Judge rules in favor of officer in Rodeman case | SteamboatToday.com

Judge rules in favor of officer in Rodeman case

Facts of Rodeman case still to be determined at April trial

Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman
Matt Stensland

— A U.S. District Court judge ruled Wednesday that former Oak Creek Police Department officer Erik Foster didn’t use excessive force when he used a Taser to subdue the town’s former mayor, Kathy “Cargo” Rode­­man, during a 2008 arrest.

The ruling came from a request for summary judgment from Foster and the town of Oak Creek, which is involved in an ongoing civil lawsuit with Rodeman stemming from her arrest.

U.S. District Judge Phillip A. Brimmer ruled that Foster thought his safety was at risk, that excessive force was necessary to ensure his safety and that Rodeman resisted arrest.

“Sgt. Foster gave plaintiff several warnings and plaintiff had ample opportunity to comply with his commands but still refused to cooperate,” Brimmer wrote. “Sgt. Foster’s decision to deploy his Taser to force plaintiff to comply was, therefore, objectively reasonable.”

Bri­­­mmer’s ruling, however, didn’t determine whether Foster had probable cause to enter Rodeman’s home because the facts are in dispute.

Foster arrested Rodeman on July 19, 2008. Foster has said he tried to pull Rodeman over in her car because she failed to use her turn signal and said she then fled to her home. Foster has said he pursued Rodeman into her home and used a Taser to subdue and arrest her because she wasn’t cooperating.

Rodeman has said that she didn’t commit any traffic infractions and that Foster unlawfully forced his way into her home and used excessive force when he stunned her with a Taser.

Colorado Springs lawyer Gordon L. Vaughan, who is representing Oak Creek, said in an e-mail that whether Foster had probable cause to enter Rodeman’s home would be determined when the case goes to trial in April.

“I am happy that the court has determined, as a matter of fact and law, that Ms. Rodeman failed to comply with numerous orders of Officer Foster and that Officer Foster’s decision to tase her was objectively reasonable,” Vaughan wrote. “We have consistently believed and maintained that Officer Foster’s conduct was justified based on the conduct of Ms. Rodeman.”

Reached by phone Thursday afternoon, Rodeman said she had not yet read the lawsuit and couldn’t comment. Her lawyer, Kris Hammond, of Steamboat, didn’t respond to phone messages left on his office and cell phones Thursday afternoon.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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