Fort Collins, CO – Sealed bodycam footage of a Colorado State University student’s 2017 arrest was released by her defense attorney on Wednesday, in an attempt to re-enflame controversy regarding the woman’s allegations of excessive force, police said.
"It would appear [to be] an orchestration to influence public opinion," interim Police Chief Terry Jones told the Coloradoan. "Theoretically, a law enforcement agency could be held in contempt [if it were to release body camera footage prior to approval by the DA's office]."
Chief Jones added that the unauthorized release of evidence was “underhanded,” “completely inappropriate,” and “unethical.”
However, instead of igniting outrage, the video has people voicing support for the police.
The footage showed the April 6, 2017 arrest of Michaella Surat, who became belligerent with Fort Collins police when she was told to leave the area while police spoke with her then-boyfriend outside of an Old Town nightclub.
During the altercation, Surat struck Officer Randy Klasmer multiple times, and was ultimately thrown to the ground and handcuffed, the video showed.
A bystander recorded a brief video of the incident, which showed only a nine-second portion of Surat’s arrest. The bodycam footage was nearly seven minutes long, and showcased the true extent of the belligerent woman’s actions.
Surat’s attorney, David Lane, claimed that he decided to release the sealed evidence in an attempt to show that Officer Klasmer – who was cleared of wrongdoing in June – had used excessive force during the arrest, KUSA reported.
"The police have been hiding behind this body cam that they refuse to disclose as vindicating their position," Lane told the Coloradoan, failing to mention that they aren't allowed to release the footage. "The body cam makes Klasmer out to be a liar. Let the public see the truth."
The incident took place outside a bustling nightclub, where a long line of people were waiting to get inside, Officer Klasmer’s bodycam footage showed.
The officer was heard speaking with an employee at the club, who told them that a man had been causing problems with one of their security guards.
Suddenly, Surat shoved her way past the employee pushing him to the side as she attempted to leave the area with her boyfriend.
“Yeah he’s not free to go,” Officer Klasmer told her. “He’s not free to go, but you can keep walking.”
Surat immediately pivoted, and told the officer she wasn’t going to leave.
“Back off,” Officer Klasmer said, as Surat moved closer towards him. “You need to go.”
“No, you don’t need to f*****g touch me,” Surat replied, while the officer attempted to keep her away from her boyfriend.
The woman continued to argue with police, and was told she was under arrest.
“Can you explain to me why you’re touching me?” Surat asked, as she refused to comply with the officer’s commands.
“Ma’am, I don’t wanna throw you on the ground,” Officer Klasmer told her. “Please don’t do that.”
Surat repeatedly tried to face the officer, who appeared to be holding onto one of her wrists and repeatedly asked her to comply.
“What did I do?” she demanded.
At one point during the altercation, Surat allegedly struck Officer Klasmer multiple times, and dug her nails into his neck, the officer said in his report.
“Due to her lack of cooperation, the female had to be taken to the ground during her arrest,” Officer Klasmer wrote, according to KUSA.
The brief takedown elicited outcry from bystanders, and Surat momentarily wailed on the ground while being handcuffed.
“I’m not resisting!” she then began yelling towards the crowd. “I’m not doing anything!”
“I was trying to get my boyfriend! Are you f******g kidding me?” Surat cried, as Officer Klasmer led her towards a patrol vehicle.
She begged passersby to help her, and at one point threw herself onto the ground and began wailing.
“Can you stand up, please?” Officer Klasmer asked her calmly.
“Can you let go of me?” Surat yelled back. “Let me go! Let me go!”
“I can feel you shaking, you little p***y,” she told the officer. “F**k you!”
Officer Klasmer then handed Surat off to a female officer.
“Ma’am do you need paramedics at all?” he asked Surat.
“F**k you!” she retorted.
Surat then turned to the female officer who was placing her into the patrol vehicle.
“I need paramedics, but not from him, cuz f**k him!” she said, before unleashing with a long stream of profanities.
As the officers waited for medical personnel to respond, a male witness approached the officer, and told him he had observed what had occurred.
“I saw that you were in the right,” he said, as he offered his contact information and agreed to give a statement.
“I saw exactly what happened there,” the man said. “She hit you three times before you took her down.”
“I tried really hard not to,” the Officer Klasmer said.
“I know, man, but [there’s] a lot of people in the line there, and I know you probably won’t have a lot of witnesses because she’s got a lot of sorority friends there, so.”
He said he saw Officer Klasmer remove Surat from the line, and that she appeared to be “really drunk.”
“You were trying to be very reasonable with her, to calm her down about two or three times,” the man recounted. “She hit you...she was verbally abusive with you.”
He noted that after the third time that Surat “physically assaulted” the officer, he was forced to take her to the ground “because she was going to hit you a fourth time.”
The man added that he was “more than willing to testify to that in a court of law.”
Surat was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer. One count of felony assault was dropped in September of 2017, the Coloradoan reported.
The case went before a jury in January, but ended in a mistrial.
A new trial was scheduled to begin Monday, but was continued until August after a disagreement between prosecutors and Lane regarding expert testimony and evidence.
That delay prompted Lane to release the sealed footage, he told the Coloradoan.
Lane added that he planned to request a new judge and a new prosecutor for Surat’s upcoming trial, and said he otherwise felt that she would not have a fair trial.
He said he planned to file a civil lawsuit against the Fort Collins police at the conclusion of the legal matter, as well.
First District Attorney Mitch Murray declined to comment regarding the situation, and said he would not release any information that might affect a defendant’s right to a fair trial, the Coloradoan reported.
"We take our ethical obligations very seriously. The actions of defense counsel do not change that," Murray told the Coloradoan. "The evidence and arguments in this case will be presented to a jury in a court of law, as it should be."
You can see the bodycam video below: