Police Officer Steven Westfall, dressed in plain clothes, was caught on a police dash-cam video (below) appearing to smash his elbow down on James Rutherford's head on July 10 in Pocatello, Idaho.
In the video, Westfall drops his elbow down on Rutherford after he calls the police "motherf------."
Westfall keeps his elbow pinned on Rutherford's head for almost a minute, and then switches to his hand for several minutes while other officers search Rutherford, who was charged with trespassing, resisting and obstructing, notes the Idaho State Journal.
Westfall was charged with of unnecessary assault by a police officer, which is a misdemeanor. He has been placed on paid leave.
Police had escorted Rutherford from a federal building and were searching him for weapons, which they did not find.
Local News 8 reports that the statements given to Idaho State Police investigators by officers at the scene contradict each other.
Westfall claimed that he believed that Rutherford had headbutted a cop, but insisted that “he was not angry or upset … he just felt the need to control the suspect.”
The video appears to show that Westfall and other police had control of Rutherford, who was handcuffed. It wasn't until Rutherford started name-calling did Westfall seem to slam his elbow down.
Another police officer told Idaho State Police investigators that Westfall was upset, “didn't want to hurt him (Rutherford), but he (Westfall) did make a mistake.”
Rutherford claimed that Westfall was “grinding the side of his head” against the police car hood while lecturing him not to resist.
Rutherford said that another cop called him a “fat (expletive),” and that Westfall smirked at him later.
The incident reportedly began when Rutherford went into an IRS office, refused to be searched by a security guard and the police were called.
Rutherford reportedly admitted to investigators that he wouldn't leave the IRS office after the police arrived because he had a right to be in a public building.
Rutherford claims he tried to film the confrontation with police on his cellphone, but the cops grabbed him by the wrists and took him outside.
WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE