BRISTOL — A verbal argument between a Bristol police officer and Bristol resident David Cobb escalated to physical violence last Sunday, after Officer Josh Otey pulled over the car Cobb was driving for making an improper right-hand turn.
According to Police Chief Kevin Gibbs, Cobb questioned the officer about why he had been stopped and failed to produce a driver’s license. The two argued, and Cobb attempted to get out of his car, Gibbs recounted; when the car door opened, it struck the police officer.
The officer then reportedly attempted to restrain Cobb, by putting him back in his vehicle, Gibbs said. He explained that the officer attempted to close the car door, but Cobb’s foot was not fully inside, and the door was slammed on Cobb’s foot multiple times.
Officer Otey handcuffed Cobb, who is 67 years old, before backup arrived.
Cobb was cited for disorderly conduct and issued tickets for two traffic violations: one for the improper right-hand turn, and one for failing to produce a driver’s license.
Cobb is considering legal action against the police department over the physical altercation.
“David was mistreated in the aftermath,” said Devin McLaughlin, a criminal defense attorney at Langrock, Sperry & Wool in Middlebury, who is representing Cobb.
McLaughlin said that, based on his understanding of events, the officer’s initial stop of Cobb’s car was improper.
Gibbs said that five bystanders had been identified as witnesses. One reportedly chanted “police brutality” while the incident was occurring.
Gibbs said that during the follow-up investigation conducted by the Bristol Police Department, the witness had backed away from that assessment.
The follow-up investigation relied on audio and video recordings from the police cruiser, as well as video obtained from a nearby gas station. Three out of the five witnesses gave statements to the police department. According to Gibbs, who reviewed the tapes; the incident took place in the span of one minute and 38 seconds.
McLaughlin said that because he and his client had not yet had access to the audio or video used in the follow-up investigation, he could not comment on the sequence of events.
Cobb may face additional criminal charges, including assault on a police officer and resisting arrest, Gibbs said. He will have an opportunity to answer the charges at an arraignment at Addison Superior Court, criminal division, on Oct. 15.
“The indication of the follow-up investigation is that the officer’s use of force was appropriate,” Gibbs said. “He felt he was being attacked and attempted to restrain the subject. Mr. Cobb did everything you’re not supposed to do at a traffic stop.”
Reporter Xian Chiang-Waren is at [email protected]