Lawsuit: Probation officer broke Great Falls woman's arm, evidence vanishes

Lawsuit: Probation officer broke Great Falls woman's arm, evidence vanishes

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A lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Montana alleges a Great Falls probation officer broke a woman's elbow last month during her arrest, then lost the surveillance footage that captured the incident outside the probation and parole office. 

The lawsuit also alleges prosecutors were initially going to bring charges against the woman, Carrie Gregory, based on law enforcement's claims she injured the probation officer, although the case was dropped when the video footage vanished. 

The lawsuit names as defendants the State of Montana; City of Great Falls; Probation and Parole Deputy Chief Wayne Bye; Officer Tomeka Williams, the probation officer who allegedly fractured Gregory's elbow; and Scott Fisher, the Great Falls police officer who assisted with Gregory's arrest.

Bye did not return a voicemail left Tuesday morning seeking comment on the lawsuit's allegations, nor did a public information officer with the Great Falls Police Department. Gregory's attorney, Daniel Flaherty, also declined to comment for this story. 

It's unclear whether the Great Falls Probation and Parole Office has conducted an internal investigation into the incident that left Gregory's elbow broken, or asked an outside agency to investigate the use of force, as is common for local law enforcement agencies around the state. The Montana Department of Corrections, which administers probation and parole through 23 field offices, declined to comment on matters related to ongoing litigation.

The filing states Gregory was standing by in the probation and parole office parking lot as her son, Daniel Gregory, was arrested on parole violations. Carrie Gregory, a background investigator employed by a security firm in Great Falls, was "not interfering with law enforcement" when probation officer Williams arrived on scene. Williams then "performed some sort of aggressive maneuver on (Gregory's) arm and forced her head onto the hood of a vehicle," the lawsuit states. 

The maneuver fractured Gregory's left elbow and sprained her right wrist, the filing alleges. 

After the Great Falls police officer handcuffed Gregory and put her in a police cruiser, she was charged with obstructing a police officer, according to the lawsuit. Later, the Cascade County Attorney's Office informed Gregory it was pursuing felony charges on allegations that Gregory had actually injured the officer.

The surveillance cameras that captured the incident all belong to the Great Falls Division of Parole and Probation, and Gregory's criminal defense attorney sent several requests to preserve the video, the lawsuit states. In late May, Deputy Chief Bye had made a second-hand copy of one of the videos, although attorneys for Gregory described the quality as "subpar."

On June 10, Cascade County prosecutors told Gregory's defense attorneys they were dropping the charges, saying the Great Falls probation and parole office "was unable to secure a copy of the video," according to the lawsuit. The next day, Bye told Gregory's attorneys the video was "long gone."

The lawsuit alleges the initial police reports stated Gregory had suffered no injuries during the encounter, while her medical records list a fractured elbow, sprained left wrist, bruising to her ribs and an injury to her knee.

Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council Executive Director Perry Johnson told the Missoulian on Tuesday the agency had not received any reports on Williams or Bye about the encounter last month. The POST Council oversees law enforcement training and certifications, and often relies on local agencies to report allegations of officer misconduct within their own office. Excessive use-of-force cases have resulted in additional training to certifications being surrendered, according to the POST Council's integrity report posted online. 

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