from their patrol cars years ago.”
Manipulation of the Alcotest 7410 plus Breathalyzer
On March 1, 2006, the California attorney general issued a bulletin to chiefs of police, sheriffs, the California Highway Patrol and district attorneys statewide warning that “Blocking the exit port of the mouthpiece” on the 7410 Plus “can affect the readings of a subject’s breath alcohol concentration.”
Mr. Genis recently served a subpoena on Drager Safety Inc., the manufacture of the Alcotest 7410 Plus, to obtain the source codes for the devices. He also shot a video, accessible on YouTube in which he demonstrates how covering the exit port on the device and restricting the breath from escaping, can turn a purported BAC of .04 (below the .08 legal limit in California) into a .09 and higher.
“This police unit has the potential to be manipulated to falsely convict innocent people, which is why you should never, ever take a breath test if you are over 21,” Mr. Genis says in the video. “Alison Woolery was extremely smart to ask for a blood test,” he adds. “The problem was, she had no idea what she was about to encounter when she got pulled over by Kasi Beutel.”
Proof that the unit can be manipulated to enhance BAC levels doesn’t just come from a defense attorney like Darryl Genis. John Yount, a 29-year veteran criminalist with the California Department of Justice, testified under oath in a Sonoma County Superior Court trial in December 2009 that he had boosted BAC levels by manipulating a 7410 Plus.
After first agreeing that “blocking the exit port of the instrument can affect the readings of the subject’s breath alcohol concentration,” Mr. Yount went on to describe how he personally tested a 7410 Plus; measuring alcohol concentrations before and after blocking the exit port. Starting with a BAC of .07, which is below the legal limit in California, Mr. Yount testified that “by various techniques of blocking, I was able to get as high as .09.”
“And that’s just enough for a cop like Kasi Beutel, with a motive to enhance her arrest stats, to push innocent drivers over the line,” says Mr. Genis, “effectively framing them.”
Officer Beutel’s account of the arrest
A detailed analysis of the police report in Alison Woolery’s case as well as a handwritten account of the events she made shortly after the arrest illustrate how Officer Beutel was willing to put Alison Woolery in handcuffs and take her to a second location, where Officer Corbett was present, in order to get a second breath test with a BAC level that would make the DUI conviction more certain.
“On 3/13/09 at approximately 0133 hours I was on uniformed patrol driving a marked black and white patrol vehicle Northbound in the 600 block of Chapala Street. I observed a Silver Jetta VW northbound in the same block. The vehicle was in the right most lane. I was driving behind the vehicle and noted that the vehicle was weaving within its lane for several blocks. . . I conducted a traffic stop immediately.
“Woolery had one passenger in the vehicle. I could smell an odor of alcoholic intoxicant coming from her person. Woolery stated she had one beer earlier in the evening. I did a cursory check for nystagmus which was present. I had Woolery step out of the vehicle and onto the sidewalk. . .I asked Woolery if she would voluntarily provide a (preliminary alcohol screening) sample. Woolery refused. I asked why she did not want to provide a sample; she stated she had a right to refuse, so she was going to.”
Later in the report Officer Beutel admitted that, “Woolery chose to take a blood test.” But before that point in time, Officer Beutel asked her if she would take a PAS test. “I told her that it would not affect my decision at this time. She voluntarily consented to a PAS test and at 0146 hours on PAS # 010717. . .her BAC was .142.”
“It’s significant,” says the lawyer Mr. Genis, “that in this PAS screening, the breath testing device Beutel used was an Alco-Sensor IV, manufactured by a company called Intoximeters Inc. This device is much harder to manipulate than the Alcotest 7410 Plus.”
And according to Ms. Woolery, the BAC of .142 wasn’t the first reading Officer Beutel got from her. In an interview for this piece, Ms. Woolery insisted that her first blow on the Alco-Sensor produced a BAC of .09.
At that point, says Ms. Woolery, Officer Beutel demanded that she blow again. “She kept yelling at me, ‘Blow harder, blow harder, blow harder! Only after the second blow did I hear her tell another male officer who had arrived at the scene that the result was a .142.”
Blowing harder produces higher BAC levels
In interviews with a half dozen people Kasi Beutel arrested on suspicion of DUI, they each described a similar pattern. During breath tests administered by Officer Beutel, as they blew, she yelled at them with the identical words, “Blow harder, blow harder!”
“That’s significant,” says Dr. Michael P. Hlastala, professor emeritus of Physiology and Biophysics and of Medicine at the University of Washington, who has written extensively on the validity of breath-test results.
“As a potential DUI arrestee blows into the device, the longer and harder they blow will increase the BAC content by up to 40 percent depending on how long and how hard the police officer admonishes them to blow. An officer experienced in this area can easily elevate a BAC of .07 to a .11 by demanding that the subject blow harder.”
But while Officer Beutel got a reading of .142 from Alison Woolery, nearly twice the legal limit, she had a problem: The first reading was a .09 and by California law, to be admissible against a defendant, breath-test readings must be within .02 of each other.
“So in this instance, after the initial PAS screening,” says defense attorney Mr. Genis, “if Officer Beutel wanted to ensure a conviction for this young woman, she’d have to convince her to blow again on a different machine.”
What happened next during the stop of Ms. Woolery was memorialized in a statement she wrote by hand the next day: “(Beutel) informed me that she was detaining me for driving under the influence but was not arresting me. She then handcuffed me and put me in the back of her car. I said, ‘I thought you said you weren’t arresting me,’ She replied, ‘When did I say that?’ As she began driving, I asked where we were going. She told me we were going to the sobering center where I would get a blood test.”
But instead of turning right on Carrillo Street from Chapala and taking Ms. Woolery to the center which is located in the New Faulding Hotel on Haley Street, Officer Beutel took a left at Carrillo and headed onto Highway 101 northbound. She got off at Las Positas Road and ended up in the parking lot opposite Gelson’s.
By Ms. Woolery’s account “there were three or more police cars surrounding a truck. (Beutel) got out and rolled down the windows in the car and told me I could wait 45 minutes to an hour or call a ride. I asked what happens after the 45 minutes and she answered that she would have to take me to sober up.”
‘She coerced me’ into second set of breath tests
At this point, Ms. Woolery told me in an interview, “It was after 2 in the morning and I was exhausted. I’d been locked in the back of her patrol car for I don’t know how long. So when she informed me of another ‘option,’ as she put it, I agreed. The option was that if I took a second set of breath tests and blew into a different machine she would release me and let somebody pick me up to go home. At that point, short of jail, a blood test wasn’t on the table, so I went along. But there’s no doubt in my mind that she coerced me into taking this second set of tests.”
According to the police report, this time when Officer Beutel had Ms. Woolery blow into an Alcotest 7410 Plus, the readings were .14 and .13. At that point a male police officer finished Ms. Woolery’s paperwork and she was released. Four months later, unable to afford an attorney and with no blood sample that could be tested again, it was her word against Officer Kasi Beutel and the Alcotest 7410 Plus.
“And here’s what’s so troubling,” says Darryl Genis. “The printout from that first PAS test that failed would have been exculpatory and helpful to Alison’s defense, but it was missing from her police file. Another example, like the missing minutes from the audio recording in the case of Michael Kenny, of how evidence seems to disappear.” (For Mr. Kenny’s story, see Part Two of this series in Thursday’s News-Press.)
Eventually, Ms. Woolery’s court-appointed lawyer let her plead guilty to a full DUI. She had to pay more than $3,200 in fines and costs, but she ended up paying an even bigger price.
Losing her dream of nursing school
“When I was 8,” says Ms. Woolery, “my closest friend was killed by a woman who was driving under the influence of prescription drugs. This left a mark on me for life and as a result, I have always been incredibly careful before getting behind the wheel if I’ve had a drink. At the time of my friend’s death, I got a lot of comfort from a hospice, so when I applied to nursing school at Cal State and they required 100 hours of community service, rather than working at a hospital, I decided to work with those near the end of life. It was an intense six-week training program and at the end of it they did a background check. At that point, the DUI was on my record, although I hadn’t been convicted of it yet. But they denied my volunteering work and that ended my goal of being a nurse.”
Was she guilty?
The question is, when Kasi Beutel pulled Alison Woolery over on the night of March 13, 2009, was Ms. Woolery actually under the influence or was she framed? The only way she would have an independent measure of the true alcohol content in her blood would have been by taking the blood test. And when she finally got a chance to examine her police file, she was shocked to find a document stating that she had waived the blood test. It bore a signature resembling her own, but she was sure it wasn’t genuine.
“I was so intent on getting a blood test that night, I would never have waived that option,” Ms. Woolery said. The document known as a “Trombetta advisement” or waiver, is required by law to be presented to every DUI suspect who submits to a breath test, so that they can affirmatively waive their right to a more accurate re-testable blood or urine sample.
“It’s named for an historic appellate case,” says Mr. Genis. That case, People vs. Trombetta, resulted from a DUI arrestee who had blown into an old Intoxalyzer device in the early 1980s — “another breath device, like the Alcotest 7410 Plus, that was also subject to manipulation,” says Mr. Genis.
“So in order to protect the rights of suspects in these cases, which always come down to the cops’ word against yours, a Trombetta advisement or signed waiver is mandatory.”
In Ms. Woolery’s case, the purported waiver was witnessed by Officer Mark Corbett, the man who would later become Kasi Beutel’s fiancè.
Evidence of three forged waivers
As part of this investigation, I ran a newspaper ad with a picture of Officer Kasi Beutel and a request for information from any of her arrestees who might have found misstatements of fact in their police reports regarding the DUI “stop, breath, blood test or arrest.”
I ran the ad because after looking at the blood waiver in my own police report, I was certain that I hadn’t signed it. Yet my so-called “signature” was witnessed by Officer Beutel.
A number of Officer Beutel’s arrestees responded to the ad, including Ms. Woolery and a 19-year-old City College student arrested in another Chapala Street stop, this one, early on the morning of New Year’s Eve 2009.
This young man, whom I’ll call “Jack Smith,” told me that Officer Beutel had outright lied about her probable cause for his stop. “She pulled me over at the corner of Chapala and Haley,” he said. “I had stopped because two people were crossing the street. First she told me that I hadn’t stopped at the stop sign, but when the two witnesses in my car pointed to the pedestrians, she changed her story and said that I’d failed to use my blinker, which was also a lie.”
After subjecting “Jack Smith” to a field sobriety test and inducing him to take a breath test, never mentioning the option of allowing him to draw blood, Officer Beutel allegedly had him blow twice, also yelling that he should “Blow harder,” as she held the Alcotest 7410 Plus.
Officer Beutel had used the identical protocol in my case when she arrested me early on the morning of New Year’s Day 2011. She never even hinted that a blood test was an option and after threatening to take me to jail, told me that if I blew, she’d release me to the same sobering center she had offered as an “option” for Alison Woolery.
According to a printout from the Alcotest 7410 Plus, my breath results showed a BAC of .09 and .09, a hundredth of a percent above the .08 legal limit.
Police reports with evidence of three forged waivers
The Trombetta waiver, which I didn’t sign, was “witnessed” by Officer Beutel, who also witnessed the waiver that showed up in “Jack Smith’s” file; a document he, too, insists was forged.
On May 24, I retained James Blanco a handwriting expert who formerly worked for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department detective division, the U.S. Treasury Department and the California Department of Justice. He’s the exclusive forensic document expert used by the California Secretary of State’s Office in voting fraud cases.
Mr. Blanco asked me to send him copies of the Notice to Appear in each of the three cases — documents that Ms. Woolery, “Jack Smith” and I not only signed, but that also contained our thumb prints. He also asked for the Trombetta waivers and at least four specimens each of our “known signatures” from independent sources, such as checks or receipts.
On May 31, he submitted a declaration, sworn under penalty of perjury, in which he concluded that the Trombetta waivers witnessed by Officer Beutel (mine and “Jack Smith’s”) and the waiver witnessed by Officer Beutel’s husband-to-be Mark Corbett, had been forged.
“Forensic handwriting examinations revealed that the handwriting features observed on the ‘Peter Lance’ signature were not consistent with, nor did they represent the natural, normal nor genuine handwriting characteristics of Peter Lance as demonstrated by his known specimen signature samples,” wrote Mr. Blanco in the declaration. “Neither were the signature samples of Alison Woolery (or) ‘Jack Smith.’ The (Trombetta waiver) signatures were ‘simulations’ where the forger attempted to reproduce the pictorial likeness of true signatures by Lance, Woolery and (‘Jack Smith’).”
“Beyond a reasonable doubt,” says Mr. Blanco, “I concluded that the signatures on those blood-test waivers were forgeries.”
At this point Mr. Blanco wasn’t asked to determine who did the forgeries. He can’t say for sure who executed them in Woolery case. But with my waiver and that of “Jack Smith,” Officer Beutel signed and dated a box next to the signatures that said “Witnessed (Arresting Officer).”
“The prospect that Officer Kasi Beutel,” says defense attorney Mr. Genis, “or Mark Corbett, who preceded her on the Drinking Driver Team, witnessed forged documents that were inserted into police reports, raises chilling questions about how far officers of the SBPD are willing to go in order to build airtight DUI convictions. Without a blood test or a video recording of the event, an arrestee is at a severe disadvantage and if an officer is willing to lie, the suspect is at the mercy of the D.A.’s office and the judge. Their only hope is to convince a jury, which is terribly difficult when it’s their word versus a decorated, uniformed officer on the stand.”
At a hearing before Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Judge Brian Hill on May 31, we entered James Blanco’s sworn declaration into evidence in the People vs. Peter Lance. A hearing was set for July 26 in which Mr. Blanco will conduct a further examination in open court along with a handwriting expert provided by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.
As reported in Part Two of this series on Thursday, Santa Barbara fisherman Michael Kenny was shot with a stun gun by Officer Beutel after a routine traffic stop, only to insist on a blood test, which proved he had a BAC of .07, which is below the legal limit.
“His case underscores the importance,” says defense attorney Mr. Genis, “of an officer making all DUI suspects fully aware of their right to a blood test versus a breath test where the results can be manipulated.”
On June 6, I submitted a series of questions to Officer Kasi Beutel regarding her conduct, not just in my case, but that of Alison Woolery, “Jack Smith” and Michael Kenny. As of press time, she had not responded.
But on Wednesday, Police Chief Cam Sanchez issued a statement in support of Officer Beutel, citing the many “built-in safeguards to ensure that her every arrest was fair, unbiased, and met strict judicial review.”
As to the accuracy of the Alcotest 7410 Plus breathalyzer, Dean Warden, senior criminalist with the California Department of Justice lab in Goleta, confirmed for me last week that all of the 7410 units in the Santa Barbara Police Department are about to be replaced with the 7510, a new breath testing device from Drager, manufacturer of the 7410.
“These units are 9 years old,” he says, “and they’re starting to show their age. Their batteries are failing. It has nothing to do with accuracy.”
In Part Four of this series to run Saturday, we’ll examine a series of statements made in federal and state court civil proceedings from 2000 to 2005 that appear to demonstrate a willingness to commit perjury.
Part four in this series goes after occifer Beutal and her finance shenanigans and drives home the point of credibility. Part five speaks of the need to have police vido of DUI interactions.
As these two reports are lengthy I will just post the link to the whole series........http://peterlance.com/wordpress/?cat=47
She picked the wrong person to try and falsely convict this time around. How many others across AmeriKa are railroaded in the same way?
Bravo for posting that, what a read.
wow...she and her former husband are astronomically corrupted individuals: http://peterlance.com/wordpress/?p=1239
Originally Posted by phill4paul
And.............The bitch still has her lips firmly attached to the tax-payer tit!
People like this have homes and usually families. NO, Peaceniks and Jackboots, I do not even begin to even remotely kinda-sorta insinuate violence against either people or property.
But I DO not only suggest, I insist...I KNOW, like I know 2 + 2 = 4...that American Oppressed will NOT "find themselves" treated any better until the people who are ABUSING POWER to treat them shabbily are AFRAID/UNWILLING to continue doing so.
Unapologetic police & politicians would sing a different tune if their spouses & kids were shamed and shunned in public. Get back to me about leaving Rulers' families off the table when Rulers leave families of the RULED off the table.
Perhaps Rand of the SHORTER-sentences-for-Pot-Smokers will deign to introduce a "Police Brutality Relief Valve" bill to bookend his "Justice Safety Valve Act"?
No charges against cops who killed Down's syndrome man.