Iowa Sheriff: Local Cop should have been Charged for Attacking Man, not Hired
An Iowa state trooper was allowed to retire in 2018 after he was recorded on dashcam video attacking a motorcyclist at gunpoint during a routine traffic stop a year earlier.
The video was never made public and Robert Smith was then hired by the Durant Police Department in Cedar County, a town of 1,800 where his wife once served as mayor, according to the Washington Post.
It wasn't long before Durant residents began complaining about Smith's aggressive tactics, which had become a pattern over his 30-year career, according to Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington who has been very outspoken about the decision to hire Smith.
"You shouldn`t be allowed to work as a peace officer when you`ve been disciplined for lying but apparently he can," Sheriff Wethington told WQAD last month.
Now that the dashcam video showing Smith's attack on the motorcyclist has been made public, Wethington is still speaking his mind.
"It's absolutely wrong," Wethington told KCRG. "My opinion, Bob Smith should have been charged criminally."
Wethington is no longer accepting suspects arrested by Durant police at the Cedar County Jail because Smith is a liability. Durant police now transport them to two neighboring counties which also include parts of Durant.
Smith is the only officer in Cedar County who is on the "Giglio" list, meaning he is so untrustworthy, his testimony in court carries no merit. However, the reason he is on the Giglio file can only be viewed by a judge.
The video shows that when Smith attempted to stop Bryce Yakish on September 25, 2017, the 20-year-old man began pulling over as soon as Smith pulled up behind him with flashing lights, even before he had turned on his sirens.
Yakish came to a stop, then stepped off his bike showing no signs of aggression or any indication he was going to run away. His hands were up.
But Smith charged him with his gun drawn, shoving his hand in Yakish's face, knocking the man backwards, causing him to knock his bike over.
After handcuffing him and lifting him up to a standing position, Smith falls down, prompting an apology from Yakish, who didn't know him down.
Smith charged him with felony eluding a law enforcement officer even though the video clearly shows he was not eluding. Prosecutors reduced the charge to reckless driving and he had to pay a $250 fine.
The village of Durant released the following statement last month in response to the sheriff's criticism:
Durant officials have investigated the statements of the Cedar county Sheriff and based on the information the City has gathered from the Department of Public Safety on this matter, the City as an employer of Officer Smith did not have access to any personnel information of Officer Smith about his past employment other than he retired from the Iowa State Patrol in good standing.
The Iowa State Patrol had refused to release the video claiming it was under investigation but records show it closed its investigation in December 2017, right before Smith retired.
The video was obtained by the Cedar County Attorney's Office through a public records request made by KCRG.