Jail video key to both sides in former sheriff's deputy's trial




Posted on January 12, 2010 at 9:16 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 12 at 6:41 PM

SEATTLE – The trial of a fired King County sheriff's deputy, accused of beating a teenage girl who was in custody, hinges on a surveillance video. Lawyers on both sides say that video proves their case.

Former deputy Paul Schene is charged with fourth-degree assault on then 15-year-old Malika Calhoun. In November of 2008, deputies took Calhoun into custody on suspicion of auto theft. The surveillance video shows the girl kicking off a shoe. The video then shows Schene charges her, slamming her up against the wall and the ground.  He then punches her twice and pulls her up by her hair.

Calhoun suffered a bruised hip and neck strain.

The defense says the video shows an aggressive and belligerent girl provoking the deputy. The prosecution says the deputy crossed the line and used excessive force.

In 40 seconds of video they showed, prosecutors claim Schene pulled the girl's hair, punched her and knocked her to the floor. At one point, prosecutors say Schene ripped a necklace off Calhoun's neck.

"Didn't report to a sergeant that he kicked Malika. Didn't report to a sergeant that he punched Malika. Didn't report to a sergeant that he slammed Malika into a wall," said prosecuting attorney Gary Ernsdorff.

Defense attorneys contend the experienced deputy was provoked by aggressive behavior by Calhoun. The defense team played more of that jailhouse video which they say shows Calhoun kicking a shoe at the deputy.

"The whole time that she's in this cell, over 15 minutes, she's banging her shoulders against the door. When she's not banging her shoulders, she's pounding on it with her feet … screaming profanities at the officers," said defense attorney Peter Offenbecher.

Rookie King County Deputy Travis Brunner's name was also mentioned in that note. Brunner was in the jail holding cell with Schene.

"She was calling us fat pigs, (expletive), along that sort of bantering," said Brunner.

Documents show an investigating officer asked Schene what his intent was when he entered the cell after getting hit by the girl’s shoe. He replied, via email through an attorney, "to not get assaulted again" and "2- to place her back on the bench in handcuffs."

Last November, the trial was delayed over concerns about the role the tape may have played in motivating accused police killer Christoper Monfort. Nine days before the Halloween murder of Seattle officer Timothy Brenton, Monfort allegedly left notes at the scene of several torched police cars.

Prosecutors say the note mentioned the beating and said "Start policing each other or get ready to attend a lot of police funerals." 

Schene's name and address were found inside Monfort's apartment.

Schene was fired in September. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of one year behind bars if convicted.