Taser Happy SCSO Deputy Travis Koester
Who here remembers this video of Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Travis Koester arresting Clifton Flagg For DUI and Tamara Skube for Resisting Arrest.
Mr. Flagg ended up pleading to Reckless Driving with supervision from the incident portrayed in the above video.
Tamara Skube was never formally charged for her resisting arrest charge portrayed in the video.
Tamara Skube did file a Federal Lawsuit against the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office in relation to Deupty Koester Tasering her unlawfully and other things in relation to her arrest.
In August a federal court has found that Sangamon County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis Koester had no probable cause to arrest a Springfield woman in 2011 and that he used unreasonable force when he shot her twice with a Taser.
U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough granted summary judgment to Tamara Skube on her claims of false arrest and excessive force against Deputy Travis Koester stemming from the above July 21, 2011, traffic stop of an SUV in which Skube was a passenger.
The case will now move forward to a jury trial on Skube’s assault and battery claim against Koester and to determine damages for false arrest and use of excessive force.
Koester claimed he had probable cause to arrest Skube for resisting or obstructing a police officer.
“Illinois courts have long held that the resisting/obstructing statute does not ‘proscribe mere argument with a policeman about the validity of an arrest or other police action,’ ” but requires some physical resistance or prolonged refusals to comply with police orders. Skube argued about her arrest for 12 seconds before Koester fired the Taser, U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough says.
“Skube was permitted to approach Deputy Koester and object to what he was doing and she did not have to immediately comply with Deputy Koester’s orders to back up.” “In sum, Skube’s 12-second period of nonviolent objection was, as a matter of law, insufficient to give rise to probable cause for an arrest….,” Myerscough wrote.
Another federal judge found in February that Koester did have probable cause to arrest a man on DUI charges in May 2012 and granted summary judgment to Koester in a suit alleging false arrest.
In March, a U.S. District Court jury found in Koester’s favor in a suit alleging he used excessive force during an incident at Bootlegger’s tavern in 2009. That verdict is being appealed.
It wasn’t the first time that Koester’s credibility has been questioned.
In 2010, Koester lied on the witness stand, testifying in a court hearing that his investigation into a suspected drug dealer began with a tip from Crimestoppers (“Illinois Times Article Pants on fire,” Aug. 15, 2013). In fact, Koester had been tipped off by someone he had pulled over in a traffic stop, and the case against the suspected dealer was dismissed. Koester, who is the son of sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Berkler, received a reprimand after admitting the fib.
In 2012, Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John Madonia, then an associate judge, called Koester’s testimony in a DUI case “convolutedly crappy.” Among other things, a video showed that the accused driver’s speech wasn’t slurred, as Koester had claimed in his report (“Illinois Times Shocking development,” Aug. 2, 2012). Koester had also testified that the driver smelled of marijuana and alcohol, but another officer testified that there were no such odors.
“I’d have a little trouble finding anyone guilty of anything coming out of this stuff,” Madonia said from the bench in blasting Koester’s testimony.
In another DUI case that same year, Sangamon County Associate Judge Christopher Perrin canceled a license suspension for an accused driver after reviewing a video that showed the man performing a sobriety test. Koester testified that the driver had failed the tests, but Perrin concluded otherwise. The videotape also showed that the deputy had not observed the driver for 20 minutes prior to administering a breath test, as required to ensure accurate results.
“I’ve seen those tests on tape hundreds of times,” Perrin said. “Moreover, what he’s testifying to and what he’s writing in his report are two different things and it leads me to believe that the guy is making it up as he goes along.”
Charges against both drivers were dropped, and both sued the county and Koester. The lawsuits were dismissed. A third lawsuit filed by a man who alleges that Koester and another deputy wrongly tased him in 2009 is being appealed. A fourth excessive-force lawsuit against Koester was dismissed in 2011 when the plaintiff, who was acting as his own attorney, failed to show up for a hearing. The county has spent nearly over $200,000 on lawyers and legal fees to defend lawsuits against Koester.
In the Skube case, plaintiff’s attorneys say that Koester tased people at least 34 times between 2005, when he became a deputy, and 2012, when Skube sued. At least a dozen times, Koester used a Taser because someone didn’t obey his commands, according to Skube’s lawyers.
In her Feb. 27 opinion, Myerscough wrote that she might invoke a rarely used federal court rule to decide that Koester used excessive force and falsely arrested Skube. Normally, it would be up to a jury, not a judge, to decide those questions. If Myerscough follows through, a jury would be tasked with deciding how much Skube should be paid. Both the county and Koester could end up paying, given that a jury would be allowed to award punitive damages, which are intended to punish defendants and deter future misconduct. And Koester, not taxpayers, would have to pay punitive damages.
(Credit to the Illinois Times & State Journal Register).
Springfield Exposed above is publishing Deputy Travis Koester’s entire Internal Affairs File. As you will see a majority of Mr. Koester’s complaints have been unfounded. Thought later in some cases Jurys have found otherwise.
This Deupty is a major headache and cost burden to taxpayers. Why is this man still allowed to carry a badge and “protect” our citizens. I wouldn’t be surprised if Springfield ever has a “Michael Brown” kind of situation, that it will come from this Deupty and his trigger happy finger.