Strong Feelings for Controversial Taped Arrest

February 19, 2009 8:20:52 PM PST
A graphic police beating caught on tape is sending shockwaves all across the city according to an exclusive Action News poll. Earlier this month, Fresno Police Officers Scott Payn and Jeffery Gross were video taped trying to detain 52-year-old Glen Beaty. The video shows the officers repeatedly punching the man.In an Exclusive Action News Poll Conducted by SurveyUSA, we asked nearly 500 Fresno residents if they thought the officers in the video used excessive force. An overwhelming majority--73 percent said yes the officers did.

The shocking video has been seen by a vast majority of Fresno residents and our latest poll shows those who have seen it have very strong feelings. Pollers asked if the officers involved should be charged with a crime. 65-percent said yes. ABC 30's Legal Analyst Tony Capozzi said public opinion is moving too fast, "I think we are rushing to judgment. We are only basing it on what we saw on the video tape. The victim needs to be interviewed. The two police officers need to be interviewed."

In a police report, the officers say Glen Beaty tried to stab one of them with a pen, and ripped the badge off of one of the officers. Chief Jerry Dyer said an internal affairs investigation is underway, but residents also took issue with Dyer. 50-percent of Fresno residents surveyed believe Dyer bears some responsibility if the officers are found to have used excessive force. 26-percent believe he bears a lot of responsibility.

The chief is out of town and released a brief statement: "Regardless of what the poll results show, it is my belief that while I cannot control an individual's behavior, as the police chief I have the ultimate responsibility for the actions of every employee in my department."

Capozzi said, "I don't think his job is in danger unless he becomes a political liability to the politicians." So far, the mayor still supports the chief. Council President Cynthia Sterling also said she stands behind dyer, "I am giving Chief Dyer as well as his administration a chance to vet through the process, so that we can continue to be supportive." Capozzi said regardless of the poll numbers, Chief Dyer's next actions will be watched all across the city.

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