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Police Officer Tases Himself, Man Charged with Attempted Murder

Early in the morning of March 14, 2010, Mr. Justin Bentley was arrested in the small Northern California town of Orland. There are a number of curious, and downright suspicious, factors involving his arrest and the incidents that led to it.

Depending on which police account you favor, Mr. Bentley was stopped while driving his car…or he was stopped while walking. You would think it would be hard to confuse the two. In any event, Mr. Bentley was detained about 11:20pm by Officer Kyle Cessna (who suffers from vertigo, and is, despite this condition, allowed to continue on the Orland police force, but we’ll get to that later).

During the course of this stop, allegedly, some sort of physical altercation between Mr. Bentley and Officer Cessna began. The details also – you guessed it – depend which version of the story you believe the officer is telling, and the prosecution is arguing. There are substantial inconsistencies all throughout the various “official” versions of this story. The detail that first drew our attention in this case was that Mr. Bentley was Tased multiple times in his face. This is an incredibly dangerous and unnecessary thing to do to somebody, and it is disturbing that police officers would use Tasers in this way, which is purely punitive and sadistic.

One aspect of this stop that highly suspicious, and indeed, disturbing, is that Officer Cessna DID NOT notify dispatch that he was engaging in a stop. The first radio message from Officer Cessna was an officer emergency call. Firstly, police officers, as a matter of policy, always radio in their location, and situation, when they stop somebody. The idea behind this is that if something goes the wrong way for the officer making the stop, other officers know what’s going on, and where to show up. This holds even truer at night. Secondly, if he thought Mr. Bentley was a serious threat, as he stated, why did he not make a radio call then, instead of after Mr. Bentley allegedly tried to kill him?

So, why did Officer Cessna not radio in that he was making contact with Mr. Bentley? Allegedly there was a stop, then a fight, and Officer Cessna does not tell anybody anything until he was, allegedly, on the ground, injured, with someone who he says tried to kill him was running away?

The certain explanation for this is that this stop was retaliatory, and this is our hypothesis. Prior to this event, police had twice targeted Mr. Bentley. On one occasion, he had been mistakenly identified as a shoplifter. He went to the police station to help clear the matter up, and while at the police station, accidentally spilled water on a desk, wetting papers. Although he was cleared of the shoplifting suspicion, he was charged with attempting to destroy evidence. When he went before a judge, the charge was not only dismissed, but the judge dressed-down the prosecution for bringing such a case.

Following this wet-papers incident, he was stopped in his vehicle by a police officer, who, although Mr. Bentley had his registration, cited him for not having his registration. After this incident, Mr. Bentley attempted to file a complaint at the police department. He was prevented from filing a complaint. This was three days before he was arrested.

So, following all of this police mayhem (remember, they like to call themselves “law-enforcement”), Mr. Bentley is now in jail, awaiting trial on several charges. Initially charged with attempted murder upon a peace officer – among other things – he is now charged with premeditated murder. Officer Cessna states that Mr. Bentley grabbed his gun, and Taser. Okay, except that Mr. Bentley’s fingerprints aren’t on either of these. It is clear that Mr. Bentley did not touch either the gun or Taser.

In piecing together the various, and conflicting, stories, the situation becomes even more problematic. Officer Cessna states that he fired his Taser at Mr. Bentley, but it didn’t work. Okay, but why was Officer Cessna’s Taser wire, according to one officer’s statement, “…wrapped up in his gear.” How does Officer Cessna get Taser wire in his equipment if he was firing away from himself?

Remember Officer Cessna’s vertigo? Vertigo is a medical condition where one becomes dizzy, can become disoriented, and can feel like they, or the world, is spinning. Is it possible that Officer Cessna was going to unlawfully harass Mr. Bentley, started a physical altercation with him, became disoriented, and instead of Tasing Mr. Bentley, Tazed himself? Did his head start spinning, and he started shooting his gun while laying in the street post-self-Tasing? Did he have to concoct a completely incomprehensible story – several times, with substantially different details – to cover the fact that he is a bad cop, ethically, and practically?

His handgun was fired three times. Two bullets haven’t been recovered, and one of them was fired through a house window, through a kitchen doorway, ending up in a wall above a sink. According to a forensic report, the handgun was less than a foot off the ground when the bullet was fired.

What do we have? It looks like a police officer retaliating against a citizen who has on two previous occasions acted to lawfully protect his rights. Officer ends up Tasing himself, firing a gun through somebody’s window, and two others who knows where. Mr. Bentley ends up with Taser burns all over his face, and is now fighting very serious, and baseless charges, that may cost him decades in prison.

Berkeley Copwatch

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