The Maricopa County detention officer seen beating two inmates in the psych ward at one of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails has not been charged with a crime -- yet, the Maricopa County Superior Court announced this morning.
"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," court spokeswoman Karen Arra says in an email to New Times.
Gerster was seen on tape stepping on the neck of a fully restrained inmate before punching him four times in the head. In another incident, he's seen punching another inmate as the inmate was fully restrained and laying naked in a jail cell.
In yet another incident, Gerster is believed to have used the jail database to get the address of a former inmate for a friend of his. The former inmate was dating Gerster's friend's estranged wife.
That friend of the deputy's, Dennis McCarty, was arrested shortly after he was given the address for allegedly assaulting his estranged wife -- and the ex-inmate -- with a box-cutter at the ex-inmate's Tempe home, the address to which he got from Gerster.
Jerry Cobb, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office tells New Times the announcement from the Superior Court is a bit misleading.
"They make it sound like the case is being dropped," Cobb says. "That's an inaccurate statement."
Cobb says the case is being reviewed by prosecutors who will determine what -- if any -- charges will be filed against Gerster.
It was only recommended by the MCSO that Gerster, who is currently free on bond and recently resigned his post with the Sheriff's Office, be charged with aggravated assault. Cobb says the prosecutor will be reviewing the case against Gerster and will file any charges against him based on that review.
"This kind of thing happens all the time," he says. "Just because our office hasn't charged him with anything yet doesn't mean we won't charge him with anything."
The case against Gerster seems fairly cut and dry -- authorities have video recordings of the incidents. Cobb says the holdup in charging Gerster is more clerical than anything else, noting that "there's a process we need to go through."
Gersten says the CA's Office has up to seven years to charge Gerster with a crime, but assures us it will not take nearly that long -- assuming charges are filed.
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