Lies and Videotape

In an apparent repeat of its behavior in the Norberg case, the sheriff's office withheld key evidence from litigant

Watching the tape and narrating while sitting in an electric wheelchair in his living room, Post becomes emotional and asks his teenage daughter to leave the room.

"He [the guard pulling down his straps] starts to lecture me at this point. I was asking to call my house because of my kid. This is where he says he feels sorry for anyone who has me as a father." Post pauses, fighting tears. "It's hard for me to go through all this crap again."

In the video, after the straps have been tightened down, all Post can move is his head. Still, the detention officer stands over him. "He's just cursing at me, calling me an asshole. He was just being a jerk," Post says.

None of the detention officer's words can be heard on the tape, which carries no sound. The sheriff's office defense, meanwhile, rests almost entirely on what it says was Post's verbal behavior--that he used abusive language. However, none of what Post said can be heard on the tape, either. The images on the tapes, however, seem to lend credence to Post's version of events.

But the sheriff's office initially only released a video that documented Post banging on his door and flooding his cell. "They put out what they thought would help their case. But they held on to this tape, and it shows that I was telling the truth. They all lied on their reports. They lied about everything," Post says.

Post has become bitter in the time since New Times first wrote his story two years ago. He says he's become a virtual prisoner in his house, and only leaves it to visit doctors and his lawyer.

The restraint chair's straps, cinched down tight into his shoulders, caused permanent damage to his brachial plexus nerve, which runs from his neck into his right arm. Torn from his spinal cord, the nerve is useless. He can now only move his index finger and thumb on his right hand. His right tricep muscles and forearm muscles have atrophied, and he has limited motion in the arm. "Essentially, I'm a one-armed guy in a wheelchair," he says.

No longer able to drive, Post says he can't afford a specially equipped van that would allow his parents to drive him places. At about $40,000, the van was too expensive for his insurance plan to cover.

In court documents filed last summer, the sheriff's office claimed that Post's injuries happened prior to the March 17 incident, based on Joan Post's estimate to a doctor that, 10 months after the incarceration, her son had had difficulty with his arm "for about a year."

"Such an argument is indeed grasping at straws when the records of Dr. Timothy Harrington of the Barrow Neurological Institute, Dr. Mazan Khayata of the Arizona Heart Institute, and the sworn affidavit of Dr. [Vito] Del Deo pinpoint the March 17 incidents as the cause of the cervical injuries," writes Post's attorney, Joel Robbins, in a reply.

"No medical records are produced to substantiate the claim that Richard's cervical impairment was pre-existing in March 17, 1996, because none exists. There is, on the other hand, evidence that Richard had an extremely mobile and strong upper body prior to March 17, 1996. He drove, held down a part-time job, attended Phoenix College [actually Glendale College], romped with his dog and his daughter and friends, lived an independent and productive life. That all ended for Richard Post on March 17, 1996."

Post says he's determined that his case gets to trial. He says he wants the tape to be shown, and Arpaio's tactics unmasked. "He's either incompetent or a liar," Post says of Arpaio. "His guards handled the tape. His internal investigator edited the first tape. Someone doctored the second tape. Finally we have an unmasked version.

"I want people to see this tape. I want people to know what they did."

Contact Tony Ortega at his online address: tortega@newtimes.com

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