The Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced today that Kevin Gerster, the former Maricopa County detention officer seen on security video punching two restrained inmates, has been charged with several crimes for his alleged misdoings while a member of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
In total, Gerster faces five counts of aggravated assault for the jail beat downs, and two counts of computer tampering for allegedly using a jail database to get the home address of a former inmate. He gave the address to a friend, Dennis McCarty, who then used the information to find the former inmate and assault him because he was dating McCarty's estranged wife.
As for Gerster's co-star in the jail beating video, 32-year-old Officer Alan Keesee, who is seen slamming an inmate's head into a table, County Attorney Bill Montgomery says prosecutors are still reviewing his case.
There was some confusion over whether the County Attorney's Office planned to charge Gerster at all thanks to an announcement from the Maricopa County Superior Court earlier this week saying "charges against MCSO Detention Officer Kevin Gerster were not filed by County Attorney's office. Preliminary Hearing was scratched and the case will be removed from the HP list unless new charges are filed."
As Jerry Cobb, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, told New Times earlier this week, the announcement from the Superior Court is a bit misleading. All it meant, Cobb said, was that charges hadn't been filed yet.
Any further confusion was cleared up this afternoon, when Montgomery announced the laundry list of charges against Gerster.
"This person fell grossly far below of what we expect of someone in his position," Montgomery says.
Montgomery discussed what one reporter suggested was a trend in crimes being committed by law enforcement officers and officials in the Valley (specifically a former Phoenix police officer accused of robbing five Valley banks). Montgomery downplayed the suggestion that a trend was emerging but says "it's not something we're going to accept."
That's a nice change of pace -- his predecessor, Andrew Thomas, being one of the Valley's foremost offenders when it comes to abusing the public trust Montgomery described at the press conference, and all.
Gerster, meanwhile, has been released on bond. Montgomery says he will likely remain a free man until his cases are settled unless something happens that would force the court to review the terms of release.
If convicted of all the charges, Montgomery says, Gerster faces what could be more than six years in prison. Although, three years is more realistic given sentencing guidelines.
If you haven't seen the video of Gerster roughing up inmates, you should. Check it out here.
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