Bristol officer, driver tussle at traffic stop

<p> BRISTOL &mdash; A verbal argument between a Bristol police officer and Bristol resident David Cobb escalated to physical violence last Sunday, after Officer Josh Otey pulled over the car Cobb was driving for making an improper right-hand turn.</p><p> According to Police Chief Kevin Gibbs, Cobb questioned the officer about why he had been stopped and failed to produce a driver&rsquo;s license. The two argued, and Cobb attempted to get out of his car, Gibbs recounted; when the car door opened, it struck the police officer.</p><p> The officer then reportedly attempted to restrain Cobb, by putting him back in his vehicle, Gibbs said. He explained that the officer attempted to close the car door, but Cobb&rsquo;s foot was not fully inside, and the door was slammed on Cobb&rsquo;s foot multiple times.</p><p> Officer Otey handcuffed Cobb, who is 67 years old, before backup arrived.</p><p> Cobb was cited for disorderly conduct and issued tickets for two traffic violations: one for the improper right-hand turn, and one for failing to produce a driver&rsquo;s license.</p><p> Cobb is considering legal action against the police department over the physical altercation.</p><p> &ldquo;David was mistreated in the aftermath,&rdquo; said Devin McLaughlin, a criminal defense attorney at Langrock, Sperry &amp; Wool in Middlebury, who is representing Cobb.</p><p> McLaughlin said that, based on his understanding of events, the officer&rsquo;s initial stop of Cobb&rsquo;s car was improper.</p><p> Gibbs said that five bystanders had been identified as witnesses. One reportedly chanted &ldquo;police brutality&rdquo; while the incident was occurring.</p><p> Gibbs said that during the follow-up investigation conducted by the Bristol Police Department, the witness had backed away from that assessment.</p><p> The follow-up investigation relied on audio and video recordings from the police cruiser, as well as video obtained from a nearby gas station. Three out of the five witnesses gave statements to the police department. According to Gibbs, who reviewed the tapes; the incident took place in the span of one minute and 38 seconds.</p><p> McLaughlin said that because he and his client had not yet had access to the audio or video used in the follow-up investigation, he could not comment on the sequence of events.</p><p> Cobb may face additional criminal charges, including assault on a police officer and resisting arrest, Gibbs said. He will have an opportunity to answer the charges at an arraignment at Addison Superior Court, criminal division, on Oct. 15.</p><p> &ldquo;The indication of the follow-up investigation is that the officer&rsquo;s use of force was appropriate,&rdquo; Gibbs said. &ldquo;He felt he was being attacked and attempted to restrain the subject. Mr. Cobb did everything you&rsquo;re not supposed to do at a traffic stop.&rdquo;</p><p> <em>Reporter Xian Chiang-Waren is at [email protected]</em></p>

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Addison County Independent

58 Maple Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100