Citizen Times releases body cam after claim of excessive force to a man who recorded officers asleep
A Rutherford County man claims he was unjustly arrested and Woodfin police officers used excessive force while doing so.
According to Geoffrey Auer Sr., he was staying at his girlfriend’s house on Oct. 3, 2021, when he noticed lights outside. He said he went to investigate with a beer in one hand and his cell phone in the other.
“It’s 2:30 in the morning and you see this bright light shining in your window, that’s odd to me,” Auer said.
He started recording when he saw a Woodfin police car parked on the street. Auer said a sleeping officer was inside. The flash on his cell phone woke the officer up.
“I never got close to him, never threatened him in any way,” Auer said. “He jumped out of his car, and I can be a smart aleck, but I don’t think that’s against the law, and I asked if he had a nice nap.”
Documents show the officer, Seikoyen Sasaki, was there for an unrelated incident earlier that night. Sasaki called Sgt. Andrew Arthur for backup after his encounter with Auer. Still recording when the officer arrived, Auer said Arthur was aggressive.
“He smacked me. I thought he punched me, but maybe it was a smack. It was quick, and [he] knocked my phone away,” Auer said. “I went over there and picked it up, started filming again.”
That’s when officers knocked him to the ground and arrested him, Auer said, injuring his shoulder in the process. The arrest was unjust, according to Auer, and excessively forceful.
“He was charged with resist, delay and obstruct for shining a light in their eyes and then pulling away from them they were trying to arrest him,” Auer’s attorney Joe Bowman said. “Whenever you see a resist, delay and obstruct charge standing alone and there’s no other charge, it’s suspicious.”
Bowman said it is a First Amendment violation to stop residents from recording police.
“The sergeant kept his cell phone, and my client watched him delete all of the videos,” Bowman said. “You could say that Geoffrey [Auer] shouldn’t have argued with the police and shouldn’t have criticized them for falling asleep on the job, but he has every right to. The police have to withstand criticism.”
The incident occurred six weeks after another claim of excessive force by Woodfin Police Department officers. Video from August 2021 showed officers tasing and arresting a man outside a business on Riverside Drive after he refused to get out of his parked car.
“If it happens once, maybe it’s a one-off. I happens twice, maybe it’s a pattern, “Bowman said. “You have to have thick to be a police officer. If you are going to go around and try to use your authority as a police officer to try and win every personal confrontation that offends you while you’re working, you’re in the wrong line of business.”
According to Bowman, the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office dropped all of Auer’s charges in May.
Auer has since undergone surgery on his injured shoulder, and Bowman said they are considering different legal avenues. For now, Auer just wants his message to be heard:
“Somebody has to stand up. We see this across our country all the time. This can’t happen. They’re there to enforce the law, not be judge, jury or executioner,” Auer said. “Just because somebody has a badge and a gun and a vest, doesn’t make them almighty.”