WATCH: Video Shows Kansas Police Officer’s Use of Force in Unlawful Arrest

Kansas – When former Topeka police officer Jeremy Carlisle-Simons made the unlawful arrest in September 2014 that would lead to his departure from the force, he threw an uncooperative subject to the ground, screamed obscenities and pounded his fist into the man’s back.

The city of Topeka would pay $50,000 for his actions, contributing to more than $400,000 in total settlements and claims related to police activity since 2010.

As the threat of a civil lawsuit influences the city’s response to the fatal police shooting in September of Dominique White, a Kansas Open Records Act request by The Topeka Capital-Journal revealed dozens of payments ranging from $300,000 for a notorious shooting involving off-duty Topeka police officers to $16 for a driver’s license taken by an officer and never returned. The police department also agreed to provide a video of the Carlisle-Simons arrest, which hasn’t been seen publicly until now.

The video shows officers responding to a 911 hangup in the 1200 block of S.W. Washburn, where they confront Arthur Morris and Jeanie Becerra in their backyard. Carlisle-Simons tells a verbally combative Morris that police received a call from neighbors about a disturbance, which wasn’t true.

As shouting intensifies between Morris and Carlisle-Simons, the officer takes Morris to the ground and attempts to handcuff him. Face down with one hand cuffed, Morris resists attempts to cuff the other.

“Give me your goddamn arm, (expletive),” Carlisle-Simons says before repeatedly punching the man’s back.

Morris was arrested and convicted of disobeying a police order, disturbing the peace, assault on a law enforcement officer and interfering with law enforcement. Becerra was arrested in connection with disobeying a police officer and interference with law enforcement.

Their convictions were vacated after body camera video showed the police account wasn’t accurate.

Six months after the incident, Morris and Becerra filed a claim with the city, alleging they were assaulted, officers lacked probable cause to make the arrests and officers lied during court testimony. The Topeka City Council approved the payment.

Across all departments, the city since 2010 has paid more than $1 million in settlements and tort and medical claims. Additionally, the city has spent about $1 million to retain outside counsel to litigate cases. Hundreds of claims were rejected, and some from this year are pending.

Records show the city has paid $332,244 for two settlements and $76,078 for 44 claims involving police.

On Friday, the city showed video of police shooting White to his father, who has been named administrator of White’s estate in court documents that also indicate he has authority to pursue evidence for a possible wrongful death case. Gillian Cassell-Stiga, the attorney for White’s family, said she asked the city to maintain all documents related to White’s death.

“It’s pretty standard in any potential case to send a notice to preserve evidence,” Cassell-Stiga said in an email.

‘Unacceptable behavior’

The Capital-Journal filed open records requests in 2015 and 2016 to view body camera video of Carlisle-Simons, but those requests were denied.

At those times, Topeka Police Department legal adviser Luther Ganieany said releasing video could interfere with an investigation under review by the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office. In response to renewed efforts by The Capital-Journal to view the video following the White shooting, District Attorney Mike Kagay, who took office in January, confirmed his predecessor declined to file charges against Carlisle-Simons, who resigned while under investigation.

“I think that one of the things that needs to be kept in mind here (is) all the people involved in this process are no longer,” said interim TPD chief Bill Cochran. “Chad Taylor was the D.A. Chad Sublet was the city attorney. (James) Brown was the chief. The officer that was in question has resigned from the agency. I think those are important things to keep in mind.”

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