DES MOINES, Iowa — A homeless disabled woman says she was roughed up by a Polk County Deputy. But his patrol car video tells the full story.
Diane Smith, who says she suffers with post traumatic stress disorder, says she was panhandling near the Hubbell Avenue exit from Highway 65 this month when the deputy slammed her to the ground and choked her service dog with a leash. But the patrol car video tells the whole story.
The 44-minute video shows Deputy Adam Rodgers first offer Smith a warning that panhandling is illegal. “I’m gonna give you one more chance,” he tells her, “I printed off the ordinance for panhandling in unincorporated Polk County, ok? I’ll give you one more chance then I’m gonna start taking you to jail.”
Smith tells the deputy she has permission from another officer to panhandle there. She then tells the officer she has a weapons permit. Deputy Rodgers takes this as a threat and tells Smith she is being detained. She runs off, and he catches up with her and struggles to bring her to the ground.
“I’m telling you to come back here,” deputy Rodgers shouts, “Ma’am you’re under arrest. Ma’am, let me see your hands. Come here now. Hey, stop resisting. Let go of your dog. Ma’am, you’re under arrest. Ma’am, stop it. Let go of the dog.”
No where in the video does it appear the deputy chokes the dog. When Smith is cuffed, she explains she only offered her weapons permit because she believed she was required to. “You told me I was threatening you. I wasn’t,” Smith says, “I told you I have a permit to carry. I have to tell you guys that.”
Deputy Rodgers later explains to someone else on the scene — he took that as a threat. “She told me she has a permit to carry, like in a threatening manner. I was taking that as’ hey I have a weapon.'”
Teresa Bomhoff with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Des Moines says, for the most part, the deputy acted appropriately. “Overall the officer tried to handle it as calmly as he could, which is important when you’re trying to work with somebody with mental illness issues.”
The only fault Bomhoff says she found is the deputy should have tried to have a conversation with Smith when he found out she has PTSD. “That indeed may have been a big reason why she ran because with PTSD you have a really strong fight or flight response. And she obviously flew away, or tried to.”
Smith is charged with Interference With Official Acts. She says she wants the charges dropped and plans to file a formal complaint with the sheriff’s department.