(July 8, 2013) BRANSON, Mo. -- City police say a homeless man who was arrested two weeks ago was using the name of a distant relative. The arrest sparked a debate about whether Branson police used an inappropriate amount of force in arresting the man.
After the man was arrested on June 25, Taney County prosecutors charged Justin Squyres, 33, with disturbing the peace, trespassing, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. Now they hope the man will be charged under his real name, Kevin Lee, with forgery and identity theft. Police say his fingerprints reveal his real identity.
After reading an online report about Lee’s arrest and a business owner’s belief that police officers beat the man as they arrested him and forced him into a patrol car, a man named Justin Squyres from Texas called KY3 News late on July 3. He said Kevin Lee is a distant cousin who is using his name. Squyres was angry because he said Lee’s actions are reflecting negatively on Squyres.
KY3 News forwarded the information in that call to the Branson police chief, who said Monday that the arrested man indeed was using a false name.
(July 1, 2013) BRANSON, Mo. -- Some people who saw the arrest of a homeless man think he was brutalized by police. They think Justin “Tex” Squyres was unfairly arrested and beaten. Police officers say they were just subduing a man who resisted arrest and threatening them. If the arrest was caught on tape, the police chief says he has seen no such video.
"I just want the facts to come out,” said Police Chief Kent Crutcher.
No officer is in trouble, and Crutcher says he has no reason to believe anyone will be.
"He was Tased once and it was very effective and that's when he was handcuffed,” the chief said. "From all accounts of what we have, the three officers that were present, it was necessary and appropriate for the level of resistence that was provided."
Squyres, 33, was arrested June 25 for trespassing in front of the Country Mart grocery on Missouri 248.
Crutcher says it was someone with Country Mart who called them and complained that Squyres was violating an order not to trespass on the store’s property. Officers arrested him in front of the McDonald's restaurant that is in Country Mart’s parking lot.
The probable cause statement against Squyres says an officer walked up to Squyres, told him he was under arrest, and Squyres started yelling that he was violating his rights. The statement goes on to say that Squyres hugged his arms to his body and refused to comply with the officer’s request to submit to being handcuffed.
On Squyres’ Facebook site, he posted this message: "I can sit here all I want . . . he pulled his Taser and with his bare fist, punched me in the back of the head four times."
“There was no good reason he needed to be arrested. He could have been given a ticket. He was on public land at the time he was arrested and the brutality that he faced at the hands of the police has been subject of outrage from people all over the country,” said attorney Michael Horn, who’s representing Squyres.
Horn wouldn’t say if he has video evidence that Squyres was brutalized.
“I'd like to reserve answering that statement because we've got a few different sources that we are dealing with regarding video,” said Horn.
“Tex was taken to the hospital before he was even taken to the jail because the officers on the scene knew he was beaten up badly enough that he needed medical attention,” the attorney said.
“There’s video provided the day after from a person who was present which shows the officers’ conduct, once he was placed under arrest and escorted to the squad car, we do have that. That provides no evidence of any abuse or excessive force so, if there are other clips, I would certainly want to see those,” said Crutcher.
The police report also says Squyres untied his dogs in an attempt to keep the officer away. The cop says he tried to knock Squyres off balance to cuff him, but he refused to comply, and elbowed the officer.
That's when Squyres was hit four times, then warned to comply again. He did not, and was hit with an electric stun gun, according to the probable cause statement.
Horn says his client is on the autism spectrum and has trouble understanding and being understood.