I was lucky enough to review both the 9-1-1 digital recordings and the police response via body-cameras as they contacted Mr. Barger and arrested him. Here are the facts as noted and which are in evidence against David in his upcoming trial this week.
9-1-1 operators get multiple calls and hang-ups from a phone booth outside of a convenience store.
9-1-1 operators call the convenience store to ask the on-duty clerk what is happening nearby. A woman named ‘Dee Dee’ responds that there is a ‘creepy old man’ in the phone booth.
Tape 104- David M. Barger finally connects to 9-1-1 and states that he is trying to connect to “non-emergent 9-1-1”. He cannot hear the operator and hangs up. It is blaringly obvious that his breathing is deep and labored.
Tape 7_104- ‘Dee Dee’ calls back to 9-1-1 to state that ‘the creepy old man is staring back at her through the window” . He has been in the store before many times.
Tape 9_IK- A cop asks for a second unit to respond to the scene.
Tape 10_IK- Units K44 and K11 respond to the scene CODE 3 (life-threatening call…responds with lights and sirens. (Why?)
Tape 15_IK-A cop states, “Start medical CODE 2 (non-threatening, yet urgent). Subject is complaining that he cannot breathe.” (Maybe that is why David called 9-1-1 “non-emergent 9-1-1” from the phone booth on a minus-eight degree night in the snow? No wonder Mr. Barger was having breathing difficulties!)
Tape 16_IK- Cop calls to state, “One male in custody. All units downgrade to CODE 4 (subject in custody=now a non-life-threatening situation).”
Along with the digital 9-1-1 recordings came three videos…the first is a dash-cam video of a cop responding with lights and sirens to the situation. The second video shows officers contacting the store clerk and hunting for Mr. Barger. The third video shows the police body-cam of Mr. Barger seated on ice with his legs crossed, trying to get his right shoe back on. His hands are cuffed behind his back; he has no hat on, and his jacket is slightly unzipped. David’s breathing is slow and deeply labored. He is not responding to questions by the officers. They ask him for ID. Again, he is not responding. He is not resisting at all. A supervising cop shows up and asks one officer what is happening? The arresting officer states, “He won’t respond to me with questions or anything. Get medical here. He is in sort of a delirium.” At this point officers comb the area and a witness tells them that David is a nearby resident and has some sort of a heart condition. The ambulance arrives and David won’t even respond to the medics asking him questions. As an officer asks him for ID, David is silent. The officer then states that he is going to start looking through David’s pockets for identification. Officers then begin to try to stand David up and he cries out in pain. David’s feeding tube is extending from his stomach. The jacket is covering the tube. One cop states to his supervisor, “I haven’t searched him for weapons yet.” As he is being walked into the ambulance in handcuffs David responds, “Can I have my property…my pen?” An officer named ‘Dewey’ is talking with a witness. David again says, “The pen, the pen, the pen.” The ambulance door shuts with David being seated on a gurney, still handcuffed.
One officer explains that David has received a “small cut on top of his head from the ice…most likely when we took him down nicely to the ground. He was refusing to talk. Both hands were in his pockets-clutching a pen-it could be a pointy stabbing thing. It is over there…still on the ground. Without medical, I will charge him with obstructing. We had to break the pen out of his hand and he wouldn’t let go…he was pulling away from us and wouldn’t let go.” The supervising officer then states, “It’ll be eighteen-below tonight. We need to make sure he gets home safe.” The video ends there.
Several items are interesting regarding this incident of ‘rescue’:
First, David was definitely in need of medical help and tried to get it for himself. This perception of David as a ‘creepy old man’ is heard in one audio from the officers’ body-cams. David’s entry into the store was refused by the clerk, because the store clerk did not want contact with him. David was most likely trying to come in where it was warm; somehow, she felt he was a threat to her! Keep in mind that the air temperature outside on the ice and snow was eight-degrees-below zero Fahrenheit!
Second, the officers did not need to respond with lights and sirens to a ‘welfare check’ of David. This was not a life-threatening emergency to the store clerk or to themselves. Their arrival and subsequent 9-1-1 request to send for an ambulance was a legitimate reason to ask for the medics to arrive on a CODE 3. I know this, because I was an ambulance medic in Seattle thirty-one years ago. The procedure is still the same in 2014.
Third, instead of tackling David from behind, the cops could have talked to him face-to-face. David would not have resisted, because despite his hearing loss, he could have seen his ‘rescuers’ instead of feeling his ‘attackers’.
Fourth, the supervising cop was correct. Once David was being helped by medics, their concern was to make sure that he made it home safely. Since they had discovered through interviewed witnesses that he was a nearby resident, they could have chosen to give him a ride home from the hospital in a warm patrol car…not charge him with resisting arrest…having written him a ticket for obstruction, in order that they could toss him in a cold jail cell where he would not freeze to death as the perceived ‘indigent, homeless old man creeping out the neighborhood’.
This was not the first time that David had been assaulted on a ‘welfare check’ by the Coeur d’Alene Police. The first incident occurred on 09/02/2011 and was due to another ‘welfare check’ by neighbors. Again, David was ‘delirious’.
When do the police have a right to turn ‘a welfare check’ into resisting arrest along with a citation? It is no wonder that David M. Barger believes that his politically active life has gotten those he has irked into using the police as a means to shut him up in any manner possible.
David’s upcoming trial begins May 15th in Coeur d’Alene’s courthouse. All calls by this author to Mr. Barger’s public defender, Ms. Amanda Montalvo, and to prosecutor, Wes Summerton, have not been returned. Hopefully, we can all show up prior to the jury trial to demand that charges be dropped.
Who is next to be ‘rescued’ by Coeur d’ Alene’s finest on a ‘welfare check’?
*Please note that the photos used in this article, as well as the transcripts from the 9-1-1 tapes and videos were provided on a DVD and then sent to this author via e-mail from Mr. David M. Barger as entered into evidence against him in his upcoming trial. Mr. Barger received this DVD per a discovery request in his court case along with his public defender. This may be copyrighted material. Republication of the photos is at the discretion of each website that they are submitted to. I do not hold copyright to them and am not responsible for their publication or other dissemination.
© 2014 Photos courtesy of Mr. David M. Barger-*received in pre-trial discovery*
© 2014 Sean T. Taeschner, M.Ed.