Eureka Police Sergeant Adam Laird pled not guilty to committing assault under the color of authority and filing a false report. Laird, currently on administrative leave, was arrested by the Humboldt County DA’s Office following their investigation into the matter at the request of the Eureka Police Department.
According to news reports, Laird was involved in a foot chase with an individual who at the end of the chase was laying face down on the ground, compliant to other officer’s commands. Laird allegedly ran up and kicked the juvenile twice in the back near the kidneys. Another Eureka PD sergeant, Rodrigo Reyna-Sanchez, caught the abuse on his squadcar’s video system.
Laird did not take the suspect to the hospital to be checked for injuries, nor did he put anything in his police report about the kicks, although the Eureka PD policy required him to do so.
This isn’t the first time that Laird has been involved in excessive force. In 2007, a mentally ill homeless man, Martin Cotton, was beaten to death in police custody. A jury found the City of Eureka liable for $4.5 million in damages, and found Laird liable for $30,000 in damages (later settled during appeal for $4.5 million in damages). Cotton ex rel. McClure v. City of Eureka, No. C 08–4386 SBA, 2012 WL 6052519 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 5, 2012). No criminal charges were ever filed and the police department took no disciplinary action. Instead, Interim Police Chief Murl Harpham said the officers were “wronged,” and “They’re just good people, and they wouldn’t do what’s been claimed here….”
You know Chief, if you had taken the appropriate action when Cotton was beaten to death in one of your jail cells, Laird wouldn’t have been able to physically abuse another suspect.