GBI investigating ‘excessive force’ incident
by Jessica Loeding
Nov 27, 2013 | 2118 views | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two weeks after authorities arrested Michael West at his Emerson business, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday began conducting an investigation into allegations of excessive force by police during the apprehension.

Attorneys for West last week filed a formal complaint with the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office after surveillance video from the business showed an officer allegedly stepping on West’s head as he lies facedown on the floor.

The video footage shows agents from the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force and U.S. Marshals enter the darkened business carrying flashlights. Video shows Michael West come down the interior stairs with his hands raised and get down on the ground in the space at the base of the stairs. Officers continue clearing and securing the building at which time it appears an officer midway through the procession steps on West’s head.

Sheriff Clark Millsap said Tuesday that the GBI was contacted to conduct an investigation. He declined to comment further, saying there was no specific timeline for how long such matters take.

Task force agents and U.S. Marshals were executing warrants through Emerson Police Department for theft by conversion at the time of the alleged incident.

EPD Chief Stan Bradley said Nov. 12 was the third time the department had arrested Michael West in the past nine to 10 months.

“It’s a pretty in-depth investigation,” Bradley said last week of the case against West.

West operated a custom camper-top business on Highway 293, which Bradley said he advertised on Craigslist. According to the police chief, West would take down payments for his work but fail to deliver the product.

When EPD arrested West the first time, Bradley said the agency had received 19 complaints. After bonding out, EPD officers confronted West about operating without a business license and continued to receive complaints about bilking people of their money. He was arrested again in early October, Bradley said.

As the investigation continued, Bradley said the department received information that led to the use of U.S. Marshals and DTF agents.

“He made a couple of comments that made our investigator feel ... he was agitated with us,” Bradley said.

Based on that information and warrants outstanding in other counties, the U.S. Marshal service was contacted and, at their request, DTF officers assisted. Emerson police were not inside the business at the time of the arrest.

“We didn’t have anyone who went into the building until he was taken into custody,” Bradley said.

According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, Michael West served more than two years for the sale and distribution of marijuana and violation of the Georgia Controlled Substance Act in Douglas County.

He was arrested following the Nov. 13 incident and charged with two counts of theft by conversion, obstruction of an officer and taking an officer’s weapon.