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Maul Cop

A Quad Cities police officer brutally beats department-store shoplifter without apparent provocation, and it's caught on video. But officer escapes criminal charges – and keeps his job.

By Andrew Schroedter/BGA

August 6, 2013 9:45 AM

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Department store security camera footage

The Better Government Association has obtained chilling video of a male police officer beating a female shoplifting suspect – apparently without provocation – in a mall along the Illinois-Iowa border earlier this year.

The footage – originating from a department store security camera and forwarded to the BGA by a source – shows the much larger officer pummeling the 34-year-old woman in front of her infant daughter. After knocking the woman to the floor, the officer rains numerous blows to her face and head, according to the video, which was authenticated by authorities.

"I was crying and begging him to get off me," Brandie Redell, the woman who was beaten, says in a recent interview with the BGA. Her right eye was injured in the incident, and she says her vision is still impaired.

The incident occurred Feb. 18, 2013, in an interview room inside the Von Maur department store in Davenport, Iowa, one of five Mississippi River towns along the Illinois-Iowa border that collectively are known as the Quad Cities.


If you don't see the video above, click here and watch it on NBC5.

Police were called after Von Maur employees observed Redell attempting to steal $388 worth of women's clothing, including three tops, one skirt and one dress, according to interviews and public records.

Davenport Police Officer Scott Crow, seen on the video punching Redell, was disciplined for using excessive force, says Police Chief Frank Donchez. He declined to specify the punishment or say if this was Crow's first offense.frank+donchez

Crow was not criminally charged and remains in his $65,580-a-year job. He did not return phone calls from the BGA.

Redell didn't appear to physically provoke or attack Crow during the police interview gone awry. The video shows Redell seated in a chair while being questioned by police, apparently crying and talking on a cell phone when Crow moves toward her.

In Crow's version, he rushed Redell because her "hands were clenched" and she appeared "willing to fight," according to a copy of the case report obtained by the BGA under Iowa's open records law.

Crow also states that once on the ground Redell bit his finger and would not let up, the reason he started punching her head, according to the report. (Redell admitted to the BGA that she indeed did bite Crow after he tackled her. But the video also shows Crow striking Redell with both fists, so his finger wasn't always between clenched teeth.)

Another officer also is seen in the video scuffling with Redell but doesn't appear to strike her with his fists. That second officer was not disciplined.

In Chicago, allegations of police misconduct have been front and center for at least a decade, mainly the result of revelations that former Area 2 Police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his underlings used torture to elicit false confessions.

While those cases continue to garner heavy media attention, many other excessive force complaints are handled quietly and without fanfare. Video of Redell's beating hasn't been publicly disclosed until now, so far as the BGA could determine.

undefinedDays after the incident Redell filed a complaint with Davenport police, alleging Crow used excessive force. Donchez says the department reviewed the allegation and in a letter, dated April 3, 2013, told Redell her complaint was "sustained." The department didn't specify how Crow was disciplined, but the video apparently played a large role in the decision-making.

Scott County, Iowa, prosecutor Michael Walton reviewed a video of the beating but decided not to press charges against Crow, citing a lack of evidence. "I don't think the video disputes" Crow's claim that he hit Redell because she bit him, Walton says.

Public safety expert David Bradford disagrees.

"At some point his hand is free [from her mouth] and he continued to pummel her," says Bradford, executive director of Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, who was shown the video. "He went overboard."

Redell was charged with two misdemeanors: Assault causing injury to a peace officer and shoplifting. She pled guilty to shoplifting, and the assault charge was dropped, according to interviews and public records.

She is to be sentenced Aug. 23 in Scott County Court. Her criminal record includes two previous shoplifting convictions, records show.

Von Maur, headquartered in Davenport, is a family-owned department store chain with 27 locations in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and eight other states. A company spokesman had no immediate comment.brandie+redell

The BGA obtained a copy of the video from civil rights activist David Lowery. His suburban Chicago-based nonprofit, Living and Driving While Black Foundation, is advising Redell, who is white. Lowery, a former resident of the Quad Cities, didn't want to say publicly how he obtained the video.

The video shows that police misconduct affects people of all races, says Lowery, adding it can happen to anyone, in any town, not just urban centers like Chicago.

"Hopefully, by disclosing this video, other officers will think twice before they do this to people," he says.

"The Better Government Association doesn't usually shine a light on government in other states," says BGA President & CEO Andy Shaw.

"But it's important to support whistleblowers like the Chicago activist who gave us the altercation video by taking their findings seriously, and – given Chicago's sorry history – to demand that police officers who allegedly use excessive force on suspects be held accountable."

This story was written and reported by the Better Government Association's Andrew Schroedter, who can be reached at aschroedter@bettergov.org or (312) 821-9035.

If you appreciate the work of the BGA, please consider making a donation.

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Jan
I'm tired of people who break the law (with her young child no less) who end up being the "victim"! Maybe the police officer was a little rough with her; but she was biting his finger. How about allowing the cops to do their job; which is a dangerous job. Stop pampering criminals!
6:41 PM Aug 7th
Glad to see Davenport police are no different than everywhere else. Between low IQ and high aggression levels no one is safe. Police view all citazens a bad guys and they hate bad guys. As you see from this case the police are not going to hold themselves accountable.
8:35 AM Aug 8th
GH72
Where was the child while the officers had the woman pinned down? The woman appears to be calm as the officers are talking to her, but then they just seem to attack, unprovoked. Her child was not in the stroller, so where was he/she? On another note, even if the woman was being verbally abusive toward the officers, their response was completely inappropriate. If there is more to this story, I need to hear it! As it stands now, even with the admission of guilt to shoplifting by the woman, the cops are guilty of much more in this case! I hope there are repercussions for their quick fists - especially to a woman in front of her child. (Don't mistake my comments in this case for naivety - I know there are some women that have to be contained and that brute force is the only way to do so. It just doesn't look like any force was needed in this case.)
9:38 AM Aug 8th
Jack
Just another entitled piece of crap.Here's a hint for all of you would be or active thieves.If you're caught stealing, and the cops tell you to get off of your phone...get off of your phone.If you won't, they're going to make you get of the phone.And if you bite them while they're making you comply, they're going to beat you.It is very simple really.Steal>Refuse to comply with cop in his lawful duties>Bite him>Get beat.Seems imminently fair to me. Now gush your hearts blood all over me because you believe this poor, thieving, biting woman was a victim.I'm sure its the first time she ever stole anything. I'm also quite sure that its the last time she ever bites a cop who is just trying to do his job...you know, arrest a thief.
11:53 AM Aug 8th
MrApple
Committing a crime is an inherently dangerous venture. If she hadn't committed the crime I'm guessing that she would not have been beaten. See how easy that is. I have NO sympathy for her.
12:06 PM Aug 8th
Frank Furter
Hey - here's a thought - don't want problems with cops? QUIT STEALING. Pretty simple. No sympathy from me.
12:59 PM Aug 8th
Anonymous
Maybe if all shoplifters got a beat down on the spot, they'd stop doing it and costing all law abiding shoppers more money. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
3:26 PM Aug 8th
ANONYMOUS
This is another example of crime against women that isn't prosecuted
5:59 PM Aug 8th
C
Unprovoked? If she had not been breaking the law this situation would not have happened. Play stupid games...win stupid prizes. No sympathy here..
6:58 PM Aug 8th
Sandra
I was appalled at the video of the suspect (presumed innocent) who was beaten in plain view of the video camera. I am more shocked that the police chief would not fire this rogue cop. Can you imagine what he would do to a woman when there were no cameras around? The suspect Brandie Redell received a serious black eye but nothing compared to the black eye your city has received from that one cops actions. Why aren’t the good, hard working police officers rallying against “Officer” Crow, or all they all that way? Shame, Shame, Shame on you Chief Donchez and your department. Sandra “concerned citizen of the United States”
7:13 PM Aug 8th
Kriss
This is just too much! I hate it when people abuse their power! How many others has this officer beaten?​
7:25 AM Aug 9th
sb
It is as clear as day that she was no threat. She had one hand down and one on her phone when he came at her. She leans away and he starts pummeling her. Outrageous! Even more outrageous is that he was not fired or had criminal charges, both of which should happen.
7:56 AM Aug 9th
jmott25
Another cop on a power trip. Everyone agrees Brandie Redell is wrong for shoplifting. What I don’t understand is how, in anyway, Scott’s actions are justified. Nobody, ever, deserves to be held down and beat for any reason especially a petty crime like this. Brandie was sitting down, no threat and defenseless. Scott Crow was the obvious aggressor and should be fired. Surprising to see anyone take Scott Crow’s side.
2:30 PM Aug 22nd

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