Two police officers in Shelton, Washington, were caught on their own police body cams pepper spraying, tasing and beating an unarmed homeless man who was sleeping on an outside stairwell of a local homeless shelter on May 25, 2017.
The homeless man, Nicholas Heflin, was in the process of obeying the officers’ orders of placing his hands behind his back when cops launched a violent attack on him, while yelling the familiar refrain: “Stop resisting!”
Despite the brutal assault, none of the officers were charged with a crime by the Mason County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Thurston County Sheriff’s Office investigators recommended assault charges in July after ruling that Heflin’s broken nose, eye injuries and broken bones in his face “was not necessary or reasonable,” reports The News Tribune.
The two officers, Justin Doherty and Matt Dickinson, were recently fired after an internal investigation into the incident.
Michael Dorcy, the Mason County Prosecutor, wrote a letter to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office: “The burden of proof cannot be met to sustain criminal assault charges beyond all reasonable doubt in court.”
Heflin’s attorney Jeanette Boothe says Heflin is filing a $15 million civil claim against the City of Shelton.
Boothe said Heflin was “quite emotional about the fact that [the police officers] were not going to be criminally charged.”
Boothe is considering calling for a federal criminal investigation:
We think this is an egregious assault on this young man. And he’s certainly going to have lasting results from it.
The officers’ lawyer, Alan E. Harvey, told The News Tribune that the cops maintain they “acted within the training they have received at the Shelton Police Department, and acted within policy, and that they committed no crimes.”