Criminal charges dropped against former Anchorage police officer accused of assaulting cyclist
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Federal and state prosecutors have dropped all criminal charges against a former Anchorage police officer accused of assaulting a cyclist in a 2019 incident.
Anchorage Police Department officer Cornelius Aaron Pettus will have all charges dropped in exchange for a promise that Pettus will not seek employment in any U.S. state or territory as a law enforcement officer.
Pettus was indicted on two counts of tampering with public records and one count of interfering with Constitutional rights.
The charges stem from a Sept. 30, 2019 incident when Pettus approached Samuel Allen for a bicycle violation as Allen was not wearing reflective clothing and there was no light on the bike. Allen was “uncooperative and left the scene,” according to police.
Allen could be seen in a video he shared to an account where he would regularly post videos of his encounters with police officers making obscene gestures and yelling profanities.
Later, Pettus and officer Deorman Stout, who were on patrol together, attempted to drop off a citation against Allen at his home.
The incident turned physical and Pettus was accused of assaulting and injuring Allen, which was all captured by a police dash camera.
Allen’s attorney, Jeff Barber, said when his client received the news of the dropped charges, he called Barber with an emotional plea.
“He was frustrated and upset, which he’s stated before about the fact that there’s this plea agreement where the officer’s charges were dismissed,” Barber said. “He is not happy at all about that.”
According to Barber, Allen wants people to understand that the incident was more than just a minor scuffle.
“He doesn’t really feel like enough consideration was given to the fact that he not only went to jail, but was pepper sprayed, he was taken down to the ground — he was basically handcuffed, taken to jail, and wasn’t immediately fingerprinted and arrested,” Barber said.
Barber says Allen had a particularly hard time in jail, where he spent multiple days.
When Pettus was initially indicted for his role in the incident, he said that he was mired in an episode of severe depression. He said that being a police officer was his identity.
Pettus said he’s the type of person, if he’s at fault, to own up to his mistakes.
“Obviously I’m glad that I don’t have to deal with that anymore, and that the charges were dismissed with prejudice, meaning that they can’t retry me with those cases,” Pettus said. “But we should have never been here in the first place.”
Pettus believes that this might have just been an incident where the Anchorage Police Department was trying to get rid of a police officer that they weren’t fond of and to show the community that they can police themselves, going as far as labeling the department as a “good ol’ boys club,” a term he had heard from others before joining.
“This was due to poor leadership, leadership that was afraid to do what needed to be done, and personal biases,” Pettus said. “I also believe that it came out at a time where there was immense political pressure for police departments across the country to show that they can police their own.”
Allen and his attorney claim they have still never been able to get the video from any of the parties involved in the case.
“To be going this long, to not even see the video and the evidence that everyone else — the police have already seen, officer Pettus has seen it, he’s given it to his expert, he’s prepared a case defending himself in the criminal cases — and to never provide it access to the victim is just shameful,” Barber said. “It’s just been a really hard process for us to go through and it’s been frustrating for us.”
The Anchorage Police Department Employees Association, which has stood behind Pettus and Stout, has said that while they are not perfect, “neither are felons.”
Pettus is still facing a civil suit related to the incident.
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