Friday, December 19, 2008

Sheriff reviews Bellevue brawl

Two injured deputies still unable to work

Express Staff Writer

The Blaine County Sheriff's Office is conducting an internal review into a domestic incident last week in Bellevue in which two deputies were injured.

"The whole incident is under review to see what we can learn from that," Sheriff Walt Femling said. "That's not to say at all that they did anything wrong."

Deputies Tony Munoz and Rene Rodriguez were injured in an early morning scuffle on Dec. 8. Evan Glenn Bear, a 47-year-old Blaine County man, is accused of battering the deputies at his estranged wife's home on Tendoy Street in north Bellevue. Bear has been charged with two felony counts of battery on a police officer.

Munoz, who works out of the sheriff's office in Hailey, suffered a severely strained right thumb and is wearing a cast. Rodriguez, who is assigned to the Bellevue Marshal's Office, suffered a fractured vertebra.

Femling said both deputies are still unable to work.

According to a probable-cause affidavit filed by Bellevue Marshal Ron Taylor, Munoz and Rodriguez responded to a domestic disturbance call around 3 a.m. on Dec. 8. Bear had allegedly locked himself in a bathroom in the home and his estranged wife authorized the deputies to kick in the door and remove him.

Taylor's report states that Munoz and Rodriguez identified themselves to Bear as police officers but makes no mention of whether they tried to talk him out of the bathroom before kicking down the door and forcibly trying to remove him.


Taylor declined to discuss the incident further on Thursday and referred questions to Femling.

Femling said his officers carry "OC" pepper spray but neither deputy used the material on Bear. He described the internal review of the incident as routine.

"When someone's injured, we review it—not that someone did anything wrong—but to see if there's something we can do better," Femling said. "We had a tough situation to deal with. When someone's barricaded in a house and the wife says get him out, there's a lot of things to consider, but sometimes that's what you have to do. Sometimes you've got to remove someone."

Munoz and Rodriguez brought to four the number of sheriff's officers injured in alleged brawls with suspects during the past few months. Jailer Laura Bowling suffered minor head injuries and Lt. Curtis Miller was bitten during a jail scuffle on Nov. 1. The alleged assailant, Lori Brutsche-Ely, a 41-year-old Twin Falls woman, has been charged with battering Bowling and Miller and Hailey police officer Shelly Pharis.

Femling said Bowling missed "a day or two" of work and Miller needed a tetanus shot but was otherwise unscathed.

"Sometimes when you're a cop you've got to mix it up a little," Femling said. "That goes with the job."

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