Homeless Woman Says Deputy Used Excessive Force

ALTOONA, Iowa — A homeless, handicapped woman says she was attacked by a Polk County Sheriff’s deputy, simply because she is homeless.

For eight months, Diane Smith says she has been panhandling near the Highway 65 off ramp on Hubbell Avenue without any problems. That is until recently, when the 50-year-old says she was attacked by a Polk County Deputy, who she says also choked her service dog.

Smith says Deputy Adam Rodgers called her to his patrol car. She says she offered her state issued weapons permit to Deputy Rodgers as identification. That’s when she says the deputy told her he felt threatened, so she walked away. “Next thing you know I’m in trouble and arrested he thinks I’m threatening him and I’m being thrown down on the ground and he hangs my service dog clear up in the air,” Smith says, “I don’t know what was in his mind. You know? I don’t know. he just…he hung her up and she wasn’t biting him, you know? “

Smith is charged with Interference With Official Acts. According to online records, this is her first serious arrest. A sheriff’s department spokeswoman is refusing to turn over police car dash-cam video of the incident, even though she acknowledges it is public information. She says she has to get permission from the Polk County Attorney first, even though there is no law or policy requiring her to do so.

75 comments

    • spartanspore

      This woman is running a scam for crying out loud can’t you see that? Any person who would give money to people doing this at the roadside is a fool! That is not true charity, it just gives unthinking people a mindless warm and fuzzy.

      • Troy Hendrickson

        That’s funny, I was just reading some things Jesus said about charity, and the poor and sick, I think he would disagree with you.

        On the other hand, because of people like you, when I do encounter someone at a stop sign by the road, I make a point to empty my change out and give it to them, and talk to them a bit, while the idiots behind me honk there horns. Always get a kick out of this “christian” nation.

      • Sue

        You’re a jerk. some of these ‘poor homeless beggars’ that you see standing at the side of the road arrived in a nicer car then my husband or I drive. There have been too many times that they have proven that this people are making more money that those of us with an education and a job. My money goes only to confirmed charities. I will gladly donate money to the homeless shelter to help these people get the things they need. I will not give cash to someone along the street to buy cigarettes or alcohol.

      • harrisbock

        “…. I will not give cash to someone along the street to buy cigarettes or alcohol…”—How do you know for a fact that is what they will do. For those with alcohol addiction, that is a medical problem and is classified as a legal disability. Someone addicted and dependent on alcohol can suffer through the same detox effects as a hard drug user. The addicted will steal to avoid the sickness. The handouts may be what keeps them from crime. I should know, as I am an alcoholic. I just talked to a counselor for admission into an inpatient facility. I was told I will get to a point where my body will enter detox, have adverse/possibly fatal reactions, and I will spend that stage in the emergency room for monitoring. Almost makes me want to keep drinking to avoid that…And the option for cheap or free treatment is not available to the homeless, unless they are a veteran and that has a waiting list if they still have papers showing they are a veteran. A lot of homeless are veterans, usually Vietnam due to society treating them like garbage. Many new ones are coming from the current wars. The #1 cause of homelessness is lack of a job caused by mental and/or substance abuse issues, and contrary to people thinking they can clean up their own act on their own…You are seriously mistaken. Very few homeless want to be or enjoy it. They are trapped. They were discarded by society, as shown in many comments here. My area closed it mental treatment facility due to budget cuts. The people were put on the streets with no other options but to live that way, or enter the prison system where there is very little money or effort for treatment…only warehousing people. It is very difficult for someone to get a job with no address, phone, good references…And some places if you meet the qualification to get the job, but have bad credit, you don’t get it. You can’t fix bad credit without a job.
        Yes, some do not want help, but many do but can not get it. Until one has worn anothers shoes and walked a few miles in them, you should not be quick to judge because others are judging you behind your back every day.

    • James

      boy were you wrong better recant your statement like 13 did. and why was a mentally ill person issueda ccw??

      • Jim

        Wow, I missed the newscast where WHO 13 recanted their statements. I only saw the ones that they tried to justify their faulty news reports. Hope I can catch their apology online. Did they slap the hands of Erin and Aaron for their over zealous reporting. Kevin, tell the gang I’m coming back.

    • harrisbock

      They always do when it shows an official was wrong. Or the camera was “not functioning” at the time. That is why officials hate citizens with their own cameras, they don’t have control of the content. You should see how upset some get when a driver has their own LEGAL dash cam. I have one because I want to document any accident I may be in or witness, and as a first responder, it documents what I see when I assist at an accident.

    • Brian

      absolutely it does, Lets see the video and put the officer in front of the news stations to get the other side of the story. that will go a long way to determing what realy happened. Then as an employer I can make my own decision, we are not talking legal guilt for the officer we are talking misconduct, he is a public employee and we the public can make a decision on his conduct without a court of law

  • POET

    I agree M that this is a publicity stunt, as you can clearly tell she was upset that she was even being questioned, resisted to cooperate, then ran, which gave probable cause for suspicion to the officer, which lead to the interfering and eluding or whatever charge officially documented. Who know’s if she had a weapon when walking away and was prompted to shot the officer or something. Also, I’m not saying she was overdressed or nothing, but to the standards of actually being homeless, she is in some mighty fine attire.

    • harrisbock

      Unless a person is driving that requires a drivers license, or is being arrested on the spot, there is no legal responsibility for a person to have any ID or show it. Police can not legally just ask people standing or walking. They always do, but there is no legal license to sit, stand, or walk. Unless being arrested or LEGALLY detained for probable cause, you can legally refuse to show ID, ask if being arrested, detained, or if are free to go. If told free to go, quietly walk away. If told you can not leave, your detained and you should politely remain silent, follow instructions, and only speak to a lawyer.
      No one is required to “carry their papers” or be told to “show your papers” unless being arrested or detained with probable cause.

  • wizard

    Poet, “standards of actually being homeless”? What an ignorant statement. Homeless can also mean staying in someone else’s home. Do you really think all homeless people are dirty and wear rags?

  • jeri cooper

    diane has a lot of mental issues. she has never been the same since her mother died and she got divorced. i feel really sorry for her and hope her circumstances improve.

    • Peter Gatliff

      This is another fine example of Ronnie Reagan legacy. The very first program to be cut to the people to build up our military was deep cuts to mental health and SSI for mental health patients. Since Reagan the homeless living on the streets jumped ten fold as well as the crime rate. In reality our for profit prison’s is nothing more than holding cell’s for the mentally ill.

  • Josh Bethune

    Sociopath pig. Hope he’s fired. Thug behind the badge at it again. They gotta alter that tape first before turning it over. I wonder if he does this to his wife and kids?

    • Jim

      Josh, you’re an idiot. Sounds like you have your own mental issues. WHO 13 news edited the tapes for their news cast to stir up the public. Watch all 45 minutes of the dashcam video to see the truth.

  • Holly Johnson

    With all the uproar with police brutality I believe there need to be some extreme changes in the qualifications to become a police officer. A 4 year degree for starters needs to be required. For those that are already in place, schooling should be added to their weekly hours. I know this may be expensive but I can’t think of a better way to improve the minds of officers that are suppose to protect and serve. Heck, you now have to have a 4 year degree for a lot of jobs anymore. I truely believe that ignorance is major problem. If you had to work hatder to achieve becoming a police officer and were smarter in doing so, maybe one would take less chances in losing the job they went to collage for. Of corse we would need to raise their wages with this requirement but I think it would be the best money ever spent!!!!!

    • harrisbock

      Have you seen the militarized police of today? I used to be a Military Police officer, and they have more equipment than I was allowed to carry in garrison (One a state side base). A lot of current LEO training teaches that everyone is a threat until proven otherwise. Any questioning, hesitation, or indication by the person he/she has rights and knowledge of them by a person is seen as a hostile act. Then there are those LEOs with good training but end up in bad departments and become changed to fit in. If you send an honest state politician (there are some) to Washington DC, two things usually happen. The politician becomes corrupt to fit in and keep his/her career, or the person leaves politics because they don’t want to become corrupt.

    • Kamandak

      what a bunch of elitist BS. If you don’t have a 4 year degree you haven’t worked hard and you are not smart? I also believe (despite your position) that no one wants to lose their job whether they ‘worked for it’ (which to you only means a 4 year degree) or not. You are right though, most jobs do now require a 4 year degree – but have you noticed an improvement in productivity or efficiency? NO. The only ones benefiting from that shift are higher education institutions, holders of student debt and you along with the rest of your elitist ilk.

      • Troy Hendrickson

        I once read an article by the then editor of EEE magazine, decrying all the wasted time and money he had been forced to spend on college credits that did nothing to further his career. Our community colleges are even worse, they’ve become corporate training programs, only potential employees for a welding job end up having to go into debt to pay for all sorts of liberal arts nonsense, in addition to any actual skills training. Half the crap degree from community colleges simply replace on the job training companies learned they no longer have to pay for themselves.

  • Terry Johnson

    why not just require a camera on every officer and if he did hang the dog up by his neck, he should be dually charged and rigorously prosecuted and when sentenced should not be segregated from general population. To not release public information is actually a crime in Iowa. I wander if Tommy Miller will prosecute the sheriff or use ignorance of the law to shirk his duties

    • harrisbock

      The departments have ownership and control of what the camera and microphones record. If you wear a visible body camera or can be seen recording the officers, or if you tell them you are, they will try and tell you that is illegal and threaten with arrest. If they arrest you for interference by disobeying a legal order to turn off the camera and hand it over, they gain control of it when it is removed from you as part of the arrest. If your dash camera captures audio and records officers conversations while you are not present in the vehicle, in most states that violates wire tapping and privacy laws. Home owners have been charged for that for having video/audio security in their homes that captured two or more officers talking when the owner was not in the conversation and the officers not knowing their audio was being recorded. It is illegal for business to have audio recording on their security cameras because it can capture conversations of people that the property owner was not involved in. In Iowa, as long as one person involved knows there is audio recording, it is legal.

    • Jim

      Suzanne, this woman probably makes more $$ a day than you do. Think about the number of vehicles that pass by each day and hand her one dollar. It pays to pray on the sympathetic public.

      • harrisbock

        That is the condition of the economy and the country. When people can get enough in government handouts to basically live, why work? If a person can bring in more per hour standing on a street with a sign, why work? But if it ever comes to where people will not give to those truly in need…I don’t think I want to live in that world, because with the current economy, it could be me.

      • Suzanne

        I gave a dog some bones. It made me feel good. I like to think I have paid it forward. I do want to think any different. Who knows . It made me know the dog had something.

  • Karen

    I wish news didn’t get posted until they have both sides of the story, but I guess it wouldn’t be entertaining news.

    • Brian

      I agree completely buts the cops side is to withhold information and stonewall. The city / county attorneys advise to say nothing so unless the cops become more forthcoming this is all we get. How bout they start by letting us see the dash cam. they after all are our employees

  • Erik

    Karen, they tried to get the other side of the story. Polk County Sheriff’s Department denied a Freedom of Information Act request. Don’t let that get in the way of your narrative, though.

    • Al

      The video clearly shows he never even came close to touching the dog. Don’t let that get in the way of your narrative though. This woman is part of an organized gang of beggars who make a lot of money. The story about the dog was made up by her “handler” who was watching from a car parked a block away. The sheriff has received multiple complaints about this woman for panhandling coupled with her deteriorating mental condition. This is the 3rd time the same officer has dealt with her in a week. The woman should be charged with a false complaint under the peace officers bill of rights since the unedited video shows clearly that nothing happened outside of a normal arrest of a crazy screaming woman. You cannot just walk away from an officer after breaking the law. This is irresponsible reporting. Ask yourself why a “newsman” would take the words of a person who is obviously suffering a mental condition and print it as fact? The problem is Aaron Brilbeck seems to enjoy printing stories about cops which show them in a bad light, based only on one side of an unproven allegation.

  • Sue

    you don’t have to have a permanent address to get a permit to carry? I’m not saying that is a good thing or a bad thing, I am just surprised.

    • harrisbock

      No address is permanent, sometimes they do change. If she met all state and federal requirements to have a permit, she should be allowed it. In 1987, I an Iowa resident with a CWP permit from the days they were hard to get, I was granted a South Dakota license to carry when in college. Even though my address was the college dorms, that did not allow firearms on premises, as long as not in my dorm room on carried on college property, I was good. It was in a small safe bolted in my vehicle trunk. Campus security knew, and they had an open invitation to check my room on request for it, any they never did. I also was in the national guard, the campus security could not carry, and I think they looked at me as a fall back option if something were to happen. My collage address was not permanent as all students eventually move.

  • loneranger

    Some people should serriously think before talking especially ones that gave up there kid due to drugs and being a whore in osky. Right Jerry cooper?

    • linnivy

      Wow! I don’t know anyone on here or involved with this story but you might wanna be careful what you say about others. Might be legal issues?

    • jeri cooper

      the comment i made about diane was not bad, i really do feel sorry for her. she is my ex-sister in-law. i dont know who you are, or why you would say what you did, but obviously you dont know me as well as you think you do as nothing you said applies to me. i dont hide behind made up names either. if you are going to slander someone than use your real name and get your facts straight.

    • harrisbock

      Define mental issues? EVERYONE has mental issues of one type or another. Everyone gets depressed or upset from time to time. Currently, only if a person is INVOLUNTARILY committed for mental treatment would that effect firearms ownership, or domestic violence charges. If a person willingly enters a mental treatment facility on their own accord and exits without reason to involuntarily force them to remain, their firearms rights remain intact. Just because one does not like another does not mean they lose their rights to firearms, unless they are JUDGED to be a danger by the courts. I have many who do not like me because I am a veteran and trained in firearms. Just because I have the training and own does not mean I am going to do anything to anyone at any time. Does training for a permit make one a threat? Criminals do not train, they just do. Only the law abiding take the time and expense to stay in the grace of the law.

      • Liz Randle

        After reading your remarks, I find you may be book smart but have no clue to what is going on around you.

    • do ur job

      It has nothing to do with being liberal and everything to do with common sense. If you cant buy a firearm because you cant or shouldn’t pass a background check, you probably shouldn’t have a permit. And if you are so disabled by your condition that you cant hold a job or a home, then yes, Tonto should be carrying your gun.

      • harrisbock

        Permit renewals include background checks. If she passed, she is good. If the permit was expired, and she was not carrying a firearm in public, it is just an old paper with identification information. If she does not drive, she does not need a valid drivers license. Being homeless is one good reason to have a permit. Homeless are targets of violent crimes and sexual abuse. If one does not own their home but rents, should that disqualify them from owning a weapon and a permit? Active duty military do not have permanent addresses, and move every year or so. They disqualified? What about people who live in RVs? They move around, and with the proper training course, one can get NON-RESIDENT carry permit combos that cover almost all states in the USA. I can’t carry in Minnesota because they don’t respect Iowa permits, but they do Utah. And with a $100 course, I can apply for a non-resident Utah permit that is accepted in Minnesota as well as Iowa. If I was a traveling person, I could easily get get non-resident permits to cover me for over 40 of the US states.

  • Central Iowa Man

    Just because someone has a “four year degree” doesn’t mean they will be better suited for law enforcement. I know Officers/Deputies that have only a high school education and prior military, yet have a lot of common sense which helps them survive the job. I have personally witnessed college graduates that didn’t have one ounce of common sense and couldn’t work through a simple task.

  • Jenny

    I agree with Central Iowa Man, a 4 year degree doesn’t make you “SMART” – I have seen a lot of educated idiots with 4 year degrees.

    • CJ

      If you watch the dash-cam video, you will see that the officer did not do anything to the dog. This woman resisted arrest after running from the officer and jerked her dog around herself because she was resisting arrest while holding its leash. The officer told her several times to let go of the leash, but she would not comply. At no time was the dog “hung up in the air”. The woman is either delusional or lying. Probably both. As for the dog’s condition, the woman’s boyfriend took the dog to their car and the dog appeared to be walking normally.

  • harrisbock

    WOW! an officer saying he feels threatened so the person retreats away showing no threat is a threat? I have a weapons permit and usually carry. When I carry, if stopped for any reason I immediately inform the officer I have a permit and where the weapon is for everyone’s safety from a misunderstanding. Does that mean I am threatening? Now I know why more and more legal people with legal permits are saying not to disclose the fact unless asked.

  • harrisbock

    I don’t know the laws now due to the instant background checks…But in Iowa at one time, you needed a buyers permit to buy or a concealed permit that counted as both. After purchasing, you did not need any permit or license to own. Only if you wanted to carry off your property. I can own, poses, and carry a firearm on my personal property without a permit/license. I can carry in the house or anywhere outside on my property. Only if I want to carry past my property lines would I need a permit. Same for a business I own. If I own a store, I can carry on the business property without a license/permit. Once one legally buys a firearm, no license/permit is required in this state to keep it…unless one had legal issues that ends to where one can not posses.

  • Lc

    Just watched the 5 videos. In my opinion she’s lacking respect for authority. These dupties face danger everyday. deputy Rogers does not know her, he doesn’t know what she is capable of doing. Why take any chance, the videos did a nice job and I commend deputy Rogers for keeping smith safe and himself. Drop charges and send her on her way.

  • Suzanne

    I did not think she was on drugs. I do not give people begging on the side of the road often. I was given a box of dog treats for my dog so I paid it forward. She was very grateful. Blessed me
    I am sometimes ashamed for other people. I wish her and her dog the best in live.

  • Jeanette

    WHO had an expert on mental illness, Teresa Bomhoff on the 1Opm news tonight. Wish WHO would show this on WHOtv.com

  • Liz Randle

    Obviously Aaron did not watch the video in its entirety before reporting this incident. I did watch it. I believe any reporter or news station who reported this before getting the facts, owes Deputy Rodgers and the Polk County Sheriffs Department a public apology. I remember a time when the news was about reporting the FACTS!

  • ervserver

    cleanest looking, best dressed homeless person I’ve ever seen. Nice dog too. I’m thinking I need to quit my job

    • harrisbock

      Not all homeless look like they crawled out of a garbage can. Being homeless does not mean every homeless person does not have some self-respect. We have a mens homeless shelter in town, and those staying there look like everyone else. The homeless who have a dog is usually for companionship and protection. The dog can scavenge and eat from garbage cans.

  • CJ

    This “story” is wrong on so many levels. Please report responsibly, Aaron Brilbeck. Instant “news” is irresponsible if it is not accurate news. You owe this officer, his department and your viewers/readers an apology. You should also probably apologize to Diane Smith for giving her this type of attention which only furthers her damaged perspective.

    • harrisbock

      CJ, I agree with you with instant news, one sided. I am old enough to know better, but sometime my passion takes over, so some of my comments are probably out of line with the full story. I accept that. I have not found or seen the dash video. Can someone tell me if it had sound? If so, if from the time the officer saying he felt threatened, to her walking away, and prior to the hands on started…did the officer ever say she was under arrest?

      • CJ

        I get it, Harrisbock. I’m feeling pretty passionate about this situation myself.

        There is sound in the video from the moment he pulls over to the moment she was brought to jail. One of the first things he says to her is that he is giving her “one more chance”. This officer had recently warned her, more than once, not to panhandle. He brought a copy of the ordinance for her so that she could see it herself and could leave of her own free will and not return. She claimed she had been at the home of the Chief of Police and he had personally given her permission to panhandle there. When the officer confronted this claim, she told him she was not going to jail “because I have already talked to Kevin Schneider and I have a permit to carry and you don’t want to accuse me of lying”. He had not asked for any type of identification from her. She refused to answer the officer’s questions about her permit to carry and told him she was leaving. He told her she could not do that because she was being detained. As she walks away anyway, he is telling her to stop and starts to follow her. She starts running. He is yelling at her to stop as he runs after her. He tells her she is under arrest before any physical contact is made and she does not comply. Once contact was made she physically resisted arrest. You can see the entire video here:

        http://whotv.com/2014/08/26/13raw-video-sheriff-deputys-dashcam-from-arrest-of-homeless-woman/

        I will add that I do NOT believe it should be required of an officer to make special concession for a person claiming PTSD or injuries when they have already lied, not cooperated with the officer’s task, repeatedly disobeyed the officer’s commands and physically resisted arrest. People lie. Often it is dangerous people lying. An officer has no way of knowing in the moment that a person’s actions may be, in full or in part, due to some type of mental illness or handicap.

      • harrisbock

        If the officer stated she was being detained, and he had the probable cause and I think he did, being detained is less than under arrest, but you can’t leave. I have to say I am on the officers side.

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