By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
If there never was any gunplay, except in the imagination of cops desperate to cover up for their behavior, what exactly did happen?
Did the cops accidentally shove West out of their way, knocking him from the wheelchair in their eagerness to look for Animal? Or did they maliciously topple the defiant cripple who shoved his insistence upon a search warrant down their throats?
You don't need me to tell you how Steve West and Animal's kid brother answered that question. But let's put aside their testimony as self-serving. Consider instead what the cops did next, which was worse than what they'd already done, and you tell me if this case isn't simply a matter of viciousness.
Loud throughout the confrontation, West went off the Richter scale when the cops broke his femur. In agony, he screamed and never stopped screaming that his leg was broken.
Not so, say the police.
It wasn't until the cops had West locked in the back seat of their squad car and were on their way downtown that the prisoner mentioned his leg was bothering him.
Once in custody, an injured prisoner is supposed to be transported to a hospital, according to Bullhead City police procedures. Instead, they took West to the jail and radioed ahead for a paramedic.
Upon arrival each cop grabbed West under an armpit and carried the cripple across the parking lot with his pants down around his ankles. West's genitalia hung exposed to the paramedic who met them outside of the jail.
The cops did not tell the paramedic that Steve West was a paraplegic or that the prisoner had complained of a broken leg.
Never getting closer to West than ten feet in the parking lot, the paramedic did not treat or examine the prisoner, who by then was in shock and screaming for a doctor instead of a volunteer firefighter.
The paramedic explained that he did not render any first aid because Steve West tried to urinate on him.
In fact, Steve West, as established by medical history and the testimony of his doctor, is incontinent and unable to control his bladder. In fact, Steve West was urinating upon himself.
With medical treatment out of the way, officers Roper and Brown tossed their prisoner onto the holding-cell floor.
Then they did something cute.
Instead of booking Steve West under his name, the name on the identification in the wallet the police now held in their evidence locker, they booked him as "John Doe." John Does can be held without bail.
Roper and Brown wanted the paraplegic to spend a few days in jail thinking about the relevance of search warrants.
Treated and broken like an animal, Steve West responded in kind. He sobbed and screamed and spit at cops who walked by looking at his nakedness.
The police testified that once West made his wish to see a doctor known, they promptly dressed him and transported him to the nearest hospital. In fact, the cops were so sympathetic that they violated department policy and sent West for medical attention unhandcuffed. The officers were shocked to learn nearly five hours after the confrontation that their prisoner had a broken leg. Severely broken.
In the courtroom, West's lawyer McGillicuddy took this testimony and put himself inside the mind of a police officer.
"We thought we would put a man who was charged with four counts of aggravated assault, attacked two policemen, tried to kill them, tried to get the gun of Roper, allegedly threatened to kill him, acted like a maniac . . . in a police van at night, unhandcuffed, with a woman officer," mused the lawyer.
McGillicuddy concluded that this was "nonsense."
It was more than nonsense. The cops lied from beginning to end.
Officer Brown repeatedly claimed he could not imagine how West's leg was broken, but if he had to guess, he would say the leg was probably fractured before the police even arrived at the trailer.
An insurance investigator representing Bullhead City had to confess on the witness stand that Officer Roper knew from the very first moment that the leg was broken. The police officer had heard it break with a loud "pop" during the struggle inside the trailer. The insurance investigator knew this because Officer Roper had admitted it in an interview a year after the incident. As far as the compassion the police claimed they used in transporting West to the doctors, a nurse told how the paraplegic West was still naked and handcuffed when the police van rolled up to the hospital. She was so mortified that she ran to get a sheet to cover the poor man. The officer who transported West testified that of course he was handcuffed; she would never transfer any prisoner who wasn't shackled.
Regardless of what the police would like you to believe, this is how Steve West actually was taken to the hospital:
After hours of barbaric confinement, Steve West snapped. Reaching down into his jeans, he withdrew a Buck knife the police missed when they took his wallet. Holding the open blade to his neck, Steve West said he would slash his throat unless he was taken to a hospital.