Bethel residents press city council on allegations of police brutality
Bethel citizens called for action from the City Council regarding allegations of police brutality at their regular meeting Tuesday evening. The city says they are investigating and officials are keeping the details under wrap as they are evidently facing litigation.
Public testimony was emotional at the Bethel City Council meeting where Agnes Gregory, the sister, of the man whom a witness says was violently arrested by a Bethel police officer spoke before the Council Tuesday evening.
“People treat their animals better then what he did to my brother. People should be outraged,” said Gregory.
A police report and court documents show that Wassillie Gregory, an “Indian” male, was arrested near the AC story on July 12 by Bethel Police Officer, Andrew Reid. A witness told police and the media, that the officer used excessive force. Bethel’s tribe, ONC, in a press release Monday urged people to come forward to them about possible mistreatment of Alaska Natives by Bethel police. Among the people who spoke was Bethel resident Fritz Charles, who also hosts a call-in show for KYUK.
“One message… I’d like to give advice to police [who] are accused of these things, there’s 10 flights a day out of Bethel. If you don’t like your job, there’s 10 flights a day out of Bethel. And up to this point, you guys are probably looking at legal issues. What now? What then? These are really tough situations, issues that the City of Bethel has to address and take action on immediately,” said Charles.
The city has opened an investigation and Interim City Manager Greg Moyer says it’s moving ahead quickly.
“And she should be wrapping up that investigation by Friday, we’re still looking for tapes, from the AC store, even though they’re doing construction, there’s a possibility, maybe a good possibility that tape is…”
City Attorney Patty Burley stopped Moyer mid-sentence, saying she had received notice that the city is facing litigation. She advised him to stop speaking on the matter. Moyer did tell KYUK that the investigation will be reviewed by a third party law enforcement group. He added the department will be putting cameras on police officers to record whenever they deal with the public.
Council member Mark Springer said the council feels as deeply about this as the rest of the community does and that the city is looking hard at the issue.